Despite the controversy over hosts, old tweets, the threat of a “Popular Film” category, and the suggestion that some awards might not be televised, the 91st Academy Awards went on as planned last night at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.
Going forward without a host for the first time in 30 years and struggling to attract advertisers, last night’s Oscars still managed to go exceed its three-hour run time by almost 20 minutes. With the exception of Best Supporting Actor and Actress, every major award aired after 10:30 p.m.
Rami Malek scooped up his first Oscar for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” capping off a nearly perfect sweep of every major award for his work as Freddie Mercury. After scooping Best Actress at almost every other awards show in the past few months, Glenn Close in “The Wife” lost out to a giddy Olivia Colman for her “The Favourite” portrayal of Queen Anne. The heavy favorite for Best Picture, “Roma,” lost to Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” in a major upset to end the broadcast, but there were few other surprises.
The complete list of winners can be found here, but when they weren’t giving out awards over the substantial broadcast, there were a few other things going on. Here are the best and worst moments of the show.
Adam Lambert and Queen
The show opened with the surviving members of the band Queen playing “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” with 2009 “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert filling in for the late Freddie Mercury.
Lambert is a good enough singer, but if it is to be assumed that everyone in the audience has seen “Bohemian Rhapsody” they are currently regarding Mercury as an integral and irreplaceable part of Queen’s sound. This performance likely came across like a mediocre cover band, nothing like the real thing. Hologram Mercury would have been less awkward.
Tom Morello Presenting ‘Vice’
The former Rage Against the Machine guitarist mysteriously graced the stage alone to introduce the film about former Vice President Dick Cheney. The choice of Morello continued to be unexplained as he introduced the film by saying, “War, greed, truth, lies, fatherhood, love, and betrayal all swirl around in ‘Vice,’ with a hard backbeat and a killer baseline. But every one will do the one thing it makes us do: react.” Okay, so he used to be in an angry rock band and the film might make you angry? If that was the intent, it went over most people’s heads.
— sarah 🌻 (@bookie_wookiee) February 25, 2019
Jennifer Hudson Singing ‘I’ll Fight’ from ‘RBG’ Documentary
This Diane Warren-penned song isn’t particularly appealing to begin with, although it seems unlikely that writing an original song for a documentary about a Supreme Court Justice is an easy task. However, the song wasn’t helped by its Oscar performance.
Somehow, the incredibly talented Jennifer Hudson seemed off her game, belting out flat notes for tremendously long amounts of time. The stage design featured a projected, detached head of Ruth Bader Ginsburg that almost looked like a poltergeist. If the performance was meant to be inspiring, it missed the mark by a mile.
— Erin Hassanzadeh WCCO (@erinreportsTV) February 25, 2019
I’m glad it wasn’t cut from the telecast, and Jennifer Hudson can sing conviction into almost anything, but let’s just say it: that RBG song is bloody awful.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) February 25, 2019
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings performing ‘When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings’
This song was my favorite part of “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and this performance by its writers is absolutely charming.
Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey Introducing ‘Bohemanian Rhapsody’
The “Wayne’s World” duo reunited to pay homage to their favorite tune and its namesake movie. Meyers and Carvey may have seen a lot of years since the last time they channeled Wayne and Garth, but they brought every bit of energy with them for the most excellent introduction.
Rudd and Sarah Paulson gave out the award for Best Special Effects, and as usual Paul was the most charming person in the room. Paulson said, “Today’s effects artists collaborate with every other department to convince audiences of even the most implausible reality. This is the kind of magic that allows the audience to believe that I was actually obliterated by a truck in ‘Bird Box.’” Rudd responded, “The same kind of magic that allows an audience to believe that I am an actor.” He really is America’s goofy boyfriend, and I’m always here for it.
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper Perform ‘Shallow’
There was a lot of pressure on this performance, as they haven’t sung the song together for the entire awards season. They did not disappoint. Entering the stage from their seats in the front row, they had no set other than a grand piano and a back-up band. The performance was raw, heartfelt, and some of the best stuff I’ve seen musically at the Oscars that I can remember.
Her win for Best Actress was unexpected by us at home, but no one seemed more surprised than Olivia. After she swapped between giggling and crying on stage, she finally squeaked out, “This is hilarious.” Pulling herself together, she made sweet tributes to her colleagues and family and said, “Any little girl whose practiced their speech on the telly, you never know!”
I’ve never been happier to see someone win an Oscar.