We’re done with the 2019 Academy Awards, but somewhere in the Hollywood Hills is a movie critic crying into a handkerchief because “Green Book” won best picture. The second least-liked film in the field of eight according to its Metacritic score took home the top prize and two others during a history-making night that saw many first and also some repeat wins. Here are a few takeaways from Sunday night festivities.
Winners: Netflix and Universal
Netflix was riding high into the Dolby Theater on Sunday with “Roma” and its 10 nominations. Alfonso Cuaron and company won three Oscars – director, foreign language film and cinematography. It’s the first time that Netflix has won in an above-the-line category, but when “Roma” won in the foreign language category, it spelled trouble for the black-and-white film. No foreign language film had ever won best picture. If “Cold War” or “Shoplifters” would have won instead, “Roma” probably would have won.
“Green Book” also won three awards – best picture, original screenplay and supporting actor. Its writing victory signaled that best picture was around the corner. Produced by Universal, “Green Book” is the movie studio’s first best picture winner since “A Beautiful Mind” in 2002. Mahershala Ali earned his second Oscar, becoming only the second black actor to earn two competitive Oscars in acting (the other is Denzel Washington).
Winners: All best picture nominees
All eight nominees won at least one award. The last time that happened was with the 2015 Oscars, when all of its eight nominees also won at least one statuette. The film that was snuck in with a surprise win was Olivia Colman’s best actress victory for “The Favourite.” Despite tying with “Roma” with the most nominations, “The Favourite” won only one.
Above-the-line victories nominations for women were not plentiful this year, but women were making several first in the craft and below-the-line categories. Three female directors collected hardware in documentary feature (“Free Solo”), documentary short (“Period. End of Sentence.”) and animated short (“Bao”). Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler are the first black winners in costume design and production design, respectively, for their work in “Black Panther.”
“Black Panther” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” earned the comic book giant its first Oscars, including original score and animated feature. “Spider-Man” is also the first animated movie co-directed by a black man to win an Oscar.
Winner: Randy Thomas
Who is Randy Thomas? She’s the person with the evening’s most difficult job. For the 10th time, Thomas was the voice of the Oscars, announcing the presenters, nominees and breakaways. And this year, she did it without a host. The ceremony was three hours and 18 minutes long, with four best original song nominees performed in their entirety. If “All the Stars” had been in the telecast, it would have gone about 3½ hours. In other words, the Oscars would have gone through its allotted time. No pointless monologues, old Hollywood montages or silly comedic segments. Does the show need a host anymore? Give Thomas a pay raise.
Push: Spike Lee
It has been an interesting dance between Lee and the Academy for the last three decades. That’s the number of years between Lee’s first nomination (original screenplay for “Do the Right Thing”) and the three he earned this year for “BlacKkKlansman.” As many seemed happy for the acclaimed director to earn his first directing nomination, he won for adapted screenplay and lost to Cuaron for directing. His victory came moments after “Green Book” won for original screenplay. The scene went from the sinking feeling of playing it safe with the reversal “Driving Miss Daisy” to jubilation with Lee wining a competitive Oscar. The glee faded once “Green Book” won best picture. Throughout awards season, Lee didn’t have an ill word for “Green Book,” but his body language was talking at volume whenever he and “Green Book” writer/director Peter Farrelly had to share a roundtable or panel. However, with “Green Book” and “BlacKkKlansman” being produced by Universal – “Green Book” by the head studio and “BlacKkKlansman” by its independent branch Focus Features – did Lee have to take a figurative backseat?
Loser: Warner Bros.
“A Star is Born” was the studio’s big attraction, and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper promoted it gracefully. It only won for best original song for “Shallow.”
Many TV viewers are crazy about Super Bowl ads, making sure they get to watch them when the action goes into a timeout or something. With the Oscars being my version of the big game, I’m very receptive of what commercials are shown. This year, so many past rules have been broken by this year’s telecast. An ad for an FX limited series starring nominee Sam Rockwell was shown. In the past, ads with nominees, including ones for TV shows and films, were barred. Fifteen years ago, ads for feminine hygiene products were also banned, despite the Oscars’ largest audience being women. This year, a documentary short about menstruation and education won an Academy Award.
How did we do?
As for our predictions, I was 16 for 24 in my predictions and three for six in the major categories for my official Hazleton picks. Rebecca Kivak was four for five and and Joe Baress was three for five for their official Scranton picks.
However, the best measure of success for me was having nearly 300 likes on one tweet saluting April Reign, the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag who attended her first Oscars ceremony Sunday. The impact she has had on the industry and the awards were reflected in this year’s winners and the films being made now.