Can you believe that the awards season is over already? Yep, the most dazzling night of the year took place on Sunday night as Hollywood’s finest headed to the Dolby Theatre in LA ready for the 92nd Academy Awards to find out who was to be honoured with the industry’s most prestigious awards. Couldn’t face the prospect of pulling an all-nighter to watch the Awards live? No problem: from shock winners and surprise snubs to super-glam presenters and why the Academy has been getting some bad press again this year, read on for our definitive Oscars round-up…
Todd Phillips’ creepy psychological thriller Joker led the pack this year with a whopping 11 nominations including Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Director, whilst Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, The Irishman and 1917 all followed with 10 nominations each. Renee Zellweger was predicted to win Best Actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy, whereas Jennifer Lopez was controversially snubbed for her role in Hustlers (more on that below…). Interestingly, streaming platform Netflix had over 20 nods this year, including Best Picture for Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman featuring acting powerhouses Robert De Niro and Al Pacino and drama film Marriage Story starring Scarlett Johansson, showing Hollywood’s resistance to streaming was short-lived as audiences continue to choose mediums such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to view films and TV programmes.
Last year, the Oscars famously went without a host for the first time in 30 years after Kevin Hart pulled out following public backlash over homophobic tweets. Instead, the show focused on its presenters, such as Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler, as well as actors Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson and Constance Wu. The new format went down pretty well – and as a result, the Academy decided to make do without a host this year too. Previous hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock were the first up to present an award, joking about their demotion from hosting – but this year, the lack of hosts really made it seem like no one was in charge. Presenters showed up in strange places around the theatre, some performers weren’t even introduced and winners were allowed to ramble on for minutes. However, the absolute chaotic highlight had to be Rebel Wilson and James Corden presenting in full Cats costume and makeup, poking fun at the box office flop of 2019.
As was largely expected, Brad Pitt scooped up the award for Best Supporting Actor in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Joaquin Phoenix completed his awards season run by taking home the Best Actor gong for Joker, Renee Zellweger won Best Actress for her role in Judy and Laura Dern won Best Supporting Actress for Netflix’s A Marriage Story. The shock of the night, however, had to go to the Best Picture award, which was won by Parasite, a social satire about two families in Seoul that managed to do what no other subtitled film has done before by winning the coveted Best Picture award.
The Oscars famously came under fire for its lack of diversity in nominations back in 2016 when the infamous hashtag #OscarsSoWhite started trending worldwide – and this year, despite Hollywood being more diverse than ever, the nominations were criticised yet again for their lack of diversity. 31 of the 100 top-grossing films from 2019 cast a non-white person in a starring or co-starring role – that’s a 14% increase from 2018 and a 138% increase from 2007, whilst women and girls starred or co-starred in 3 of the top 100 films in 2019, a 13-year high. However, whilst it’s clear that Hollywood is taking steps to be more inclusive, and despite diverse stars and directors receiving Oscars buzz, this year’s nominees remained as non-diverse as ever. Women were once again completely shut out of the Best Director category (with Natalie Portman’s stunning Dior cape embroidered with the names of all the female directors who weren’t nominated making a powerful statement) whilst the writing categories were male-dominated too – and shockingly, Cynthia Erivo was the only non-white actor to be nominated at the 92nd Awards for her role in Harriet.
A global focus
However, despite the lack of diversity in nominations, the Academy certainly tried to rectify things on the night itself. For starters, Parasite’s Best Picture shock win showed that the Oscars might finally be opening up to the world and joining the 21st century, and there was also a strong emphasis on internationalism throughout the night. There was a speech championing foreign films by Penelope Cruz, a segment about documentary films which included Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, and when Idina Menzel performed her nominated song from Frozen 2, she was joined by the other Elsas who had sung the song from the film’s non-English versions around the world.
The importance of diversity
Whilst lack of representation is still a major problem in the industry, diversity has never been more important. Diversity in Hollywood is no longer just about morals and ethics – if studios today want to create successful films, those films need to be diverse. People want to see themselves on screen – so it makes sense that films need to be inclusive. The proof is in the pudding, with a 2018 Hollywood Diversity study showing audiences prefer diverse films, with minority casts enjoying bigger box office success. As audiences become more diverse and equality becomes more important in society, it makes sense that Hollywood is responding to demand – and by its global focus on the night, it looks like the Oscars are finally getting the message. too. Let’s just hope it is reflected in the nominations next year as well!
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