It’s over! The winners of Oscars 2020 are in and it was an historic night. Here are the highlights and low lights beginning with the evening’s BEST moment:
***PARASITE winning four Oscars including the first time in Oscar history that a non-English film, as well as a South Korean film, won Best Picture. It is also the first film to win both Best Picture and Best International Feature Film. It also won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year plus an historic SAG award, a BAFTA, GOLDEN GLOBE, CRITICS CHOICE , INDEPENDENT SPIRIT and WRITERS GUILD AWARDs, etc etc etc. This movie about class warfare, a global problem, has broken records and boundaries, and is essentially the Universal Best Film of the year.
***Former Oscar hosts Steve Martin & Chris Rock opening the show and together pulling the rug out from under any vestiges of smugness in the room. Their vamping on everything from why there was no host, to the lack of diversity among the nominees, was hilarious, smart, and on target.
***Best Actress nominee in “Harriet,” Cynthia Erivo, and her towering performance of “Stand Up” one of the best nominated songs of the year, much better than Elton John’s performance of his generic Oscar-winning tune from “Rocketman.”
***Supernova Brad Pitt and his sincerely humble acceptance speech for his Best Supporting Actor win, which took us back to his beginnings “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” indeed.
***Idina Menzel singing “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen 2” with Aurora and Elsa’s from around the world singing the same song with her in different languages! The number reinforced the global power of movies and pointed toward the international turn the Oscars would take later that night in choosing the South Korean film PARASITE as the Best Picture and Best International Feature.
***Eminem?? I didn’t get it. Neither did Oscar-nominated Marty Scorsese who took Eminem’s surprise performance “Lose Yourself” (from the movie “8 mile”) literally–and dozed off.
In the course of the evening, Scorsese received several shout outs and at one point an impromptu standing “O,” though nary an Oscar. As for Eminem’s cameo? His rousing performance got some in the audience moving, but it seemed a clumsy ploy to engage those who fancied themselves young and hip, while those who really are, like Billy Eilish, were perplexed.
I was equally mystified by rapper Utkarsh Ambudkar (Mindy Kaling’s brother on “The Mindy Project”and now on ABC’s “The Muppets”) who (w)rapped up the ceremony– half way through! Whaaaa? Whyyyyy?
***The time should have been spent on Oscar-winner and Massachusetts native Geena Davis. She looked ravishing, cool, and supremely stylish and was granted a mere wave from her seat instead of an onstage acceptance speech for receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award for her relentless, urgently needed work on female representation in the movies, on screen and behind the scenes. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has done groundbreaking research and gathered crucial the data to advocate for gender parity, a message that should have been delivered last night from a woman in the trenches of this unglamorous work.
***Billy Eilish’s tender rendition of “Yesterday” during the “in memoriam” montage of those we’ve lost in the industry this past year was quite moving.
***But where was the beloved Luke Perry from the list of late greats? He passed away suddenly earlier this year and even made his final onscreen appearance in one of this year’s Best Picture nominees “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.” Doesn’t anyone check these things? They have all year to keep track and get this right.
***Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech as Best Actor. I know folks may have gotten lost when he started talking about cows and their milk. But what he communicated was so beautiful and true, that human beings at the top of the heap are not entitled to enslave those below, which insures our mutual destruction, and separates us from our natural place as part of all life on the planet. That requires humility and compassion, which he thanked the room for, specifically folks who had given him a second chance when he behaved like a self-described “scoundrel.” His final invocation of a line of lyrics written by his late brother 17 year-old River said it all: “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”
***Tom Hanks, Charlize, and the rest of the audience shouting to bring up the lights and the mikes when the producers tried to end the show so that Miky Lee a powerful Korean entertainment industry executive could make closing remarks to those back home in South Korea and the rest of the world about “Parasite”‘s historic win.
Finally, a word about Oscar-winner Jane Fonda. She changed her hair but not her red Elie Saab gown, one that she had worn to the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, staying true to her promise not to buy any more clothes. In a nod to conservation, sustainable fashion, and climate change, the legendary activist carried that red coat over her arm as evidence of the last piece of clothing she swore she’d ever buy because “We don’t need more stuff.” That’s what 82 looks like now, inside and out. Thank you, Jane.