The 2019 Oscars: A Historic Night

Kayva Weaver '20, News Editor

The 91st Academy Awards ceremony, presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was held on February 24, 2019. The night was a memorable one, with many groundbreaking wins and an unorthodox ceremony. One of the biggest controversies surrounding the 2019 Oscars was the absence of a host, breaking from a tradition that has been followed since the beginning of the award show. Comedian Kevin Hart was initially invited to host the ceremony, but when public outrage erupted over the discovery of homophobic tweets that the celebrity wrote between 2009 and 2011, he decided to step down. Although the Academy was unable to find a formal host to facilitate the ceremony, actresses Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, and Amy Poehler served as hilarious unofficial stewards of the event, deftly mocking the Academy for their disorganized planning and sarcastically poking fun at some of the year’s nominees in their monologue. In addition to successfully navigating the ceremony without a traditional host, the Academy was lauded for promoting diversity in terms of gender, race, and background, indicating that the institution has progressed from #OscarsSoWhite. Three of the four acting awards were won by non-white actors (Regina King, Mahershala Ali, and Rami Malek). Several of the filmmakers awarded, like Alfonso Cuarón and Domee Shi, were also pioneers in their categories, showing that Hollywood is finally branching out from its tradition of only recognizing white males. One of the most victorious moments of the night was when African-American director Spike Lee, who has been repeatedly snubbed by the Academy, joyously accepted his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. Additionally, Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler of Black Panther were the first African-American women to win best costume and production design, respectively, signifying a breakthrough within the Academy that was also visible through the record-breaking number of female winners this year. Although many of the awards given promoted a more diverse film industry, one award selection seemed like a step backward. The biggest award of the night, given to the best picture, was awarded to Green Book, a choice that sparked criticism and controversy among the wider film community. The film tells the true story of a world-class black pianist who hires an Italian-American bodyguard to serve as his bodyguard and driver during his concert tour of the deep South. The film has been criticized for simplifying the complicated history of race relations in this country into a narrative that adheres to the “white savior” trope and for inaccurately portraying the true story it is trying to tell. Additionally, the movie is told mostly from the perspective of white people and has been criticized for creating a softer portrayal of racism that what was actually the reality during the era the film takes place. Although the film is well-made and has an exceptional cast, its tone-deaf message and reductive stance on racism signify that the Academy still has a long way to go until it honors films that fulfill the entire purpose of movies: to shed light on complicated, humanist issues and to give a voice to marginalized groups.


Here is a complete list of the winners:

Best Picture: Green Book

Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma

Actor: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Actress: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Original Screenplay: Green Book

Adapted Screenplay: BlacKkKlansman

Foreign Language Film: Roma

Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sound Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody

Visual Effects: First Man

Film Editing: Bohemian Rhapsody

Animated Short: Bao

Live Action Short: Skin

Documentary Short: Period. End of Sentence.

Original Score: Black Panther

Original Song: “Shallow” from A Star is Born

Production Design: Black Panther

Cinematography: Roma

Costume Design: Black Panther

Makeup and Hairstyling: Vice

Documentary Feature: Free Solo

Sound Mixing: Bohemian Rhapsody