2019 Oscars Review

Let’s take a look back at the highs and lows of the hostless 2019 Oscars


The 2019 Oscars were a night to remember.

On Sunday February 24, The Academy awarded the best achievements in film from the past year, and the hostless night was a mostly spectacular event. The lack of a host actually helped set a nice pace for the show, in addition to the electrifying opening performance from Queen and Adam Lambert, and begs the question of if the Oscars even need a host in future years. The red carpet was almost as exciting as the regular show too. The biggest show stopping moments on the 2019 Oscars red carpet were the abundance of pink outfits, Glenn Close in her dress that weighed over 40 pounds, and of course Billy Porter in a Christian Siriano tuxedo gown. So if it wasn’t the lack of a host or red carpet that was the problem at the 2019 Oscars then what was?

The glaring problem at this year’s Oscars was the questionable Best Picture choice as well as a few other head scratching winners. Most of the awards were not surprising (despite completely veering off from my predictions), but the few stand out shockers of the night are ones that will be talked about for a long time. And most likely not in a good way.

Let’s break down that unfortunate best picture win. Peter Farrelly’s Green Book took home the top prize of the evening despite only having a 16.3 % chance of winning according to Ben Zauzmer’s mathematical analysis of the nominees. I had hoped for another repeat of the 2017 Oscars and waited patiently for Julia Roberts to correct herself and announce that Roma or another one of the nominated films had actually won, but alas she did not. And so Peter Farrelly rushed to the stage to collect the award that nobody but the Academy apparently wanted him to have. This road trip buddy dramedy follows the story of an African American pianist, Don Shirley, and his Italian-American driver, Tony Vallelonga, as they embark on a concert tour around the deep south in the 1960s. The movie is enjoyable on the surface level. It uses cliches and stereotypes to propel the story and ultimately ties everything up with an uplifting ending, making the average movie goer content. But compared to the other nominees this year, Green Book is a deeply average winner. The film glazes over the race issues by alluding that everything is solved now in their society since everything is tied up with an optimistic bow by the end of the film, treats Don Shirley’s sexuality as a mindless plot point, and puts the story of pianist, Don Shirley, on the back burner to instead focus on how his driver learns to not judge a book by its cover. So although many movie viewers enjoyed the film, there is a vast difference between a film just being enjoyable to the average audience and a film actually being Oscar worthy.

Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman was a much stronger best picture choice than Peter Farrelly’s Green Book.

The general consensus following the announcement that Green Book won best picture was just plain confusion. Similar to the reaction that ensued when it won at the Golden Globes, many people wondered how the voting boards reached this decision. Why did the Academy award another road trip dramedy when Driving Miss Daisy already has a best picture win in the past? Isn’t it time to award more original story lines? Additionally, if the Academy truly wanted to celebrate a film that addressed the difficult conversation of racism in the United States then they should have instead awarded Spike Lee’s film Blackkklansman, which tells the true story of an African American police officer who was assigned to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s in Colorado. Lee’s film was a much more powerful and well done film about racism than Green Book ever was and yet the latter now has their name etched into the Dolby Theatre lobby forever. I still do not know how this won best picture.

I grew up watching foreign language films and learning so much from them and being inspired. Films like Citizen Kane, Jaws, The Godfather…”

— Alfonso Cuarón, following Roma's best foreign film win.

The predicted best picture winner, Roma, still took home three awards of the night including best director, best cinematography, and best foreign film. But it still leaves many wondering what happened to Roma’s clear front runner status in the best picture race. Differing from pre award season predicted winner A Star is Born, which lost steam before the season even started, Roma consistently won at every award show and had every sign pointing to them also getting a best picture win at the Oscars. I think the fact that Roma was produced and streamed on Netflix is the biggest aspect that hurt them in the long run. The Academy is not ready to award a film with this level of prestige when it barely even spent time in the actual movie theater. Additionally, a foreign film has never won best picture before and although I believed Roma could be the first one to achieve this, it also might have contributed to their down fall. The academy might not have been willing to award best picture to a film that already had best foreign film under their belt. Regardless of what reasons contributed to it, Roma unfortunately did not prevail victorious in the best picture race at the Oscars.

It is impossible to review Hollywood’s biggest night for film and not acknowledge all the wonderful moments of the night as well. The most evident high point of the night were the many firsts that were accomplished. Marvel Studios received their first three Oscar wins for the film, Black Panther. The success of the film Black Panther opens the door for future Marvel projects at big name award shows and makes the idea of a Superhero film winning best picture sometime in the future even more of a possibility. The wins of Black Panther were also monumental as Ruth E Carter (costume design) and Hannah Beachler (production design) became the first African American women to receive wins for these categories. Prior to the evening, only one African American woman had won an Oscar for something other than acting. The diversity of winners only continued throughout the night as Roma became the first Mexican film to win best foreign film and Spike Lee finally won an Oscar (best adapted screenplay) after his 30+ years of stunning, moving work in the film industry. Powerhouse musician, Lady Gaga, also won her first Oscar for best original song “Shallow” from A Star is Born. She performed this song during the show with film costar, Bradley Cooper, and let me just say that the romantic tension and chemistry they had during that delivery was palpable. It is definitely a must watch moment from the show.

In conclusion, if we look past the awards for best editing and best picture that I do not agree with, the 2019 Oscars were a wonderful time. They featured many first time winners and historic moments that are sure to last in moviegoers’ minds. Additionally, despite the lack of a host, viewership was up 12% from last year and will hopefully continue to improve for future shows. Overall, the show was still a great celebration of cinema, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2020 award season takes away from this show.

To see the full list of 2019 Oscars winners, click here: https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2019

Twitter: @greenbookmovie
Green Book took home the top prize of the night as well as two other awards.