Thoughts on the 91st Academy Awards

Last night was the night myself and pretty much every other film lover looks forward to every year, the Academy Awards. We complain about many of the decisions made by the Academy, but there’s no denying is still the most prestigious prize to be given in the art of film. This year, they went the first time in a while without a host… and I kind of hope they go without a host more often, because this was probably the most focused Academy Awards ceremony I’ve ever seen. Politics aside, this was a great ceremony.

The show opened in one of the best ways possible. A performance by Queen! Adam Lambert did the vocals and did a pretty good job, though he is, of course, no Freddie Mercury. We got none of that 10-minute dialogue crap to open the show and I’m willing to bet no one missed it in the slightest. Queen gave a great performance and I can only hope that this will be the new norm. The show went splendidly without a host.

The musical performances were definitely smaller than in previous years. This year wasn’t too big for music in film. My favourite performance was definitely Bette Midler singing The Place Where Lost Things Go from Mary Poppins Returns. It’s a shame it didn’t win the Oscar but it was clearly going to go to Shallow from A Star is Born. The performance of that song, honestly, was very disappointing. I don’t know why but Bradley Cooper sounded awful.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff: the awards themselves. First, the award that I was most happy to see was definitely Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse win Best Animated Film. I don’t know where its Best Film nomination was, but that’s a rant for another day. That was the obvious and best choice to go with. I’m glad the Academy made the right decision.

For Best Animated Short Film, Pixar’s Bao, directed by Toronto-raised Domee Shi, took home the award, and deservingly so. It was a beautiful short. However, this win truly inspired me. To see a fellow Torontonian win the most prestigious award in the film industry was incredibly inspiring to me as an aspiring filmmaker. If she can do it, so can I. It’s possible!

Bohemian Rhapsody got a lot of love this year, winning 4 awards, including Best Actor. Rami Malek deserved that award. Problems with the film aside, he became Freddie Mercury. It was uncanny. I’m glad the Academy recognized that despite the more questionable aspects of the film.

I do have one major gripe with this ceremony, however. And it is bigger than any of the silly politics or internal runnings of the Oscars. This is an actual travesty. During the memorial… Where was Carol Channing? Are you kidding me, Academy? One of the most legendary actresses to grace Broadway and, admittedly to a lesser extent, film. And she wasn’t given an acknowledgment of her passing? The worst part, this isn’t the only time she got screwed over by the Academy. Back in 1967, she was snubbed the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Thoroughly Modern Millie. What does the Academy have against Ms. Channing? I haven’t the slightest idea, but to not give her the memorial she deserves is abhorrent and inexcusable.

The biggest award of the ceremony, Best Film, went to Green Book, which definitely caught me by surprise. It was not winning too many awards that night so it was a rather strange move. I was thinking it would go to Roma or BlackKklansman. The win got some backlash as well given the film’s controversy. I’m not quite sure why it won.

Overall, it was a great ceremony this year. The lack of a host made it a lot more focused, getting rid of all that annoying banter and all those cringey moments. They should go without a host more often! The Best Picture win was a bit disappointing and Carol Channing’s exclusion during the memorial was one of the biggest injustices I’ve seen at the Oscars, but the show was still a step up from previous years. Hopefully, they will continue improving from here.

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