The 92nd Academy Awards were held on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, CA.
Singer and actor Janelle Monae opened the ceremony with a musical performance of “It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Monae was joined on stage by actor and fashion icon Billy Porter and dancers represented characters from films such as “Midsommar,” “Us,” and “Dolemite Is My Name,” all of which many agree the Academy failed to give proper recognition to. During her performance, Monae gave a shoutout to underrepresented minorities, stating, “We celebrate all the women,” then following with, “Happy Black History Month.” Monae even got actors like Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio to sing along during her performance.
Actor Brad Pitt was the first of the nominees to take an Oscar home, winning the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of stuntman Cliff Booth in Quentin Taratino’s drama-comedy, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Many of the winners used their speech time to bring attention to marginalized groups that the Academy continuously fails to recognize. New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi dedicated his Best Adapted Screenplay win for his dark comedy “Jojo Rabbit” to indigenous youth, saying, “I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories. We are the original storytellers, and we can make it here.” Similarly, Karen Rupert Toliver, who won Best Animated Short Film alongside co-producer Matthew A. Cherry for “Hair Love,” highlighted the importance of representation in film: “We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply, especially in cartoons. That’s when we first see our movies and how we shape our lives.”
Steve Martin and Chris Rock also brought attention to current issues, such as cancel culture, the prevalent homelessness problem in Los Angeles, and the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations during their opening dialogue. When highlighting the directors nominated, the duo brought attention to the lack of women nominated. “I thought there was something missing from the list this year,” said Martin, to which Rock replied, “Vaginas?”
The awards ceremony also included several musical performances by artists such as Elton John, Randy Newman, and Cynthia Erivo. “Frozen II” actress Idina Menzel performed “Into the Unknown” alongside Norwegian singer Aurora and nine other singers who voice Menzel’s character, Elsa, in international versions of the film. Billie Eilish and brother Finneas performed a rendition of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” for the award ceremony’s In Memoriam segment.
Todd Phillips’s “Joker,” which was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, only took home two of the awards, surprising audiences. Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of the titled villain. Hildur Guðnadóttir won for Best Original Score, being the first woman to win the award in 23 years. The Icelandic composer gave an empowering speech, saying, “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters, who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices.”
Bong Joon-Ho’s drama-mystery “Parasite” took home four of the six awards for which it was nominated, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film. Bong Joon-Ho won for Best Director, winning against Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Noah Baumbach. “I thought I was done for the day and was ready to relax,” joked the South Korean director. “When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying I carved deep into my heart: ‘The most personal is the most creative.’ That quote is from our great Martin Scorsese,” he added. “Parasite” shocked audiences when it won against “Joker,” “The Irishman,” and “1917” for Best Picture. “I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now,” said co-producer Kwak Sin Ae.