This year’s Oscars may not have been all smooth sailing (referring to the Vice hair and makeup team’s awkward acceptance speech here!) but they turned out to be pretty memorable anyway.
The 2019 Academy Awards were considered by many fans to be the best show in years — and that may have to do with all the changes the Academy made for this year’s show. From the winners to presenters to the awards themselves, this year’s ceremony proved to be a step in the direction the world has been gesturing toward all along.
The Academy made headlines late last year after announcing the live show would go hostless for the first time since 1989. Despite initial backlash, fans seemed to enjoy the sans-host ceremony. It became apparent once Queen and Adam Lambert took the stage (paying homage to Best Picture nominee Bohemian Rhapsody), that maybe a little rock and roll is all the show’s needed all these years to excite at-home viewers.
The medley of hits and a montage of clips from films released in the past year filled the time that would normally be reserved for a host’s opening monologue.
Beyond nixing a host, the Academy also went the extra mile to change up who and what appeared on the Oscars stage. For the first time, the Academy seemed to emphasize the importance of non-Hollywood personalities. Notable presenters at the 2019 ceremony included tennis superstar Serena Williams, U.S. Representative John Lewis, and Spanish-American chef and restaurateur Jose Andres. During their presentations, the latter two spoke out against racism and anti-immigration laws, respectively.
Though public figures touching on politics during award ceremonies is nothing new, something the Oscars stage typically doesn’t see is a best supporting actress win for a film that isn’t a Best Picture nominee — but that’s exactly what Regina King did. The beloved actress took home the award for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. Continuing the theme of firsts, this was also King’s first-ever nomination and win.
Proving to be moving far away from the #OscarsSoWhite controversies of 2015 and 2016, one of the Academy’s biggest and most important changes this year was awarding several top honors to non-white actors and directors. In addition to King, Rami Malek won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Spike Lee took home the Best Adapted Screenplay honor for his work on BlacKkKlansman, and Mahershala Ali was named Best Supporting Actor for his role in Green Book, which also won in the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay categories.
Considering the Oscars raked in nearly 30 million viewers according to Variety (up 12% from last year), it may be safe to say the biggest award show in film is back in action — or at least on it’s way.