It was all going so well. The 91st Academy Awards concluded one of its smoothest ceremonies in recent years. Oscars were awarded to a diverse ensemble of actors and filmmakers.
Then it came time to announce Best Picture.
“Green Book” was announced winner — Spike Lee’s visibly angry reaction spoke for most of the world. I couldn’t make it through the acceptance speech. Couldn’t this have been the year cards were mistakenly handed out?
Of the eight films nominated for this year’s Oscars, “Green Book” drummed up the most controversies and was arguably the least artistic. Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white epic “Roma” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ moody period piece “The Favourite” were the likely contenders for Best Picture, each garnering 10 nominations. “Green Book,” having won Mahershala Ali a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in a supporting role, stood a chance, but ultimately came out of left field and took many by shock.
“Green Book,” from director Peter Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary”), tells the story of renowned African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) journeying with Italian-American chauffeur Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) into the Deep South to perform with his trio.
Tony got this driving job in a time of desperation, and he and Dr. Shirley — what some might call an unlikely duo — became friends.
In the first few minutes of the film, taking place in the 1960s, Tony is depicted as someone not too fond of African-Americans, as he’s seen throwing out glasses used by two colored men visiting his home. During the Jim Crow era in the south, Dr. Shirley wasn’t the most welcomed guest in states such as Alabama and Louisiana. He wasn’t worried though; he had his trusted companion to save him in times of trouble.
Ali, with his calm demeanor, talented piano playing and impeccable wardrobe, and Mortensen, in all his charm and 26-hot-dog-eating abilities, gave incredible performances. Mortensen’s finest moment can be boiled down to his hungry appetite — in one scene, he folded an entire round pizza in half and went at it as if it were an average-sized sandwich.
It was all too effortless for the times. Every instance Dr. Shirley found himself in a compromising situation — being beat up in a bar by racist drunks or refusing to perform if he wasn’t seated with all restaurant guests — Tony was feet away to solve the problem.
“Green Book” was too feel-good for the content covered. Ali won Best Supporting Actor for his performance — a well-deserved win — but it questions the film’s garnered praise. Why is the film praised for its depiction of racial relations but is centered around a white middle-class working man?
All other seven nominated films deserved Best Picture.
“A Star Is Born,” Bradley Cooper’s latest rendition of the film, is iconic and Cooper is a snack. Scratch that, he’s a whole meal.
“BlacKkKlansman,” a film telling the true story of an American hero, is carried by strong performances from John David Washington and Adam Driver.
“Black Panther” is one of the most progressive films, and, along with its outstanding, Grammy-nominated album, transcended many boundaries on its journey to the Oscars.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is an electric biopic of one of the best rock bands to ever grace this green planet, with a supreme human at the helm.
“The Favourite” is an intricately depicted, true tale of the story of Great Britain’s Queen Anne and the lesser-known lesbian storyline that went along with it.
“Roma” is the beautifully shot epic, black-and-white film telling the director’s tale of Mexico City and the indigenous nanny of his childhood.
“Vice,” in all its satire, tells the somewhat unsettling story of Dick Cheney, portrayed by Christian Bale who looked nothing like Christian Bale.
“Green Book,” while a film worthy of most of the awards it won, was the choice least suitable for the film industry’s most prestigious award.
The ceremony, notoriously known for being one of the longest broadcasts, was shortened to slightly more three hours long, rather than four-plus hours. The first three hours of the ceremony were like taking a blissful stroll through green pastures and fresh air.
The Oscars went hostless for the first time in 30 years and was one of the tamest, most enjoyable ones. It wouldn’t be the worst decision for the ceremony to remain hostless from now-on.
Politically charged jokes and speeches were kept at a minimum. Award categories flowed gracefully from one to the next, with performances from original song nominees — all except Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” — and introductions to best picture nominees interjected through award announcements.
Lee won his first Oscar for directing “BlacKkKlansman.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” won four of its five nominations, including Rami Malek’s win for Best Actor. Olivia Colman won Best Actress for her brilliant performance in “The Favourite.”
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper gave a beautifully intimate performance of “Shallow,” for which Lady Gaga later won her first Oscar for Best Original Song. The pair emerged on-stage holding hands and went on to give a highlight-of-the-night performance.
Halfway through their duet, Cooper made his way to sit next to Gaga singing and playing the piano, put his arm around her and induced tears in many fans watching the ceremony from the comfort of their couches. As “Shallow” came to an end, the pair were inches away from each other as if they were about to kiss. The internet went crazy, and memes spread like wildfire.
The only thing that would’ve made this ceremony better — besides “Green Book” losing — would’ve been an appearance from the love of my life, Timothée Chalamet, dressed in a sharp suit and dazzling harness.