When the smoke had cleared and the dust had settled on the 92nd Academy Awards Sunday night, it was Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite dominating the field. Yes, it won Best International Feature. That was expected. What was less expected however, were the other three awards it claimed: Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture.
As Bong went up to accept his screenwriting Oscar, I turned to my wife and said, “This could be a huge night for Parasite.” I didn’t realize that I was making one of the more dramatic understatements in the history of me watching the Oscars, which goes back to when I was a child.
Even though Parasite‘s four wins destroyed my chances of winning the Oscar pool I was in AND possibly ruined my credibility as a prognosticator (I went 18-for-24), I cannot help but be ecstatic for Bong. Because not only was Parasite the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture, but for the first time this century (and maybe longer), the winner of Best Picture wasn’t just the best movie nominated, it was the best film that came out all year.
And we haven’t even gotten to Eminem yet.
No Host? No Problem.
The ceremony started out fun and unpredictable, which kind of set the tone for the entire night. After paying tribute to Fred Rogers, Janelle Monae pulled out and exuberant performance filled with dancers, Midsommar-esque costumes, and a duet of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” with Billy Porter.
What came next showed how AMPAS (The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences) planned on having a ceremony with no host: they chose to, instead, have many, many hosts.
And, for the most part, it worked.
As I spoke on the last Fancy Boys podcast, there is something very freeing in not having one set host because you are not locked in to one person trying to keep a show going with tricks and reoccurring gags and gimmicks. You could streamline the ceremony, which I know sounds insane considering the Oscars were three and half hours, a time period we will now call “An Irishman.”
Leading off as the first non-host hosts were Chris Rock and Steve Martin. If you want jokes at the top of your telecast, these guys are pretty great choices to bring out. Rock and Martin playfully took jabs at the Iowa Caucus, the lack of diversity among the nominees, Jeff Bezos (who was in attendance), and countless others.
Watching these two masters of their craft was a reminder that you can take your shots and playfully stick your middle fingers out at the establishment, but do so with a charm and grace that shows you’re still excited to be part of a wonderful and cherished event. This is the kind of thing that Ricky Gervais just doesn’t understand, and why I found his recent monologue at the Golden Globes a bore.
Everybody Loves Marty (And Is Confused By Marshall)
In my recent Grammys preview, I talked about how the ceremony had a big problem with the absence of Taylor Swift. The ceremony needs someone who just loves not only the art, but the awards show dedicated to celebrating the art.
The Oscars also don’t have Swift. But they did have Martin Scorsese. And that was more than enough.
Besides one slip-up moment (and, believe me, we’ll get to that later), Marty seems to really love the Oscars. The six-time nominee (and one-time winner) is always laughing or smiling or getting teary-eyed watching speeches. Sitting next to his daughter, you couldn’t help but think that this is the night he just loves. And when Bong Joon-ho honored him in his Best Director acceptance speech, you saw Marty look at the Korean auteur and see the celebration of the future in his eyes. The dude is just classy.
Until, that is, he falls asleep watching Eminem.
I don’t know what about watching Eminem performing “Lose Yourself” gave Marty a case of the nappy-naps, but the camera couldn’t have cut to him at a worse time. That being said, I don’t know why Eminem was performing the song to begin with.
In celebrating the songs which are forever linked to the movies they appeared in, Lin-Manuel Miranda cut to a very boring clip package that really did nothing for me. Then out came a full orchestra and band and Slim Shady.
It was weird.
I’ll grant that the Oscars were clearly trying to do something to bring young viewers into the ceremony while, at the same time, trying to push back on the backlash of just being a bunch of old, white dudes too uncool for all the schools. But why bring out a 47-year old white dude to rap “Lose Yourself”, a song which won an Oscar EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO?!?!?
This is where the Academy still shows their disconnect. You saw it last year, when Kendrick Lamar chose not to make the Oscars a priority and not perform his nominated song “All The Stars” at the ceremony. The Oscars just haven’t figured out how to get the youth watching.
But, you can’t please everyone all of the time, so you shouldn’t bother trying. Speaking of that…
Pitt, Phoenix, & Politics
Every year, conservative dickbags complain that the Oscars are too political and claim that the decrease in ratings is attributed to exactly that reason. So, let’s try and break down some of that nonsense?
First off, were the Oscars too political this year?
Were they political at all?
I mean, yeah… if you’re gonna be a dick about it, I guess so. Brad Pitt made one joke about the lack of John Bolton testimony during his acceptance speech and Joaquin Phoenix gave a speech that was against… milk, I guess?
And that was really it. But it was enough to send some GOP jags up in arms. This kind of thing has clearly scared AMPAS and made them want to push hard to make sure that performers are not using the night to pursue their political agenda. And I have a thought when it comes to that:
Who the fuck cares?
None of these douches complaining about the Oscars are even watching. They’re just scanning twitter hoping that someone says something so they can go on a cookie-cutter rant and throw meat at their stupid base. The trick isn’t to avoid this from happening. The trick is to lean into it.
The people watching the Oscars want to know what people think about things. It’s why they’re fucking watching (also, for Elton John). Everyone who got an award should have talked about how terrible Trump is. They were all thinking it. Be true to yourself and more people will watch.
Hero Of The Night
The coolest person at the Oscars was Julia Butters. Here’s why:
I would have done the same thing. Celebrities… they’re just like us!
Were The Oscars Entertaining?
Absolutely they were.
For starters, they were funny. Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph were absolutely incredible.
So were Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Deryfus.
And the musical performances were great. Everyone was having a great time. Especially Diane Keaton, who was clearly stoned out of her fucking gourd. Seriously, whatever D. Keats is having, I want two of those.
And that’s what matters.
The Year The Oscars Got It Right
When it all is said and done, this wasn’t a perfect year for winners because it wasn’t a perfect year for nominees. In my opinion, Lupita Nyong’o gave one of the best performances of the decade in Us and she wasn’t even nominated. I wouldn’t have given the Oscar to Phoenix or Zellweger because I felt like there was much better work being done.
But nothing upset me so much that it caused me to grit my teeth in rage, with the exception of the American Idol commercial where they’re all on the bus singing “Tiny Dancer” because YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT! ARE YOU IN STILLWATER? NO? THEN SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP! DO NOT RUIN THAT SONG OR MOMENT, YOU STUPID DICKS!
I was going to show that commercial here but I. Just. Fucking. Can’t.
Back to my point, really special work got recognized across the board. And it begins and ends with Parasite. A film which sums up the world so perfectly and elegantly. A film which effortlessly crosses genres and forces us to think. A film which took us to places halfway around the world and also inside of our own minds and spirits.
It was the best film of 2019. And it was recognized as such by an organization that usually gets it wrong.
Bong Joon-ho is a gifted and talented artist. And it was nice to see, on movie’s biggest night, that he was honored as such.
Oscar coverage over. See you in 2021.