I have a few thoughts.
First, addressing the controversies that popped up throughout the year. I am grateful they did not award a most popular picture category, as I've written before. That is not what this ceremony is for, and thankfully cooler heads prevail. That did not prevent well-seen popular films from being nominated or even winning awards. Black Panther took home three Academy awards for Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Production Design, and for Best Score. A first for a Marvel Studios Production.
I'm also glad they put the Best Film Editing, Best Film Cinematography, Beast Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Live-Action Short back into the broadcast. The broadcast ran at a brisk three hours and eighteen minutes, longer than they hoped for, but still very efficient. If they really wanted to fix the broadcast in an impactful way, they might decide against airing only one announcement between commercial breaks as the night goes on. I don't need a break between Best Director and Best Picture and they are not really changing the set, so there's no need to shoehorn in the commercial there.
Plus, getting the televised ceremony under three hours is not going to attract new viewers to the broadcast. Many of the people who are not watching the Oscars are not going to watch the Oscars no matter what the Academy changes. From the people engaging in a so called "boycott" for political reasons to those who have no interest in the awards at all, perhaps it's time to stop trying to cater to a crowd that doesn't want to watch? The "boycotts" fascinate me for two reasons. First, generally the people claiming to boycott would not have watched the ceremony for any reason. Second, the same people who want to boycott because of the political content of the show (i.e. the political jokes by the hosts and presenters and the potential political speeches of the recipients) are generally the first people to share on social media when a celebrity endorses their particular ideology. Just an observation.
The lack of a host changed things in an unexpected way for me.
The show was boring without a host.
A host brings their personality into the show and generally gives the show its personality. Without a host to provide color commentary or to smooth transitions, the show was a rapid fire movement between presenters of the awards with only a disembodied voice announcing the presenters. There's no soul to the show, it just kind of happens. Hopefully, there will not be a repeat next year, and perhaps they can bring along some classically entertaining hosts to provide a great spirit to the show.
It also did not help that there were no real surprises (beyond the bombshell at the end of the night). The awards were largely expected. A few minor brights spots, but those still generally fell into expected votes. Even the award to Green Book for Best Picture, while problematic, falls into a predictable pattern for the Academy. Once you figure the Academy did not want to reward Netflix, Roma is out. Then you assume Bohemian Rhapsody had enough controversy around it early enough to put off voters. That leaves Green Book, a "safe" picture that supposedly deals with a tough topic and was seen by a decent enough population. While personally, BlacKkKlansman should have won, I would have anticipated A Star is Born to be the surer bet.
While I would not go as far as to say it is the worst best picture since Crash, as the LA Times has done, Green Book is problematic. A film about race that downplays the contributions of the African American subject of the story. A film which did not consult his family for contribution to the story, and whose family has protested its release. Knowing the controversy around the film and the way it is presented, really taint enjoyment of the film and the award. Again, hopefully next year, the ref's make a better call, to paraphrase Spike Lee.
A few rapid fire thoughts to wrap up:
- The Queen opening kind of just happened and did not work as well as they hoped it would. Adam Lambert is no Freddie Mercury.
- Politics were way down, despite what the Twitter of a leader might say
- Very happy for Into the Spider-Verse to win Best Animated Feature.
- So glad Spike Lee finally got his Oscar. He should have won at least one more.
- Olivia Colman delivered the best speech of the night.
- Really appreciative of the thought that went into each of the celebrities introducing the nominees for Best Picture.
- Love that John Williams Superman score was used for the In Memoriam section, but TCM still makes a better one.
- Props to Trevor Noah for one great hidden joke.
- Also to Tyler Perry.
Did you watch the ceremony? What were your thoughts?
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