The Oscars ceremony is the biggest event in Hollywood, making it the most watched award ceremony in the world. As a result, it’s typically surrounded by drama, news, and the occasional controversy. From the best and worst dressed to the nominees and winners of every category, the event gives everyone lots to talk about for several weeks to come. And the 91stAcademy Awards did not disappoint on any of these fronts!
For some, the drama began in early December, when some of Kevin Hart’s old homophobic tweets were unearthed. Hart seemed pretty pumped after officially being announced as the host of the Oscars 2019. But when some of his tweets from 2009-2010 were thrown back at him all over again, the Academy gave him an ultimatum to apologise or give up the biggest hosting gig of the year. In the end, the popular comedian chose to stand his ground and step down from hosting. “This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it. I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’ve done it,” Hart insisted. “I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old, when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different space in my life.”
So what was the bold comedian up to instead of hosting the Oscars? While practically everyone in the industry was at the Dolby Theatre, Kevin Hart spent a quiet evening with his family, after which he vented a bit in an intense boxing session. A certain woke LA street artist with a sense of humour who has been installing relevant statues near the Oscars venue since 2014, decided this year that even if Kevin Hart takes a pass on the ceremony, he’d make sure that everyone who attended was reminded of him. With the installation of a life-size statue of Hart smiling while he holds a rainbow flag titled Hollow Apology, the artist made his point loud and clear!
After a great deal of vagueness about who would host, and despite the last-minute rumours of Whoopi Goldberg taking Hart’s place, the world was treated to the first host-less Academy Awards in 30 years. Fortunately, the event disproved everyone’s worst fears of the night turning into a disjointed, boring disaster. The ceremony lasted for three hours this year, as opposed to the usual four-hour-plus ceremony, but somehow ended up having a more stripped down and laid-back groove. It turned out that not having to smile and squirm a little through ill-received and self-deprecating jokes throughout the evening was actually quite a relief. And this year’s show was more intimate, inclusive, and supportive than it’s ever been before.
The evening started with an opening musical number by the surviving members of Queen along with the glam rock singer Adam Lambert, performing a medley of the band’s most famous songs. While it initially seemed like it might be disappointing, much like the rest of the 91st Academy Awards, it was surprisingly good, and possibly fore-shadowed Rami Malek’s eventual win. But that wasn’t the only great musical performance of the night. Two-time Oscar nominee Bette Midler and her powerhouse voice filled in for Emily Blunt, performing ‘The Place Where Lost Things Go’ from the movie Mary Poppins Returns. Then, another Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson, performed the rousing anthem, ‘I’ll Fight’ from the movie RBG. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings bathed the theatre in a classically American country vibe with their Oscar-nominated song, ‘When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings’ from the film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
But the musical moment of the night, however, was Lady Gaga’s performance of ‘Shallow’ from the Oscar-nominated film, A Star Is Born. The gifted singer was joined onstage by her co-star, actor Bradley Cooper. While he didn’t necessarily channel his character Jackson Maine, Cooper still impressed the crowd with a capable performance. I mean, who doesn’t love a good-looking hunk who can belt out a tune? The most heart-warming moment of the performance was when Cooper slowly walked around the piano to sit next to Gaga as together they crooned the final few notes of the song!
Several movies stood out in this year’s event. Bohemian Rhapsody garnered five nominations, out of which it bagged four wins, including Best Actor for Rami Malek’s portrayal of legendary rock star, Freddie Mercury. Meanwhile, Green Book received five nominations and three wins, including the much coveted ‘Best Picture’ award. Black Panther got three wins from its six nominations, while Roma took home three awards from its 10 nominations, including the ‘Best Director’ award. And The Favourite would not be left behind with ten nominations of its own, out of which Olivia Colman won the ‘Best Actress’ award for her portrayal of Queen Anne.
In the documentary category, one film that gained a lot of traction in this year’s Oscars was a contribution from our very own country, titled Period. End of Sentence. Produced by Guneet Monga and featuring the original Pad Man, Arunachalam Murgunantham, it won the award for ‘Best Documentary Short’, edging out Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat, and A Night At The Garden. In her acceptance speech, Monga thanked the Academy for the highest honour and for recognising the efforts of all the young girls from Oakwood School in Los Angeles to Kathikera in Uttar Pradesh. She was elated that the film has helped shatter the glass ceiling in normalising the taboo that still exists around menstruation.
When it’s the Oscars, how can we possibly not talk about the fashion? One of the most anticipated events of the year deserves some of the most stunning outfits from our beloved stars. And we have to say, they delivered, and how! Pink was apparently the colour of the night, with several celebrities sporting pink red carpet gowns, including Kacey Musgraves fluffy pink Giambattista Valli number, Sarah Paulson’s hot pink puff-sleeved Calvin Klein dress, and Gemma Chan’s fuschia loosely fit design by Valentino.
Fans of the Bardot neckline would have been totally enthralled by Constance Wu’s Belle-like yellow tulle Versace dress, and Michelle Yeoh’s regal sequined silver gown by Elie Saab. Some of the best-dressed men were Chadwick Boseman in his heavily embellished ensemble, Jason Momoa as dapper as ever in suede, and Henry Golding in a Ralph Lauren tux with classic patent lace-ups.
The two stars that really left fans with wide eyes and jaws dropped were Jennifer Lopez who oozed a whole lot of hotness in her shiny mirror-mosaic gown by Tom Ford, and Billy Porter’s gender-norm-slaying tuxedo dress designed by Christian Siriano. We have to say that for an event focussed on the film industry, complete with its own drama, the pop-singer and actor took the cake for the most dramatic outfit of the night! But at the end of the night, the look that stood out the most for us was Emma Stone’s honeycomb-design brown and gold Louis Vuitton gown. Although she may not have won the Best Supporting Actress award but she did win a lot compliments! --- Tanya and Pics: PTI/IANS