Green Book’s controversial Best Picture win
Green Book, a feelgood comedy drama starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, and directed by Peter Farrelly, was named Best Picture in a surprise victory over strong contenders such as Roma, A Star is Born, and Bohemian Rhaopsody. The former, based on a real-life road trip of a working class Italian-American bouncer who is employed as the driver of an African American classical pianist on tours in the South during the 1960s, were dogged by controversies even before awards season started.
The film was met with a surge of criticism after a tweet from 2015 by co-writer and producer Nick Vallenloga to then-candidate Donald Trump resurfaced. The tweet contained a false, Islamophobic claim that Vallenlonga had seen “Muslims in Jersey City cheering” when the World Trade Centre towers collapsed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The Oscar win did not sit well with most people, who disparaged it for having a few racial clichés, including a scene in which Tony convinces Shirley to try fried chicken. To make matters worse, Mortensen used the N-word during a post-screen discussion in November when he tried to compare the time period in which the film was set with current times.
Nevertheless, Mahershala Ali was universally praised by awards pundits for his portrayal of jazz pianist Dr Donald Shirley, which led to his second Best Supporting Actor victory in three years, after his last win for 2016’s Best Picture winner, Moonlight.
If Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma had won Best Picture, it would have made history in many ways than one. The film, which tells the story of a domestic worker in a middle-class household in 1970s Mexico City, would be the first win for a streaming service – Netflix – as it distrupts traditional cinema business. Secondly, it would highlight the plight of women in the shadows who are constantly subjected to the condescension of class and race. Cuarón didn’t go home empty-handed, nonetheless. He bagged the Best Director prize, while Roma scooped the Best Foreign Language Film accolade.
Spike Lee storms out of Oscars after Best Picture was announced
Director Spike Lee – who finally won his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlackKklansman – was visibly upset that Green Book had won, and left the ceremony before the speeches even concluded. The backlash appears to be attributed to the controversy surrounding the film, which had been criticised for perpetuating a white saviour narrative.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s emotional performance
The duo’s rendition of Shallow from their film A Star Is Born was intimate and steeped in chemistry. They sang passionately, cheek-to-cheek, with Cooper’s hand around Gaga’s waist. And Twitter just couldn’t handle it.
Not to mention, Lady Gaga also won an Oscar for Best Original Song for it, and she gave an emotional speech to mark the moment. "I've worked hard for a long time, and it's not about, you know...it's not about winning. But what it's about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There's a discipline for passion. And it's not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you're beaten up. It's about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going. Thank you!"
Rami Malek clinches Best Actor gong
Malek’s triumph was no easy feat, having defeated a tough field that includes Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice and Bradley Cooper as musician Jack Maine in A Star is Born. But was anyone surprised after the Freddie Mercury actor picked up a slew of awards from the BAFTAS, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes? It was a “feat of impersonation”, as Guardian’s Steve Rose put it.
Billy Porter slays in Christian Siriano’s tuxedo-gown
It’s the Oscars, and outfits will be the talk of the town. However, Porter’s voluminous ball skirt, embellished with silk lapels, white ruffled sleeves and a black bow tie, was an instant conversation starter. It turns out that the Siriano-designed masterpiece held an important meaning for the singer-actor:
“I wanted to create a space where we can have a dialogue about the masculine and the feminine and everything in between… A woman shows up in pants, and no one bats and eye,” Porter continued. He add that women wearing pants is praised as “powerful” and “masculine,” while “a man in a dress is ‘ehh.’ What is that?”