From ‘Parasite‘ winning the Oscar for ‘best picture’ to Brad Pitt mentioning Trump impeachment in his maiden Oscar win for ‘best supporting role,’ this year’s Academy night will go down in history as the night of many firsts.
Oscars, that were predominantly white until a few years ago, made an array of redemption moves to make the renowned ceremony a more inclusive one.
How successful they were, one can debate.
However, with the historic win of ‘Parasite‘- the South Korean black comedy thriller – a 92-year-old regularity (more of a tradition) was broken.
A surprise outcome, given the contending movie for the best picture were – World War I epic ‘1917;‘ followed by Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece ‘Once Upon a Time …in Hollywood‘; the dark ‘Joker;’ and Martin Scorsese’s Netflix crime drama ‘The Irishman.’
Audiences worldwide hailed Parasite win as the dawn of change, but the fact that the ensemble cast of the Bong Joon Ho’s directorial masterpiece remained unnominated for any individual acting nominations can’t be overlooked.
The happening bears the uncanny similarity to what happened with Slumdog Millionaire that bagged ‘Best Picture 2009’ Oscar but failed to get any nomination for acting awards.
The Academy this year renamed the former ‘foreign-language film’ category to ‘international feature film’ for which Bong Joon-ho appreciated the Oscars while graciously accepted the ‘best director award.’
Bong in his speech said, “I applaud and support the direction that this new change symbolizes” and finished his speech with, “I am ready to drink tonight.”
Another first was the original screenplay Oscar for Mr. Bong and Han Jin Won – the co-writer of Parasite – that marks the first time an Asian nominee has won in any writing category.
There was Bong Joon-ho who lauded the Academy in his speeches, and then there were Brad Pitt and Joaquin Phoenix.
While one used the platform to poke joke at US politics, the other gave a rousing speech on inequality, human cruelty and second chances.
The suave Brad Pitt won his maiden Oscar for best actor in a supporting role for his part as an ageing stuntman in Once Upon a time in… Hollywood.
He continued his streak of jokes from other award shows and said, he has only 45 seconds to go which is more than what the senate gave to John Bolton.
Bolton was Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and offered to testify before the senate.
“I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it. And in the end the adults do the right thing”, Pitt added sarcastically.
Joaquin Phoenix, after giving an unforgettable performance as maniac joker in the namesake movie, delivered an equally powerful speech at the award ceremony.
Accepting the award for best actor the 45-year-old actor started the speech with some pressing issues like gender inequality, racism, queer right and environmental exploitation.
“We are talking about second chances where we support each other, educate each other and guide each other, creating the best of humanity,” Phoenix said.
He ended his emotionally charged speech with the lines his brother wrote, “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”
Besides speeches, actress Natalie Portman, who has been vocal about the discrimination regarding women directors in Hollywood, managed to turn heads with her Dior cape gown.
The outfit that looks simple at first glance, had in the lining of the dress, names of eight woman directors of critically-acclaimed 2019 films – none of whom were nominated for the best director category even this year.
The women directors on her cape are: Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Mati Diop (Atlantics), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).
“I wanted to recognise the women who were not recognised for their incredible work this year in a subtle way,” Portman said in the red carpet interview.
This year also marked the second year of the Oscars without any host after the Academy went host-free last year.
In 2019, Kevin Hart who was chosen to host the award nights backed out from the job after coming under social media fire for the old homophobic jokes he’d made on Twitter.
Ironically, without the host, last year’s Oscars ceremony saw a slight upward shift in the number of viewers after an overall rating decline.
However, after this year, if the overall situation of the Oscars improves remains to be seen.