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The 91st Oscars Feature Upsets and Controversy

By Mason Masotta
On March 1, 2019


Another year has brought another Oscar season to a close. With hosting controversy, commercial outrage, and frustration over the Best Picture winner, there is plenty to dive into.

The show opened with the band Queen, featuring the lyrical talents of Adam Lambert in place of Freddie Mercury, performing in recognition of the film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which had been nominated for five awards (four of which it went on to win). As the show progressed, the ever-looming question of the Best Picture winner became less and less clear.

To start, a great amount of attention should be brought the success of “Roma,” which won three Oscars the night of the awards. “Roma” brought two original aspects to the Oscars long and storied history. Firstly, it is the only Netflix original to ever be nominated for one, let alone three, Academy Awards. Second, it is the first Mexican film to win in the Best Foreign Language category.

Clinching the Best Picture spot, however, was “Green Book” starring Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali. The film takes a look at race relations in the 1960’s as well as how class warfare divides oppressed minorities against each other. Ali also went on to claim the Best Supporting Actor award earlier in the night.

Now, any Oscar worth discussing has its fair share of controversies, and the 91st Oscar is no different in that regard. Two months ago, on December 4th, it was originally announced that Kevin Hart would be the host of the event, only to withdraw from his position two days later, after controversial Tweets resurfaced to the public’s attention. Weeks of discussion commenced over who would replace him, only to reveal on January 9th that no single host would be named to replace him. Instead, the night would see a revolving cast of actors, comedians, and musicians take the start to present awards and provide entertainment to Hollywood’s most elite stars.

With this background in mind, not everyone was pleased with how the event would progress, nor with the eventual win of “Green Book.” Most angry, it seems, was Director Spike Lee who, reportedly, tried to walk out of the event in frustration. He was quoted comparing his loss to an upset in a close game: “I thought I was courtside at the Garden and the refs made a bad call.” Many have been confused with Lee’s comments since “BlacKkKlansmen” had gone into the Best Picture category as a long shot from the start. The “Do the Right Thing” director did not go home empty handed, winning the gold for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Finally, it should be recognized that Marvel’s Black Panther had a tremendous showing, winning three awards, respectively, in Original Music Score, Costume Design, and Production Design. It also made history by being the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture. I had written a year ago about the need for more mainstream movies to be included in Oscar discussion and was pleased to see a powerful cultural piece like “Black Panther” receive the acclaim it deserves. After all, films are made for audiences to enjoy, and it is my belief that not including such high grossing box office successes in award consideration neglects the opinion of the masses. I look forward to seeing how the precedent set by Black Panther influences award shows in the future.        

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