History was made on Sunday night, and in a good way. For the first time a non-English language film – Parasite – won Best Picture, which was just one of its four-Oscar haul.
Additionally, Jojo Rabbit writer-director Taika Waititi became the first indigenous person of Maori descent to win an Oscar when he picked up the Best Adapted Screenplay award. (Two indigenous people have previously won Oscars: Cherokee-American actor and producer Wes Studi received an honorary Oscar last year, and Canadian-American songwriter / activist Buffy Sainte-Marie won for Best Original Song in 1982 – Up Where We Belong from An Officer and a Gentleman.)
As usual with dresses and speeches, beauty was in the eye of the beholder. I loved Rebel Wilson’s get-up (yes I’m taking about her furry Cats costume which she wore to present the Visual Effects Oscar).
Bovine viewers and vegans alike will have adored Joaquin Phoenix’s Best Actor acceptance speech, a week after he called out racism at the BAFTAs, as he railed against our theft of milk from cows.
Though I’m not sure I can give milk up yet. Ask me again after I’ve had my coffee. And my cheese toastie. And my sugar puffs.
I didn’t watch the whole ceremony. I lasted til 2am UK time which meant I work up to the news about Parasite, Judy, Parasite, Joker, 1917, Hair Love and Parasite. (Only three Parasites as I was still up for the first win).
The intricate, biting satire from South Korean writer-director Bong Joon-Ho not only won the big prize of the night but also netted Bong the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay awards, and the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.
Parasite was already a worldwide hit going into the Oscar race, with a global take of over $165 million (it also had a very successful opening in the UK this past weekend).
Bong is now only the second person to win four Oscars in one night (Walt Disney did the same in 1953).
After last year’s dubious Best Picture triumph for the regressive Green Book, this felt like a correction, and hopefully a sign of things to come.
In Bong Joon-ho’s acceptance speech for his Best Director Oscar he spoke about Martin Scorsese and Tarantino.
“When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is that ‘The most personal is the most creative.‘ That quote is from our great Martin Scorsese. When I was in school, I studied Martin Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated was a huge honor. I never thought I would win.“
He finished with “Thank you. I will drink until next morning, thank you.” (Read the full transcript here.)
The film’s stars, despite critical acclaim, weren’t nominated for any of the Oscar acting awards.
Laura Dern and Brad Pitt picked up the supporting actress/actor awards for Marriage Story and Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood respectively. In her speech she said “Some say ‘Never meet your heroes,’ but I say if you’re really blessed, you get them as your parents” – a reference to Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, her mum and dad.
Taika Waititi won for best adapted screenplay (Jojo Rabbit is based on Christine Leunens’s book Caging Skies). In his acceptance speech he talked about how he hoped indigenous kids who wanted to do art would see him, calling indigenous people the original storytellers. (Waititi has Jewish and Mãori heritage.)
Brie Larson filmed him stuffing his Oscar under his seat later (this is why Oscars should be pocket-sized. And all nominees’ dresses should come with pockets.)
— Brie Larson (@brielarson) February 10, 2020
1917, the WW1 movie filmed to look like a one-shot take that was tipped for Best Picture, won Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins, his second Oscar (he’s been nominated 15 times). It also won Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Mixing.
Best Animated Short went to Hair Love, a film that was made after a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign. The film, written and directed by Matthew A. Cherry and co-produced with Karen Rupert Toliver, is about a Black father and daughter, and his attempts to do her hair. You can watch it here:
Best Documentary Short went to Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re A Girl). American Factory won Best Documentary, and Toy Story 4 Best Animated Feature.
Little Women took home one prize: Best Costume Design for Jacqueline Durran (her second Oscar win). Once Upon A Time In…Hollywood won the production design award.
Brad Pitt continued his 2020 awards season run of great speeches, including a shoutout to stunt performers (who still don’t have their own Oscar). He dedicated his award to his children.
Janelle Monáe opened the ceremony with a musical honouring of nominees and those who missed out, particularly women and people of colour; she said how proud she was to be there as a “black queer artist, telling stories”. It was based on her own song Come Alive, with lyrics changed to reflect the Oscars and issues around nominations this year.
Every Best Original Song nominee was performed during the ceremony, including Idina Menzel singing Into The Unknown from Frozen II with an international cast of Elsas, all of whom dubbed the character in the film for other territories. (I’m a sucker for Into The Unknown – hell I think the Frozen II soundtrack is better than the first film’s – and I loved this performance.)
Eminem surprised the audience with a performance of Lose Yourself, from his film 8 Mile, 18 years after the song won him an Oscar. He didn’t turn up that year to accept his award.
He explained a bit more on Twitter this morning:
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) February 10, 2020
After Janelle Monáe’s opener, Steve Martin and Chris Rock turned up to joke about their demotion as ex-Oscar hosts now the ceremony doesn’t have any, and for a brief minute I wondered if they were in fact hosting and it was all an elaborate prank – as they skewered Jeff Bezos for getting divorced and still being the world’s richest man afterwards.
But no. We did get a steady stream of presenters though, some of whom worked better than others.
Rebel Wilson, fresh off her hilarious BAFTA presenter speech a week ago, and James Corden, introduced the Best Visual Effects nominees dressed in their Cats outfits; Maya Rudolph and Kristin Wiig sang a medley of songs about clothes for Best Costume Design; and Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton together introduced Best Original Screenplay.
And despite me still being awake for Keanu (who brought his mother as his guest to the ceremony), I also managed to miss him as I was switching from watching the ceremony on a time lag to watching it live. Still, that’s what YouTube is for.