The stars were out in Hollywood as the 92nd Academy Awards were presented at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 9. While the ceremony played out predictably in most categories, there were a few surprises up the Academy’s sleeve. Read the reactions from culture writers and co-hosts of The Daily Nebraskan’s “Cinebraskans” podcast, David Berman, Mia Everding and Kyle Kruse.
David: “Little Women” only wins one Oscar
I have not been shy about my opinion that Greta Gerwig’s take on the beloved novel was one of the best, if not the definitive best, film of the year. While the film was up against stiff competition in basically all six categories it was nominated in, it was a shame that it only received one Oscar for Costume Design. From Gerwig’s brilliant screenplay to Alexandre Desplat’s sweeping, melodic score, “Little Women” deserved some more love.
Mia: Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again — give Ronan her damn Oscar already. The 2020 Oscars marked Ronan’s fourth nomination overall and her third nomination for Best Actress, so it seems like high time she finally won the award. Her performance as Jo in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” put a fresh spin on the character and further cemented the actress’ place in the movie industry. Maybe with her roles in upcoming movies directed by Wes Anderson and Francis Lee, Ronan will finally have a chance to secure the golden award once and for all.
Kyle: Scarlett Johansson/Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress
Alright, let me just say first that I believe Renée Zellweger did a great job portraying Judy Garland in “Judy.” However, I don’t think it was a performance worthy of being heralded as the best of the year. That honor undoubtedly should have gone to either Scarlett Johansson for “Marriage Story” or Saoirse Ronan for “Little Women.” They were both absolutely phenomenal in those films, and it stung to see neither of them get recognized.
David: “1917” wins Best Visual Effects
There’s no doubt about it — “1917” is one of the most visually stunning and engrossing movies I’ve ever seen: A film fit for the big screen. So, it was deserving when the film took home the award for Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins’ exceptional work. However, it was quite surprising that it snagged the award for Best Visual Effects over films like “Avengers: Endgame” and the live-action iteration of “The Lion King.” In past years, this award has often gone to CGI-heavy films like “Avatar” and the “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, so it was intriguing, though not entirely unwelcome, for this year’s award to go to a film with more subtle effects.
Mia: Parasite wins Best Picture
I had almost no doubt that “1917” would snag the award for Best Picture. After “Parasite” won Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, I should have doubted “1917’s” chances a little bit more, but the last award of the night still came as a bit of a surprise. The award is certainly deserved, and it was refreshing to see a film with non-English-speaking actors win, but it would not have been my first choice.
Kyle: Jojo Rabbit wins Best Adapted Screenplay
Even though Taika Waititi had already been winning awards for his screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit” throughout this awards season, I still had my doubts that the Academy would recognize him. Both Waititi and his script are oddballs in comparison to the other nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay this year (“The Irishman,” “The Two Popes,” “Little Women” and “Joker”), and I was absolutely thrilled when his name was read. With phenomenal films like "What We Do in the Shadows" and "The Hunt for The Wilderpeople," Waititi has become one of my favorite directors, and the fact that he is now an Academy Award winner makes me beyond happy.
Dave: The hilarious reactions to Eminem’s out-of-nowhere performance
About halfway through the ceremony, the awards presentations stopped dead in their tracks to feature Eminem in a seemingly random performance of the rapper’s beloved song “Lose Yourself.” The performance choice made more sense once it was explained that the producers wanted to give Eminem a chance to perform his Oscar-winning song during the ceremony — a chance he didn’t get when he won in 2003 because he opted to skip the event. It definitely was a bit weird in the moment, but it thankfully birthed numerous priceless reaction GIFs from the audience, from Idina Menzel’s confused bopping to Martin Scorsese’s pained expression.
Mia: “1917” winning Best Cinematography and Sound Mixing
I adored this film, and after seeing it snubbed on several levels — Sam Mendes losing Best Director to Bong Joon-ho, and “Parasite” winning Best Picture — I was glad the World War I drama still came out with some awards. Roger Deakins’ camerawork on the film certainly warranted recognition, and I’m glad the Academy thought so as well.
Kyle: All of Bong Joon-ho’s speeches
“Parasite” was my favorite film of 2019, and to see it sweep many of the major awards was incredibly satisfying. Adding to the satisfaction was watching director Bong Joon-ho go up on stage four times and deliver arguably one of the night’s best speeches on all four occasions. He was so incredibly genuine in his joyous bafflement at winning each time, and he even provided some great humor by joking that he was going to drink until the morning. “Parasite” made history on Sunday night, and it couldn’t be more well-deserved.
Least favorite moment:
Kyle: Rebel Wilson/James Corden “Cats” Moment
As a disclaimer, I have not seen “Cats,” but I am obviously aware of the overly negative reactions it garnered from most everyone on the planet. When Rebel Wilson and James Corden came out on stage dressed as their characters from the movie, I did find it pretty funny at first. However, having them joke about their movie’s poor visual effects might have been a bit in poor taste. There were a lot of people who worked very hard on that movie, and they did what they could with the material provided to them. I don’t think it was the visual effects team’s fault that the movie was so bad.
Additionally, having the pair actually give out the award for best visual effects was even worse. This bit isn’t all that bad on its own — it could’ve worked as an introduction, but not an award presentation. Imagine being someone who poured their heart and soul into working on the visual effects of a film just to have an Oscar bestowed upon you by two comedians dressed as giant cats. It soured the moment a bit, and it just felt out of place.
Mia: Eminem’s performance
For an awards ceremony that is often derided for its egregiously long run time, it would seem an odd choice to throw in an unexpected performance from Eminem, who sang 2002’s “Lose Yourself.” The performance was pulled off without a hitch and showcased the rapper’s abilities on stage, but it seemed out of place and not exactly in tune with the cinematic feel of the award ceremony.
David: Bizarre Introductions
Although the “Oscars” are set to run for three hours each year, that limit is basically always broken. While this year’s three-and-a-half hour runtime was actually shorter than some years’ ceremonies, the show is still really, really long. So it didn’t help that this year, producers decided to have multiple rounds of introductions for categories. Beanie Feldstein introduced Mindy Kaling who then introduced the animated films. The same format followed for Anthony Ramos introducing Lin-Manuel Miranda. It was clunky, to say the least, and added extra fat to the show that could have easily been trimmed.
For more Oscar reactions, tune into this week’s episodes of “Cinebraskans,” where David, Kyle and Mia will break down the ceremony in full.