Oscars 2019 highlights: Rami Malek, Olivia Colman's heartfelt speeches stole an otherwise low-key show
Olivia Colman and Rami Malek’s stirring speeches stole an otherwise low-key show on a night when a workmanlike yet dubiously charming film took home the Best Picture statuette.
Olivia Colman and Rami Malek’s stirring speeches stole an otherwise low-key show on a night when a workmanlike yet dubiously charming film took home the Best Picture statuette.Green Book pipped Blackkklansman and Roma to the post, leaving Spike Lee to exhort Americans to make the right moral choice and ‘do the right thing’ after winning for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma bagged the Foreign Film, Cinematography and Directing awards. And going by the reactions of the audience at every mention of the film during the ceremony, one can safely say that Netflix has well and truly arrived on the biggest stage of them all.
The evening began with legendary Queen guitarist Brian May taking to the stage. It was a sign of things to come: Bohemian Rhapsody’s dream run at the box office was complimented with four Oscars by the end of the evening. Had the Academy not jettisoned plans to introduce an Oscar for the best popular film, Bohemian Rhapsody might as well have given Black Panther a run for its money in the category. Ryan Coogler’s widely celebrated superhero film was rewarded with three Oscars by the academy and ecstatic cheering from the crowd.
Sticking to tradition, the Academy chose to present a widely digestible political outlook, one that nods its head this way and that without risking commitment in either direction. For it represents itself first and foremost, and one can always discern a yearning for the good ol’ days in its choice of winners. Green Book’s triumph — a well-ironed production in the classical vein that asks people to look beyond their racial differences towards their humanity — over more polished and sophisticated works of art flows from that sentiment. But the Academy rewarded Blackkklansman and Black Panther en-route, thereby making a point in its uniquely safe way.
There was little fun to be had owing to the absence of a host. But that put the awards and the winners on centre stage.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 25, 2019
So while Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of their Oscar nominated song won hearts, the night belonged to Malek and Colman. The lead acting award winners delivered ecstatic, heartfelt, inspiring and, in Colman’s case, hilarious speeches. Malek wasn’t shy of bringing up his immigrant roots while Colman batted for any ‘little girl sitting before a telly’ and dreaming of making it one day. Their surges of emotion lit up an Oscar night that desperately needed a burst of euphoria. Who better to offer it than the actor awardees.
Mexico’s domination of the directing category continued with Cuarón taking home the award for his most personal film to date. He is most certainly one of the greatest living directors and his Roma was always expected to win big. Although it failed to win the biggest award of the night, its multiple wins will satisfy a lot of folk, Netflix chief among them. More significantly, it’s a triumph for storytelling that tells a tender, little tale on a big scale, about people leading quiet, dutiful lives usually relegated to the background of history.
One can complain endlessly about the films that were unfairly unrepresented or underrepresented at the Oscars: This film should have won over that one, and that the best films failed to make the nominations. But that’s perhaps giving the Oscars too much credit. It is simply an annual cavalcade which, beneath all the glitter and song and dance, seeks to pit one work of art against another in a bid to drive up ratings and prove that movies are worth celebrating on a massive scale. Anyone who loves movies celebrates them every single time they walk into a theatre or secretly sob in front of a television. The intimacy a film fosters within us doesn’t require widespread approval. But it can make us feel nice and warm when it does.
For an art form so fundamentally collaborative, it’s heartwarming to see a Roma or a Black Panther win an award on the same stage as Bao, a short animated film with a minuscule budget about a dumpling that comes to life. A good story can go anywhere and spirit us along with it.
Even though the Oscars do not always represent the best platform for great storytelling to be rewarded, one can rely on individual stories to hope that it one day does. And that’s what the Academy, and in a completely different spirit, the storyteller, counts upon.
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