The 2020 Academy Awards were on Sunday, they were filled with heart-felt, theatrical and sometimes cringy moments. The Academy decided for the second year in a row to forgo a traditional host, so the show opened up with a performance by Janelle Monáe. She began with a play on the film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” as she sang the tune of Mr. Rogers directly to Tom Hanks, who played him in the film. She then transitioned to a rambunctious musical number about “coming alive,” backed by dancers dressed as characters from nominated movies. Following that performance, comedy legends Chris Rock and Steve Martin took the stage in what seemed to be a very host-like comedic opening monologue. Martin made it clear that they were not the hosts of show by calling the job “an incredible demotion,” as both men have hosted in years past. The two made passes at the Academy’s lack of diversity for acting nominations, which has always been a leading controversary surrounding the event. The other controversy was the snubbing of female directors, which was also put into the limelight by many celebrities of the evening.
Each song nominated for Best Original Song in a Movie or Screenplay got its moment to shine. Some of the notable performances included Idina Menzel and Elton John, singing songs from their movies “Frozen” and “Rocket Man.” The most impactful song of the night was sung by Cynthia Erivo, who gave a powerful rendition of the song “Stand Up” from the movie “Harriet.” Her breathtaking vocals backed up a strong message about African American history, and the moment was sealed with a giant image of Harriet Tubman lit up on the screen behind Erivo at the song’s conclusion. The rapper Eminem also performed, singing his Oscar winning song “Lose Yourself” after a video montage of iconic music and movie duos.
The show was taken for two more comedic spins when actresses Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph came out to present and showed off their acting skills in order to impress the directors in the audience. Other memorable presenters were Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Cinematography and Film-Editing, along with Rebel Wilson and James Corden in their costumes from the movie “Cats.” The latter duo pawed at the microphone as the world wondered why they wanted to resurrect the flopped production at the most prestigious film event of the year, even for joking matters.
One of the big awards of the night was presented to Laura Dern for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Marriage Story.” Also, the world was once again given a moment of bromance between Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, as Pitt delivered his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood.” As he was giving thanks, he gestured to his co-star, “Leo, I would ride on your coattails anytime.” Nineties lovers across the nation swooned.
Joaquin Phoenix took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his interpretation of the Joker in this year’s film, and Renee Zellweger won Best Actress for “Judy.” Her acceptance speech was particularly well-spoken, relating Judy Garland to all the heroes of humanity.
“Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Dolores Huerta, Venus and Serena and Selena, Bob Dylan, Scorsese, Fred Rogers and Harriet Tubman,” Zellweger said. “We agree on our teachers, and we agree on our courageous men and women in uniform who serve. We agree on our first responders and firefighters. When we celebrate our heroes, we’re reminded of who we are as one people united.”
The film “Parasite” was by far the biggest winner of the night, racking up four awards, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture. This Oscars marked the first time that an international film won Best Picture.