With a mix of historic upsets, left-field surprises, heartfelt words as well as widely expected wins, the 92nd Academy Awards was a glitzy celebration of film. It was a music-propelled evening that — despite no host, comedy sketches or formal “bits” — still ran long. Here are some highlights from the night.
Cheers to Bong Joon Ho, who can happily raise a glass of soju after his much-heralded satire-thriller Parasite made history several times over at the Oscars.
Since Parasite captured the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last May (the first South Korean film ever to do so), fans of the contemporary class tale steadily became legion worldwide. On Sunday night, everyone learned that the #BongHive also extends to the Oscars academy.
Not only did they grant South Korea its first-ever Oscar-winner, they also crowned Parasite the first non-English movie ever to win the night’s highest honour.
The movie’s repeat wins (original screenplay, international feature, direction and best picture) sparked utter delight and surprise in writer-director Bong, who graciously acknowledged his cast, crew and fellow nominees every time he took the stage.
After wins for the same four actors throughout the film awards season, Joaquin Phoenix capturing best lead actor for Joker was a given. With each acceptance speech along the way, however, the notably press shy actor has increasingly spoken out on a variety of issues important to him, including equality and veganism on Oscar night.
“Whether we are talking about gender and equality or racism or queer rights or Indigenous rights or animal rights… We are talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity,” he noted in his Oscar acceptance, which included a reference to his late brother, actor River Phoenix.
“We’re at our best… when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption.
“That is the best of humanity.”
A delightful duo
While Oscar producers love to pack in the star power, inevitably mixing and matching celebrity presenters, there’s something to be said for the magic you get from a talented pair (Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig) who have already established (Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids) that they’re funny together.
Better late than never?
In a truly left-field moment for the show, a video montage celebrating pop music in movies segued into a surprise live performance of Lose Yourself by Eminem.
Audience reactions to the veteran Detroit rapper — whose track from 8 Mile won for best original song in 2003 — went from utter confusion to ecstatic head-bopping sing-a-long in record time. He landed one of the evening’s standing ovations for the performance, a secret that the producers managed to hide from everybody.
The academy has come under fire this year for the lack of women and people of colour in key categories (criticism that even provided fodder for Steve Martin and Chris Rock’s “we’re not the hosts” opening monologue), but heartfelt words from multiple winners underlined that the importance of inclusion and representation at the Oscars go way beyond famous faces and punch lines.
“We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply. Especially in cartoons, because in cartoons that’s when we first see our movies and it’s how we shape our lives and think about how we see the world,” said Karen Rupert Toliver, producer of best animated short winner Hair Love.
Joker composer Hildur Guðnadottir, one of the few female winners in the best original score category and the first in more than two decades, received a sustained standing ovation.
“To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up,” the recent Emmy and Grammy winner declared.
“We need to hear your voices.”
New Zealand Māori filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi dedicated his best adapted screenplay win for Jojo Rabbit to “all the Indigenous kids who live in the world, who want to do art and dance and write stories. We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well.”
Later, Waititi also delivered what is believed to be the first ever land acknowledgement during the Oscars telecast.
“The academy would like to acknowledge that, tonight, we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash. We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works,” he said.
Met with applause by those gathered at the show, the statement was also warmly welcomed by many Oscar viewers online.
Miigwetch to those who worked hard behind the scenes to get that land acknowledgement on the Oscars. Chi miigwetch.
WOW! Did they just do a land acknowledgement??? Way to go #Oscars2020! Now let’s open up space for films by/about/starring Indigenous people.