Review: 88th Annual Academy Awards

[NOTE: This article was originally posted on Her Campus Emerson on March 8, 2016.]

If you caught it, last week I wrote a piece previewing this year’s Oscars ceremony. It mostly featured predictions of who would win the most important awards of the evening, including Best Actor, Actress and Picture. While these winners were a huge part of the ceremony, there is a lot to be said about how the entire night went. Here’s a quick look at this year’s Oscars.

The first major thing about the show was how many new things they added to the ceremony. They absolutely changed the entire order of the show, for one. The first award given out has usually been Best Supporting Actor, however this year the Academy wanted the order of the ceremony to reflect the movie-making process, so it began with Best Original Screenplay, since the story always comes first. This was a cute sentiment, but it felt like it should be a one time thing, tying into the theme of the entire show. Plus, it began to lose momentum quickly. Why were Best Supporting Actor and Actress thrown in there so randomly? And obviously they weren’t going to change Best Actor, Actress and Picture. So this little arrangement made sense at the beginning, but then it seemed like they just gave up.

The show also added a feature where, once a winner was announced, a ticker tape on the bottom of the screen listed every individual person the winner wanted to thank. This was the greatest thing I have ever seen and I don’t know why they didn’t think of it sooner. It saved time, because speeches always get long when the winner mentions everyone down to the person who sold them coffee that morning in their speech. It also saved embarrassment for the winner when they inevitably forgot to thank somebody.

Going along the lines of the ticker tape were the IDs which showed on the screen when every presenter was on stage. They were captions that showed the presenter’s name and whatever Oscar nominated or winning film they had been involved in in the past. It was cool, not because we needed to know who the presenters were, but because a lot of people don’t realize that certain actors were in such prestigious films! It became a fun fact portion of the show.

Moving on to the people, it’s impossible to mention the show without talking about how great Chris Rock was as the host. There was a lot of controversy regarding the ceremony and all the white nominees, and Rock had been pressured to boycott the show. He tackled that issue right off the bat in his monologue, stating that even if he hadn’t shown up, the show wouldn’t have been canceled. He used his position on the world’s stage to speak for his cause, rather than hiding away and fuming with anger in the dark. He tackled the issue of diversity and racism in Hollywood, and a lot of his hosting moments were quips against the nominees or making fun of white culture. A lot of critics thought he went too far, and to that I say, nonsense. Why should Chris Rock have stood up there as a black man and said things that would make the mostly white audience comfortable? He had the opportunity to scold Hollywood, and he took it!

Kevin Hart also unexpectedly spoke on behalf of all the black actors and actresses who were snubbed this year, sending the message that even if The Academy didn’t recognize them, they should be proud of themselves and continue to do what they love. This hit home with me more than what Rock said, because Hart is usually seen as the goofy guy, but his sentiment was so pure and beautiful.

Now, I love The Academy and the Oscars, but it didn’t hurt me to see them called out so harshly at the show. They need to improve, and there needs to be more diversity and recognition of people of color. Hopefully we are taking the right steps in that direction.

Finally, let’s get to the winners! In my article last week, I predicted the winners for Best Supporting Actor, Actress, Best Actor, Actress, and Best Picture…and I got all but one of them right! Best Supporting Actor winner Mark Rylance took viewers by surprise. It seemed that Sylvester Stallone would have won, although I would have preferred Mark Ruffalo for his role in Spotlight (although let’s be honest—we all thought he was being called when Patricia Arquette announced Rylance). Other than that, Alicia Vikander won for The Danish Girl, Brie Larson won for Room and Leonardo DiCaprio finally won the Best Actor award for The Revenant! Being the classy guy he is, he ended his speech by bringing to light the issue of climate change in the world, and encouraging a quick change in the way world powers work.

I think the prediction I am proudest of is that Spotlight would win Best Picture. A lot of people, including experts, thought that The Revenant had it in the bag! Alejandro Inarritu even won Best Director, and it’s common for the same film to win the two categories. However, Spotlight proved how powerful a film it truly was.

This year’s Oscars was probably one of the best, especially in recent years. A lot of viewers didn’t like them, claiming that they wanted host Ellen Degeneres back. I completely disagree. Hosts like Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris were fun, but their hosting was based on childish humor and gimmicks. Chris Rock was a refreshing host, and I hope that he leads the path for the next few hosts to follow. It was a great Oscars, and now we all have to sit and wait for February 26, 2017 to get here.

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