Best Oscars moments: Spike Lee's delight, Lady Gaga's sultry Shallow
Delight turned to dismay for Lee after Green Book took the best picture prize
From the high-energy riffs of its Grammy-esque opening number by Queen and Adam Lambert, the 2019 Oscars offered a portrait of an industry and an awards show in transition Sunday night, with the hostless ceremony filled with history-making wins.
Oscar statuettes were spread across a host of films, with Bohemian Rhapsody, Roma, Black Panther and Green Book taking home multiple honours.
After years of complaints about a lack of inclusion in the film industry and a push from the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, this year's slate of winners suggested academy voters may finally be shifting.
This year's recipients included more female winners than ever before and first-ever triumphs by African-Americans in the costume and production design categories. The night also brought Mexico's first-ever foreign-language win as well as inaugural trophies from the academy for Marvel superhero movies.
Yet in a year where an artful Spanish-language movie from a streaming giant (Netflix's Roma) or a superhero box office phenom (Black Panther) could have registered historic wins, voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ultimately chose a divisive, segregation-era dramedy (Green Book) as best picture.
Clocking in at a (relatively!) brisk three and a quarter hours, the show offered some standout moments.
If we had hosted....
With no official host for the show, producers teased the audience with a terrific "what if?" by putting Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph onstage as the first presenters.
The Saturday Night Live alums offered a mini-opening monologue ("If we had hosted, it probably would have gone like this," quipped Fey) that was fast-paced, silly and had many a viewer thinking "Just why aren't they hosting anyway?"
(Honorary mention goes to later presenters Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry for nailing what could have been a cringeworthy sight gag when introducing the costume design category)
Gaga and Cooper sizzle
You've probably heard Shallow a gazillion times by now and Lady Gaga's eventual win for the A Star is Born track was easily among the most predictable Oscar categories of the night.
You'll forget all that when you watch the sizzling, performance of the song by Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
That smouldering look they shared at the end? For many viewers, the word "intimate" felt like an understatement.
Canada in the spotlight
Canadian director Domee Shi went into the Academy Awards already having made history as the first ever female director of a Pixar short film with Bao, a delicious morsel filled with loving tributes to her Chinese-Canadian upbringing and her Toronto hometown.
Winning an Oscar for best animated short? Oscar-calibre icing on the cake.
"To all of the nerdy girls out there who hide behind those sketchbooks, don't be afraid to tell your stories to the world," Shi declared.
"You're going to freak people out, but you'll probably connect with them, too. And that's an amazing feeling to have."
Watch Shi's full acceptance speech:
Extra kudos for her oh-so-Canadian reaction upon winning: as she headed to the stage, she stopped to share a hug with fellow nominee, Canadian and Pixar colleague Trevor Jimenez.
Congrats also go to Canadian sound engineer Paul Massey, who won an Oscar as part of the sound editing team for Bohemian Rhapsody.
The cameras returned again and again to Spike Lee Oscar night and with good reason.
The veteran filmmaker was like a surrogate for the at-home audience and pure gold for online memes — offering outbursts that ranged from pure joy (yes, he jumped into Samuel L. Jackson's arms onstage) to outrage all night long.
Met with a standing ovation, Lee won his first-ever competitive Oscar (he won a Governor's Award in 2015) Sunday night, sharing the adapted screenplay trophy for his film BlackKklansman. He used his time onstage to deliver a fiery acceptance speech that was equal parts celebratory, personal and political.
Later, however, he expressed visible disappointment at Green Book's best-picture win and, backstage in the press room, offered up some wry comments.
"I'm snake-bit. Every time someone's driving somebody, I lose," Lee noted.
The reference? Green Book is based on a real story of black pianist Don Shirley hiring a white chauffeur for a tour in the segregated south. When Lee's acclaimed 1989 film Do The Right Thing was an Oscar contender (though not in the best picture category) the academy crowned Driving Miss Daisy — about a white woman and her black chauffeur — that year's best film.
An utter surprise
It's often the case that underdog winners deliver the greatest speeches and this was the case with The Favourite's Olivia Colman, who apparently believed widely presumed front-runner Glenn Close's best actress win was a foregone conclusion.
"Glenn Close, you've been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be," the Brit declared in her delightfully shell-shocked, utterly hilarious acceptance speech, in which she thanked everyone from her children ("I hope you are [watching]. This is not going to happen again") to the category presenters to Lady Gaga sitting in the front row.
Watch Colman's gleeful acceptance speech:
With files from the Associated Press