With all the controversy surrounding diversity in Hollywood, this year’s Academy Awards were poised to be a platform where the stars could speak out. On Hollywood’s biggest night, almost everything about the show shined. This was the best Academy Awards in years, and the proper winners were finally crowned. The big issues were dealt with appropriately and handled well by host Chris Rock, who opened the show with a hilarious monologue about diversity.
Rock had a lot of pressure on him as the host of the non-diversified Oscars. He mentioned the controversy right off the bat by welcoming the attendees to the “white people’s choice awards.” He addressed the fact that Hollywood is racist, but said that things are starting to change. He was able to use the platform for good instead of bashing the Academy like some feared.
The only person Rock really ripped was Jada Pinkett Smith for boycotting the Oscars, even though she was not invited. Rock’s major point of his speech was that he wants to see opportunities for people of color in Hollywood, which was the perfect statement.
Rock also had quite a few funny moments during the show, as he showed several sketches to poke fun at the diversity issue. There was a sketch of the best picture nominees superimposed with black actors, which was the funniest moment of the night. Angela Bassett introduced a Black History Month Minute segment to honor Jack Black.
Rock went to a movie theater in Compton and asked civilians what they thought of the best picture nominees. Most people had not heard of any of the nominees.
That was all fun and games until Rock crossed the line with a joke about Asians and children making cellphones. It was disappointing that Rock only focused on the snub of black actors instead of minority actors as a whole.
The biggest part of the night was obviously the awards. This year, “Mad Max: Fury Road” took home the most awards with six statues, followed by “The Revenant” with three. The top honor went to “Spotlight” for Best Picture. The acting categories rounded out nicely, with the Best Actor statues going to Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant” and Brie Larson for “Room.”
Twenty-two years after his first nomination, DiCaprio finally took home Oscar gold, much to the relief of Hollywood, the press and viewers everywhere, including myself. DiCaprio stole the show with his win and by giving a speech on climate change.
The Best Supporting Actor statues went to Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies,” and Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl.”
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu won his second straight Best Director statue for his work on “The Revenant” and gave a great speech about inclusion in Hollywood.
The major snub of the night was zero awards for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Somehow, “Star Wars” lost the visual effects category to “Ex Machina,” lost both sound categories to “Mad Max” and lost the best original score category, which it should not have even been nominated for. The other snub was “The Martian” not receiving any awards. Being one of the best films of the year, “The Martian” deserved to go home with something.
A few other highlights of the show included some popular film stars making appearances. From “Star Wars,” C3PO, R2D2 and BB8 came out on stage, making the Internet go crazy.
In honor of “Toy Story”‘s 20th anniversary, Woody and Buzz Lightyear announced “Inside Out” as the Best Animated Feature.
Even the Minions made a funny cameo to round out our favorite fictional characters’ appearances.
Rock was also able to sell $65,243 in Girl Scout cookies to the audience in a move that one-upped Ellen DeGeneres buying pizza for the audience in 2014.
One other notable moment was Lady Gaga’s inspiring performance of her nominated song “’Til It Happens to You.” She gave the best performance of the night while being joined onstage by survivors of sexual assault.
Kesha, who recently said she was sexually assaulted, tweeted her support of Lady Gaga’s moment. Lady Gaga was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden, who gave a great speech, even though it was weird that he was at the Oscars.
Other weird moments included Stacey Dash running out on stage to say “Happy Black History Month!” and Best Costume Design winner Jenny Beavan not dressed nicely or appropriately for the event. Sacha Baron Cohen presented an award as his classic character Ali G, which led to some inappropriate comments.
All in all, the Academy Awards shined brightly as the winners were able to give real speeches instead of babbling through a list of thank you’s. The new scroll bar on the TV audience’s screens was a great idea, even though the side notes on the presenters was a bit odd.
Rock did a great job hosting, DiCaprio finally won, and journalism got its biggest prize with “Spotlight” winning Best Picture.
If you missed any of this year’s big winners while they were in theaters, most will be returning to theaters this weekend to celebrate the wins. Check your local theater’s listings for which winners will be back near you.
With the award season officially closed, it will be interesting to see which films make the biggest impact on 2016.