Oscar Sunday has come and gone. While some winners were the frontrunners since the moment of their film’s release, the evening nonetheless packed a few very welcome surprises!
Josh Gad Burning John Travolta
Josh Gad made the most of his few moments at the Oscars, talking about the sheer number of times that “Frozen” has been dubbed into other languages means that now he has “44 blood rivals around the world.” But his best soundbite was definitely a pointed dig at John Travolta as he introduced Idina Menzel with, “the iconic and brilliant Idina Menzel, pronounced exactly as it is spelled, is our Elsa.” Get him, Josh!
Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton Reunited
Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton presenting an award together. Hmm, what a strange pairing, you might think. Luckily, Reeves and Keaton awkwardly took the time in their intro to remind us of the time they were cast as one half of a romantic rectangle in “Something’s Gotta Give” alongside Jack Nicholson of all people. The Oscars should troll actors by pairing them up with their truly perplexing former co-stars more often.
Janelle Monae’s Intro Song
You never know quite how meandering an awards show is going to be without a host to skillfully (or not so skillfully) guide it along. But Janelle Monae’s song to kickstart the Oscars telecast was confident and flashy, even if it did rely on the ever-dreaded “front row of the Oscars audience participation” bit. Maybe she should have just hosted the entire thing?
Al Pacino Enchanted By Cat Impressions
James Corden and Rebel Wilson were chosen as the presenters for the Best Visual Effects award, so naturally they appeared onstage in full “Cats” regalia. At a certain point, they became transfixed by the microphone and began taking swipes at it, as cats are wont to do. It’s a cute bit, but the cherry on top is a quick cut to an Al Pacino who is thoroughly delighted by their antics.
Hair Love’s Win
In a night that was big on quipping about the Oscars’ whiteness but low on actual diversity, “Hair Love” winning for best animated short was a genuinely nice moment. Its win was not just a triumph for black creators, but also a celebration of a film about black experiences, with producer Karen Rupert Tolliver stating, “representation matters deeply, and especially in cartoons, which are often when we first see our movies.”
Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig’s Acting Bit
“Saturday Night Live” comedians have a long history of turning up as awards presenters at the Oscars to break up some of the monotony of under-prepared Hollywood stars squinting at teleprompters. But sometimes, their brief moments on stage can be parlayed into more prestigious work. Enter Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig, who use their presentation of the Production Design and Costume Design awards as an opportunity to showcase their acting skills because, as they point out, “there are a lot of directors here tonight.”
Laura Dern’s Mom Crying
Laura Dern has been an Oscar frontrunner for at least six months, so it wasn’t a surprise that she would win her first Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in “Marriage Story.” It also wasn’t a surprise that she would deliver a thoroughly charming speech. But you would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by her closing tribute to her parents as “her heroes” and the camera’s quick cut to a beaming and teary-eyed Diane Ladd watching her daughter win an Oscar.
Cynthia Erivo’s Performance
In a night when there were altogether too many musical numbers (seriously, Eminem?), double nominee Cynthia Erivo’s performance of her Oscar-nominated song “Stand Up” from “Harriet” was show-stopping, proving once again just what a pure talent she is.
Spontaneous Scorsese Standing Ovation
No, Marty didn’t win Best Director for “The Irishman” (in fact, the famed actor has only won Best Director once in his career, for “The Departed” in 2007). But he got something arguably better than that, when Bong Joon Ho took the stage to accept his award and spoke admiringly of the director, prompting a spontaneous and prolonged standing ovation for the Hollywood stalwart.
For the entire history of the Oscars, a foreign language film has never managed to take home the top prize. It seemed, somehow, that subtitles were an insurmountable barrier to a film getting the kind of widespread popular acclaim that it would require to win Best Picture. Until now, that is. To thunderous applause, Bong Joon Ho and the rest of the “Parasite” crew were named the winners of the award, hopefully signaling a new era in film that has a more global perspective.