Oscars: The More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same

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This year’s Oscars telecast was perhaps the first I remember where the actual telecast seemed a little anticlimactic at first.

Kevin Hart’s going to be our host! No, wait, never mind! But we WILL have a popular movie category! No, no, scratch that, too! But we FOR SURE will hand out awards during commercial breaks! On second thought …

The show itself boasted so much drama that the actual nominated dramas felt a little secondary … at least before the show began.

But for all those threatened changes, and with the Oscars going host-less for the first time since 1989, the telecast had a distinctly retro vibe to it, right down to its Best Picture winner.

Green Book was an upset. Most folks had expected Roma to waltz away with the night’s biggest award. And in retrospect, a few Green Book voters might wish it had.

In a Best Picture slate filled with daring, often angry contenders, Green Book felt like a little of old Hollywood come back to visit. Its story dealt with racism, yes, but in a kinder, gentler fashion than, say, Spike Lee’s powerful-but-shrill BlacKkKlansman, and without the regal superhero sweep of Black Panther. Green Book was a smaller story with, in a way, smaller ambitions. It was the sort of feel-good, issues-oriented film that Academy voters have often been drawn to.

But we live in more fractious times. And for many, Green Book was out of step with them. Spike Lee was visibly upset with Green Book’s victory. And when asked about it afterward, he said, “The ref made a bad call.”

Speaking of Lee, he won his first Oscar last night, for Best Adapted Screenplay. But when he took the stage, he was so profane, and the Academy censored so much of what he said, that I thought that the audio feed for my television set was going out.

“Do not turn that [censored] clock on,” he reportedly said as he accepted his award. He then launched into an explicitly political acceptance speech, telling folks to vote and “make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

The telecast had many a political and quasi-political moment, with both winners and presenters making references to immigration and walls and feminism and race relations. But that’s hardly new, is it? Indeed, if anything, it felt to me as if the political commentary was turned down a notch compared to last year’s show.

Also under the category of “nothing new to see here,” both Glenn Close and Amy Adams still have never won an Oscar.

Close’s loss to Olivia Colman in the Best Actress category might’ve been the biggest upset of the night. Close, who won a wheelbarrow-full of trophies leading up to the Oscars, was expected to finally nab the big one for her performance in The Wife—her seventh Oscar nomination without a win. Instead, Colman’s funny, pitiful, tragic take on Queen Anne in The Favourite won the night.

“You’ve been my idol for so long, and this is not how I wanted it to be!” Colman said from the stage.

Amy Adams, of course, was not expected to win for her performance in Vice, her sixth nomination. I was frankly expecting another Favourite actress—Rachel Weitz or Emma Stone—to pick up the statuette here. Instead, it was Regina King from If Beale Street Could Talk, who wound up giving the most faith-inflected speech of the night.

And as been its way as of late, Oscar spread its love around. Green Book earned three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Mahershala Ali) and Best Original Screenplay. That mark was equaled by two other films—Roma (including one for Best Director) and Black Panther. And Bohemian Rhapsody, considered a dark horse for Academy love before the nominations were announced, took home four, including one for Rami Malek for Best Actor.

Interestingly, Malek’s win highlights one of the night’s biggest winners: television. The Bohemian Rhapsody star first earned fame for his work in USA’s Mr. Robot (for which he won an Emmy in 2016). And Regina King has collected three Emmys already, and she’ll be taking part on HBO’s take on Watchmen soon. Meanwhile, Colman has been a fixture on British television for years now, and she’ll be taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth on Netflix’s The Crown. Oh, lest we forget, Ali was the anchor for the third season of HBO’s True Detective.

In the world of entertainment a decade ago, television still played little sister to the power and prestige of film. Clearly, that’s not necessarily the case anymore.

Seems like some things do change, after all.

 

 

 

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 7 months ago
The fact that Death of Stalin got no nominations is indefensible. It was possibly the greatest film of last year, and of of the greatest of all time.
-David the Clown 
Alicia Herrington 7 months ago
I agree. I thought at very least should have gotten a nod for score. That was one of the few scores that stuck in my head afterwards. It perfectly complemented the film in so many ways.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy 

Aquaman not getting nominated for Best Visual Effects made this year’s Oscars an instant pass for me frankly.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Yes! The only reason Black Panther got any love was because it dealt with politics. And if they had snubbed Spider-Man: ITSV a lot of people would have hated them. The academy needs to get over politics and start paying attention to stories that are actually good!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
charitysplace 7 months ago
I haven't watched the Oscars in a long time. I just go online the next day to stare in horror at what the actresses wore. I would like to see "Green Book," though. For itself. Not because it won an Oscar.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Black Panther deserved Best Picture. It's time comic book films start getting some love, not just the political ones. The Dark Knight should have also won BP. 

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
Honestly, even though I wasn't a big fan of BP, it totally should have won Best Picture. 
Anonymous 7 months ago
I wasn't a huge fan of it either! But it would have been nice to see a superhero film win Best Picture. I feel like it was Marvel's best chance because it dealt with Politics in it and the Oscar's is Hollywood's Political Acknowledgment Festival.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
charitysplace 7 months ago
I'm relieved "Black Panther" didn't win. It's incredibly overrated.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I would have liked to see recognition of the Superhero genre. I don't particularly like BP as much as other Marvel films, but it would be nice to have some recognition. Plus, the only other two films I might consider seeing nominated for BP are Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book. I'm relieved Vice didn't win. 

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
We all know who should have won best picture...

...Into the Spider Verse. ;)

-Evan
Anonymous 7 months ago
I don't think animated can get into Best Picture. That's why they have Best Animated Film.

Posted By THE-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
Chicken Run Apparently almost got nominated for Best Picture. It's why we have Best Animated Feature now.

(Really should rematch Chicken Run soon...)

-Evan
Anonymous 7 months ago
Both Up and Toy Story 3 got Best Picture nominations but ended up losing to the so-so Hurt Locker and the ok but not Best Picture material The King's Speech. Also way back when Beauty and the Beast got a Best Picture nomination as well. I believe it was critics saying how Wall-E should have gotten nominated for Best Picture that led to them creating a Best Animated Feature instead.
Anonymous 7 months ago
It was a good show, even though Roma deserved Best Picture and Bohemian Rhapsody got way too much love. Spike Lee's acceptance speech was the most entertaining part of the night. I hope they stick with the no-host format.

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 7 months ago
Spike Lee does a great Waluigi cosplay! ;)

-Evan
Anonymous 7 months ago
For me Bohemian Rhapsody richly deserved all the wins it got and should have gotten Best Picture too. It not only had incredible music in it, but went deeply into Freddie Mercury's life, and made you care about him more than any other person last year.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Into the Spider Verse won Best Animated Film last night, and that's all that matters.

-Evan