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The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, are facing an identity crisis. It seems like no matter what they try to do, to convince their 6,000 members to be more politically correct, it seems like someone manages to royally mess it up. And Twitter erupts.
And this year seemed no different. From Martin Scorcese taking a nap during a musical performance to not enough female representation, everyone found something to complain about, which says more about our Internet’s tendency to award repugnance with likes, retweets and shares, than it does about the Oscars themselves.
Clearly the responsibility of judging the Oscars falls to critics and writers with a slightly elevated platform. Even if they are overwhelmingly underqualified to do so.
Jokes aside, let’s start with the obvious – Parasite. It was a pure delight watching director, producer and writer Bong Joon Ho (whose name I learned through sheer repetition during the Oscars) take home four Oscars. Not only was this the first South Korean film nominated for Best International Feature Film and Bong the first South Korean director to be nominated for Best Director, it was the first non-English movie ever to win Best Picture and the first Asian movie to win Best Original Screenplay.
Some of the other highlights included Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech, which sounded like it was really his Joker-alter ego Arthur Fleck trying to play the role of Joaquin Phoenix on stage. His monologue (I refuse to call it a speech) occasionally wandered back into the sentimental with his reference to his brother’s lyrics, but for the most part, it sounded like he was just reiterating the PETA web page about veganism he was reading when his name was called.
And while we are on the subject of “out of the blue,” Eminem arrived at the Oscars fashionably late – 18 years late to be precise. Personally, I loved every moment of his performance. Not only do I love Lose Yourself and its movie 8 Mile, Eminem represents our teenage angst to most of my generation. I still enjoyed Billie Eilish’s bewildered response and Martin napping during his performance.
And last but definitely not the least, my favourite part of the Oscars is the shorts. And like in years past, I disagreed with the winners this year.
While Best Animated Short Film winner Hair Love was adorable, I particularly enjoyed watching Kitbull in which a black cat befriends a pit bull, each the most reviled amongst their respective species. And watching it again last weekend seemed evermore prescient, considering the recent petition to ban pit bull breeding in Bahrain.
While The Neighbors’ Window, winner of Best Live Action Short Film was wonderful and touching, I found myself on the verge of tears watching Brotherhood, which tells the story of a boy returning to his parents and brothers after having left to join Daesh only to be disillusioned by it.
And if you have some time, I do suggest watching the winning Documentary Short Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If you’re a Girl) which tells the story of ‘Skateistan’ – a not-for-profit educational initiative that has been empowering marginalised children in Afghanistan, especially girls, by teaching them to skateboard.
All in all, this year’s Oscars weren’t as cringe-worthy as some of the past ones, even if the lack of a host got tiresome. I mean, you had people introducing people who would then introduce a duo who would go through an SNL sketch before perhaps unveiling the winner. Ridiculous. Just like Rebel Wilson and James Corden showing up in cat costumes.
Rest of the best
Actress: Renée Zellweger, Judy
Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Director: Bong Joon Ho, Parasite
Supporting Actress: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Animated Feature: Toy Story 4
Animated Short: Hair Love
Original Screenplay: Parasite
Adapted Screenplay: Jojo Rabbit
Live Action Short: The Neighbours’ Window
Production Design: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Costume Design: Little Women
Documentary Feature: American Factory
Documentary Short: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If you’re a Girl)
Sound Editing: Ford v Ferrari
Sound Mixing: 1917
Film Editing: Ford v Ferrari
Visual Effects: 1917
Makeup and Hairstyling: Bombshell
International Feature Film: Parasite
Original Score: Joker
Original Song: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”, Rocketman