The Oscars forged ahead this year without a host, following the step down of former host pick, comedian Kevin Hart. Nevertheless, as the old adage goes, the show must go on, and fears that the broadcast would be a total trainwreck were quelled, following a rocking opening by Queen and the hilarious onstage banter of three of our “Favourite” funny ladies, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. While the evening’s entertainment value was mostly lackluster, this year’s ceremony surprised us all with moments of beautiful grace and civility, diversity among the winners, and of course drop-dead gorgeous red carpet moments.
Maybe the evening went well because Marie Kondo showed up to make sure that everything that transpired only sparked joy, or perhaps the absence of a host automatically changed the structure of the normally political ceremony in a positive way. Whatever the reason may be, here are five highlights from last night’s 91st Academy Awards.
Queen Opened the Show
The ceremony opened in style with rock band Queen and singer Adam Lambert performing “We Will Rock You.” Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic based on Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, received five nominations and won in four categories including Rami Malek for Best Actor. The energetic performance full of riveting light effects and smoke machines set the tone for the rest of the ceremony, and the performance is likely to go down in Oscars history.
Chivalry Took Center Stage
Chris Evans, aka Captain America, made us swoon when he escorted Regina King as she walked up the stairs to accept her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk. The sweet superhero was sitting in the front row when he rushed to offer King his arm. Later, he offered his arm to Jennifer Lopez as they co-presented Best Production Design. Because good things always come in threes, Evans played knight in shining armor back in 2015 when he escorted Betty White on stage during the 2015 People's Choice Awards. “Chris Evans wins Best at Supporting Actress,” one Twitter user quipped!
Diversity Was Not Just Among the Nominees, but Among the Winners
The Academy has been criticized in the past for the lack of diversity among the nominees, but this year’s awards showcased diversity both among the nominees and among the winners. Notable nominees included Yalitza Aparicio for her role in Roma, making her the first indigenous woman to be nominated for an Oscar. And the award show broke down barriers as many men and women of color swept up awards across multiple categories. Three of the four acting categories went to actors of color, including Regina King (Best Supporting Actress, If Beale Street Could Talk), Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor, Green Book), and Rami Malek (Best Actor, Bohemian Rhapsody). Ali won the same award for Moonlight in 2017, making him the first black actor to have repeated wins in the same category. Malek is the first Arab-American to win for Best Actor.
The night was especially significant for women of color. Black Panther’s female-led production team took the Oscars by storm, with Ruth E. Carter winning for best costume and Hannah Beachler taking home best production design, making them the second and third black women in Oscar history to win non-acting awards. Beachler was also the first black women to be nominated for production design.
Finally, leading up to Roma’s win for Best Foreign Film, presenter Diego Luna opened his speech in Spanish. Translated, he said: “It’s possible to speak Spanish at the Oscars now. They finally opened the door for us, and we’re not going anywhere.” It was a groundbreaking night, reminding us how diverse backgrounds add value not only to powerful stories but to all range of work.
A Movie About Menstruation Won for Documentary Short Subject
The Netflix documentary, Period. End of Sentence, won the award for best documentary short subject. The film follows women in India fighting the taboos surrounding menstruation and how the installation of a pad manufacturing machine empowered women. The film is only 26-minutes long, and it’s the brainchild of Iranian-American director Rayka Zehtabchi and The Pad Project, a non-profit organization established by a teacher Melissa Berton and her students from Oakwood School in Los Angeles.
"I'm not crying because I'm on my period or anything,” Zehtabchi jokes on stage. "I can't believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” It’s brilliant that a film meant to fight taboos surrounding menstruation further challenged the status-quo by winning an award during the high-profile award ceremony. “It breaks your heart to think that people think that the period is a source of shame,” Bertson said. “We’re excited to be a little part of breaking that taboo.”
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Perform “Shallow”
The dynamic duo from A Star is Born performed the original song “Shallow” live during the ceremony. “Shallow,” which was written by Gaga, ended up winning for the Best Original Song category. The pair made their entrance to the stage from the audience, as if to suggest the challenges the song expresses could relate to any stars in attendance, and the duo subtly acted in their performance to draw out the drama of the story. Gaga played the piano and belted out the lyrics as Cooper joined her at the piano. Watching the emotionally charged performance between Cooper and Gaga gave us goosebumps, and Gaga’s strong voice and presence ultimately stole the show.
This movie is actually the fourth remake of the tragic, yet beautiful, cautionary tale. Lady Gaga followed in the footsteps of Barbra Streisand, who starred in the 1976 version of A Star is Born and who won the same award for her best original song “Evergreen” during the 1977 Oscars’ ceremony.
Some honorable mentions include Olivia Colman’s hilarious and genuine acceptance speech after winning the award for Best Actress in The Favourite; and Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry presenting the award for Best Costume Design dressed in goofy, full-period costume, spoofing The Favourite.
Another year's Oscars are in the books. Read the full list of winners here. What were your favorite moments?