Chris Rock, host of the 88th Academy Awards, or better known as the Oscars, started the awards with the statements, “Well, I’m here at the Academy Awards. Otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” followed by immediate laughter from the predominantly white crowd.
If you have no idea why he would start out a prestigious award show with such a statement, you must not be aware of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has been trending since the nominees were announced in January. Racism is a problem in Hollywood, and has been since the beginning of moviemaking. Rock made it very clear that this was going to be the main theme of his opening monologue and the rest of his jokes throughout the night, as it deserved to be. There was even a brief appearance from the Academy’s president, who is a woman of color, to address that this issue is not to be taken lightly and is being worked on for the future.
I favor the Oscars over many other award shows because the purpose of the show, which is to give awards for achievement in the industry, is the main focus. Something the Oscars did differently this year was having all the nominees submit their “thank you” pre-show and they would be displayed on the bottom of the screen as the winner accepted their award. This was cool in the sense that tiny bios of the presenters were displayed, such as if they have ever won an Academy Award. But the “thank you” ticker didn’t help with the acceptance speeches at all. The winners still went through and thanked all the people who made and starred in the films. The ticker also showed the names at warp speed. Some speeches went over the 45-second time limit and were mixed with the beautiful sounds of the orchestra, but those winners didn’t seem to care.
Some of the highlights from the show included: Rock’s outstanding hosting gig, in which he also covered Black Lives Matter and gender inequality, Alicia Vikander winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in “The Danish Girl” and looking just like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” and Joe Biden making an appearance to introduce Lady Gaga and her powerful song, “Til It Happens To You,” where she was joined by sexual assault victims. Biden’s appearance and Gaga’s performance were the first standing ovations of the night. Most of the crowd was in tears when she finished and the victims held hands with sayings on their arms such as, “unbroken” and “not your fault.”
Sam Smith was the winner for Best Original Song with, “Writing’s On The Wall (from Spectre),” from the James Bond film that came out last year. He immediately received backlash for winning against Gaga and accepting the Oscar as the first openly gay man, which he was not. “Mad Max: Fury Road” won six Oscars, the most of the night. I was shocked because I personally would never want to see this film. Another surprise of the night came from the Best Supporting Actor category. Newspapers and blogs were sure that Sylvester Stallone, who reprised his role as Rocky Balboa in “Creed,” was going to take home the gold statue.
One of my favorite parts of the entire show was the music. Not only did Sam Smith and Lady Gaga perform their nominated songs, but so did The Weeknd. Many don’t realize that “Earned It” was actually made for Fifty Shades of Grey. Dave Grohl did one of the most beautiful renditions of “Blackbird” I have ever heard during the “In Memoriam” segment. Also, the live orchestra that sat underneath the stage played songs from various film scores throughout the night
The best parts of the night included winners of the four major categories, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Picture. Alejandro González Iñárritu won Best Director for “The Revenant” and took the platform to speak about immigration and corruption in Mexico, even as the music played to cut him off. Best Actress went to Brie Larson for “Room.” To almost everyone’s surprise, except mine, because I guessed correctly on my Oscar’s ballot, Best Picture went to the gritty and real movie, “Spotlight.” The film is based on the true accounts of ‘The Boston Globe’s’ efforts in investigative journalism regarding child sex abuse in the area by Roman Catholic priests. Such a powerful film deserved to win the largest title of the night because of its awareness of a serious crime.
The most exciting and long-awaited moment of the night came right before the Best Picture announcement. Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home an Oscar. The actor has been nominated a total of six times. We have all seen the hilarious memes created because of his inability to win. It has been 23 years since his first nomination for Best Supporting Actor in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” It’s only fitting that he won for a role that he has stated he would never want to experience again, because of its hardness to film. He took his time on stage to thank the people who have supported him, specifically his parents, but also discuss the importance and severity of climate change, something Dicaprio has been an advocate of for many years. The images of Leo and Kate Winslet together on the red carpet and after his big win brought us all the feels of Jack and Rose all over again.