With a variety of controversies and cock-ups to deal with over the past decade, it seems the organisers of the Academy Awards are working hard to make the show as anodyne as possible.
The lack of a host meant there was no through-thread. No tone. No obvious style or approach. Instead, Hollywood star after Hollywood star appeared on stage with a single goal – read a well-prepared script from an autocue, and don’t f*** it up.
There was the odd occasion when a presenter went off piste – Samuel L. Jackson, for example, who gave a misjudged sports update to his best pal, Spike Lee, much to the bemusement of the rest of the world. It didn’t help that Lee subsequently won the award Jackson was announcing, making it all feel a bit cosy and, well, set up.
On the bright side, the show zipped along at pace. Winners were given enough time to say something meaningful, but when they reeled off lists of names that meant nothing to the billions of people vaguely paying attention, they tended to run out of time. The show’s approach now is to pull the camera out to a big wide shot and kill the microphone, forcing the winner to accept their moment in the literal spotlight is over and waddle off stage.
But there were times when it might have been better to let the show breathe. In Memoriam in particular felt incredibly rushed, with three-second clips accompanying the biggest stars to have died in 2018.
There wasn’t a huge amount for us Brits to be particularly proud of – the occasional technical award featured homegrown talent, but it wasn’t until Olivia Colman took to the stage and somehow managed to weep like Sally Field while still retaining her English charm. By far the best and most memorable speech of the night belonged to her, even if Emma Stone did her best to get involved in the moment.
But if there was one disappointment, it was the fall of Rami Malek. Literally. for the best actor winner tumbled from the stage and required a medical check-up as a result. It’s not so much disappointing that he fell, more that the director didn’t show it.
And with no host to deliver a monologue or any other brilliantly conceived one-liners, it was down to the winners and the odd presenter to come up with dialogue to remember on Oscar night…
“Good evening and welcome to the one millionth Academy Awards. We are not your hosts, but we are going to stand here a little bit too long so that the people who get USA Today tomorrow think that we are.” – Tina Fey
“Just a quick update in case you’re confused – there is no host tonight, there won’t be a popular movie category… and Mexico is not paying for the wall.” – Maya Rudolph
“We won’t be doing awards during the commercials but we will be presenting commercials during the awards. So if all the winners could say ‘Hellman’s mayonnaise, we’re on the side of food,’ instead of your speeches, that would be great.” – Amy Poehler
“Bradley… there is not a single person on this planet who could have sang this song with me but you.” – Lady Gaga – Best Original Song – A Star Is Born
“I am the son of immigrants from Egypt, I’m a first generation American and part of my story is being written right now, and I could not be more grateful to each and every one of you, and everyone who believed in me. It’s something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.” – Rami Malek – Best Actor – Bohemian Rhapsody
“Oooh it’s genuinely quite stressful… haha.. this is hilarious.. I’ve got an Oscar! If I forget anybody I am going to find you later and give you a massive snog! Glenn Close you are my idol and this isn’t how I wanted it to be!” – Olivia Colman – Best Actress – The Favourite
“Mom, I love you so much. Thank you for teaching me that God is always leaning and always has been leaning in my direction.” – Regina King – Best Supporting Actress – If Beale Street Could Talk
“This has been a long time coming… Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design we turned him into an African king.” Ruth Carter – Best Costume Design – Black Panther
“When we hear that somebody or somebody’s kid was watching the movie and turned to them and said ‘somebody looks like me or they speak Spanish like us’ we feel like we already won.” – Phil Lord – Best Animated Feature Film – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
“Bohemian Rhapsody played a large part in the success of Wayne’s World. We’re humbled to be associated with that song. Hahahaha” – Mike Myers
“Thank you to Pete Docter for believing in my weirdness!” – Domee Shi – Best Animated Feature – Bao
“I’m not crying because I am on my period or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar.” Melissa Berton – Best Documentary Short – Period. End of Sentence.
“Do not turn that motherf**ker clock on…. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilise. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing!” – Spike Lee – Best Adapted Screenplay – BLACKkKLANSMAN