In a ceremony that made history for the diversity of its winners, the 1960s race-relations road-trip film “Green Book” was named best picture Sunday evening at the 91st Oscars, while Rami Malek won the prize for best actor and Olivia Colman pulled off an upset to be named best actress.
“Green Book,” the depiction of the friendship that blossoms between a black master pianist and the gruff New York bouncer he hires as his bodyguard for a tour of the 1960s Deep South, also won Oscars for best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali and original screenplay for Brian Currie, Nick Vallelonga and Peter Farrelly, who also directed the film.
“The whole story is about love,” Farrelly said as he helped accept the best-picture prize at the Dolby Theatre. “It’s about loving each other despite our differences, and finding out the truth about who we are. We’re the same people.”
The win for Colman, 45, for her portrayal of 18th Century British Queen Anne in “The Favourite” was a bit of a surprise, since Glenn Close had swept most of the pre-Oscar awards shows for her work in “The Wife.” But it was Colman who collected the Academy Award, and her shock was evident.
“It’s genuinely quite stressful,” she said as she took the stage. “This is hilarious.”
She gave a shout-out to Close, who has been nominated for seven Oscars in her career but has never won.
“To be in this category with these extraordinary women — Glenn Close, you’ve been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be,” she said.
She also gave thanks to her family, joking, “My kids are at home and watching, or if you’re not, well, kind of, well done. But I sort of hope you are. This is not going to happen again.”
Malek, 37, scored Oscar gold for his spot-on portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was his first-ever Oscar nomination.
He thanked his family, noting that “my dad didn’t get to see me do any of this. I think he’s looking down on me right now. This is a monumental moment. I’m so appreciative to all of you, to everyone who has had a hand in getting me here.”
He also gave thanks to Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May, who were sitting in the audience, praising them “for allowing me to be the tiniest part of your phenomenal, extraordinary legacy. I am forever in your debt.”
“I think about what it would have been like to tell little Bubba Rami that one day this might happen to him and I think his curly haired little mind would be blown,” Malek said. “That kid, he was trying to struggle with his identity, trying to figure himself out. And I think to anyone struggling with theirs and trying to discover their voice, listen: We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life just unapologetically himself. And the fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this. I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I’m a first-generation American. 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 for this moment. It something I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody” won four Oscars on the night, also earning prizes for sound editing for John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone; sound mixing for the trio of Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali; and film editing by John Ottman.
Regina King won her first-ever Oscar on her inaugural nomination for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a love story written by director Barry Jenkins based on the book by James Baldwin.
“To be standing here representing one of the greatest artists of our time — James Baldwin — it’s a little surreal,” the 48-year-old actress said. “James Baldwin birthed this baby, and Barry, he nurtured her and surrounded her with so much love and support, so it’s appropriate for me to be standing here, because I’m an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone.
“Mom, I love you so much,” she said, her voice cracking as tears ran down her face. “Thank you for teaching me that God is always leaning, always has been leaning, in my direction.”
Ali’s win for “Green Book” was the second of his career. He also won the Oscar in 2017 for supporting actor for his work in “Moonlight.” He was honored Sunday for his portrayal of Don Shirley, a black master pianist who hires white bouncer/bodyguard Tony Vallelonga — played by Viggo Mortensen — for a tour of the 1960s Deep South in “Green Book.”
“I want to thank Dr. Shirley for — I was just trying to capture his essence,” the 45-year-old Ali said. “Trying to capture Dr. Shirley’s essence pushed me to my ends, which is a reflection of the person he was and the life that he lived, and I thank him. I thank my partner Viggo (Mortensen) — extraordinary work. (Director) Peter Farrelly, thank you for your leadership and your guidance and for also giving us space, like, really giving us space to work it out and coming in and tweaking. Really appreciate it. Love you.
“… I want to dedicate this to my grandmother, who has been in my ear my entire life, telling me that if at first I don’t succeed, try, try again. That I can do anything I put my mind to — always, always pushing me to think positively, and I know that I would not be here without her. She has gotten me over the hump every step of the way.”
Alfonso Cuaron was named best director for his black-and-white story “Roma,” which also picked up prizes for best foreign-language film and for Cuaron for best cinematography. The film follows a domestic worker for a well-to-do Mexican family in the 1970s.
“I want to thank the Academy for recognizing a film centered around an indigenous woman,” he said, noting there are millions of such workers in the world “without work rights” — “a character that has historically been relegated in the background in cinema.”
“As artists our job is to look where others don’t. This responsibility becomes much more important in times when we are being encouraged to look away,” Cuaron said.
The Marvel superhero film and box-office blockbuster “Black Panther” picked up a trio of Oscars — two of which made Academy Awards history. Hannah Beachler, who shared the production-design Oscar with Jay Hart, became the first black production designer to ever be nominated and to win in the category.
Meanwhile, veteran costume designer Ruth Carter also won an Oscar for “Black Panther,” making her the first black woman to ever win in the category. She had previously been nominated for “Malcolm X” and “Amistad.”
“This has been a long time coming,” she proclaimed as she took the stage.
Most notably, Carter and Beachler became the first black women to win Oscars in a non-acting category since 1984.
“Black Panther” also won a prize for best original score by Ludwig Goransson.
Lady Gaga, along with Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt, won the Oscar for best original song for the hit “Shallow” from the film “A Star is Born.”
“I’ve worked hard for a long time and it’s not about … winning,” she said through tears while accepting the honor. “But what’s it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. …. It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”
Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott took home the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman,” which is based on the book by Ron Stallworth. Lee made the most overtly political speech of the night, saying, “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner.”
“Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing,” he said, referencing his famed 1989 film. “You knew I had to get that in there.”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won the prize for best animated feature. For best animated short, the Oscar went to “Bao,” while the live-action-short Oscar went to “Skin” by Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman.
For makeup and hairstyling, the Oscar went to Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney for their work transforming Christian Bale and Amy Adams into Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne Cheney in “Vice.” The Oscar was the fourth for Cannom, but the first for Biscoe and DeHaney.
“First Man” won the prize for visual effects by Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles and J.D. Schwalm.
The Oscar for best documentary feature went to “Free Solo,” which follows rock climber Alex Honnold as he scales the 3,000-foot El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite National Park. The documentary short subject award went to “Period. End of Sentence.”
The Oscar ceremony was held without a host, following the withdrawal of comedian Kevin Hart in December just days after he was given the job. Hart dropped out of the gig after criticism arose about past homophobic jokes and comments for which he has since apologized. Instead, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences brought in an unusually large array of presenters — including non-actors such as tennis star Serena Williams and chef Jose Andres — to keep the ceremony moving.
Lacking a host, Sunday night’s ceremony opened with a performance by the surviving members of Queen, with Adam Lambert on lead vocals, performing the band’s classic anthem “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions,” bringing the crowd to its feet.
A collage of film clips was then shown, followed by a short opening-monologue-type comedy routine by Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler, who then presented the first award of the night, to Regina King for best supporting actress.
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