Quick Thoughts on the 2019 Oscars Show

The Oscars have come and gone, and the show was not that bad. Not having a host may or may not be the best idea for future shows, but it worked just fine this year. If anyone can pass the test of politically correct squeaky cleanness in the future, perhaps they can venture into the mouth of the beast and try to be a future host. At this point, I don’t blame anyone for not trying or refusing if offered.

The 90-second rule (the guests apparently had 90 seconds from the announcing of the name to the end of their speech) was broken all too much, but it seemed to be a good idea nonetheless. Here are some unsolicited recommendations:

  • Keep up the good work turning mics off after 90 seconds (with some sensitivity to those obviously finishing up).
  • Future winners—learn from last night. It’s possible to get up on the stage and give a gracious, meaningful speech 90 seconds.
  • Have one person be the spokesperson for the group. Interest in what is being said immediately plummets when a second person joins in, unless it’s just two and the first person keeps it very short. If it’s more than two, it gets ridiculous. I agree that the speech for Vice’s hairstyling and make-up might well have been the worst acceptance speech of all time. Every nominee for 2020’s ceremony that is part of a group of winners should view that right before the show next year.
  • There should be no phones and no pieces of paper whipped out with the names of everyone you want to thank. It’s an award for one movie—not a lifetime achievement award. If you can’t name those you want to thank by memory, we don’t care.
  • I agree with the New York Times Carpetbagger that it’s time to take the short film awards out of the main telecast. It was a dumb idea to take the cinematography, film editing and makeup and hairstyling awards out of the main telecast, and thankfully, wiser heads prevailed. They belong in the main show. But the live-action short—yes, during a commercial or in an earlier ceremony, along with the other awards for short films.

OK, the awards themselves. There were two shockers—Olivia Coleman for The Favourite, and the Best Picture Winner—Green Book. I’ll simply say that I’m sorry that Glenn Close didn’t win and that she retains her position as the most nominated living performer who hasn’t won an Oscar. As far as the Best Picture is concerned, sociological arguments will be raging over the next few days about the film and its “controversies.” I’ll leave that to others. I just didn’t expect it, that’s all. I was hoping that with the weighted voting system, A Star is Born would somehow sneak into being the winner. Not that Roma wasn’t the best film—it was—but it was certainly rewarded aplenty last night. It’s been strange watching A Star is Born sink so much after such a deservedly warm greeting when it opened.

It was heartening to see Black Panther win for Costume and for Production Design. Deserved, and a blessed change from historical dramas winning that category so often.

It was slightly disappointing but not surprising to have Rami Malek win for Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a solid, showy performance, and the technical aspects of playing Queen’s frontman were solid. But I didn’t think that he quite nailed the other scenes. I was hoping that Bradley Cooper’s deep and subtle performance might win the day, but I usually get disappointed in at one or more acting categories.

Roma’s cinematography well deserved to win, and this in a year of some great work. But this gloriously shot black-and-white film deserved the love it received here.

The Academy still can’t decide on how to present the five nominated songs. They had them shortened for the most part, which helped. But they still don’t seem to know how to handle the option of a medley. “Shallow,” which everyone knew would be the winner, was so well done (singing, playing, filming) that it made the case for doing an entire song. But “I’ll Fight” was pretty bad. It was not Jennifer Hudson’s best moment by any means, and the staging and costuming of it dominated the presentation, and the melisma-drenched vocal performance distracted from the song itself. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” was similarly lost via performance by a megastar (Bette Midler) who is clearly losing vocal strength, and whose strong presence completely overwhelmed the lovely little song. Again, not a good choice. Dear Academy, there are several better options for this problem. Give me a call—we’ll talk.

Bottom line: The host issue shows more about where Hollywood and society is at at the moment. What about James Corden? Or does he have a skeleton in his closet, too? Or is he just too smart to want to jump into that mess? The tightening up of the show is a good start. Let’s cut out the short film awards, or do them during commercials and do a quick recap when the show comes back. Let’s squeeze the winners just a little tighter in terms of their acceptance speeches; maybe the limit of one to two speakers should be enforced. Someone needs to figure out how to do a medley, or how to feature the song that might have taken off and entered the zeitgeist. There are ways. Whatever you’re doing, producers, to reduce the politics of the show was an excellent idea. When politics is part and parcel of a film, OK. When it’s not, keep politics out and just celebrate the art.

Not that I have any thoughts about this….

About Mark DuPré

Retired (associate) pastor at a Christian church. Retired film professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Husband for 48+ years to the lovely and talented Diane. Father to three children and father-in-law to three more amazing people. I continue some ministry duties even though retired from the pastoral position. Right now I'm co-writing a book, working on a documentary (screenwriter and assistant director), and creating a serious musical drama (I am writing the book and lyrics).
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