Oscar Talk: Hear Leo Roar

Posted by: Michael Walkey  //  February 29, 2016 @ 6:01pm

Filed under: Walkey Talk

Well, that was interesting...

One of the best things to happen to the Oscars this year was the #OscarsSoWhite backlash and negative press the Academy received for lack of diversity in its nominees. This wasn't just because it brought awareness to an important subject, but because it brought more awareness to the Oscars themselves. This year's Academy Awards were one of the most anticipated in recent years. And it wasn't just because we were all waiting to see Leo finally pick up his Oscar. Everyone was wondering what host Chris Rock was going to say about this whole situation.

Am I implying the Academy orchestrated a little pre-show controversy to boost ratings? Of course not, but I'm sure the Academy didn't mind a little extra exposure this year, even if it was in a not too favourable light. Remember, there's no such thing as bad press in Hollywood. (As it turned out, the ratings this year were the lowest in six years)

I'll commend Rock for not beating around the bush. He came out guns blazing and addressed the elephant in the room right away. Rock's a smart man. His monologue hit the perfect note. He addressed the situation, humorously illustrated the importance, but made clear there are bigger issues in the world than Oscar nominations. He also made clear getting awards won't fix anything. Because not getting recognition is just a reflection of the real problem for many black actors: not getting work.

I had no issues with Rock's hosting duties. As expected, most of his material was drawn from the lack of diversity issue. But I figure, if you ask a comic who has a reputation of having racially-charged material to be your emcee, you have to accept all that comes along with him. Chris Rock was just being Chris Rock. Sure, the Stacey Dash joke fell flat. But Suge Knight had me in stitches!

Here were the rest of my personal highlights...

  • Spotlight wins Best Picture. There had been some grumblings about a Spotlight surge, but most (including me) were predicting The Revenant to win Best Picture. Hopefully this piques some interest for people to seek out this fine picture, a crackerjack investigation film in the vein of All The President's Men or Zodiac. The subject matter is tough, but it's a real eye opener.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road leads the pack with six trophies. I would have loved to have seen this film win Best Picture or George Miller win Best Director, but winning the most Oscars was a pretty big feat for the best-reviewed film of the year.
  • With all the hoopla surrounding Leonardo Dicaprio, many people didn't realize that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu became the first back-to-back Best Director in 65 years! Only two other Hollywood legends won two straight best director Oscars: John Ford in 1941 and 1942 and Joseph Mankiewicz in 1950 and 1951. This is a huge feat I wish had gotten more publicity. Names like Hitchcock, Kubrick, Spielberg, and Cameron couldn't do what Inarritu did. Add in Alfonso Cuaron's win for Gravity in 2014 and that's three straight years a Mexican director has taken home Tinsel town's top directing prize. Who says Hollywood has diversity issues?
  • Lady Gaga easily had the most emotional moment of the night, performing her Best Song nominee, "Till it Happens to You", from the documentary, The Hunting Ground, about sexual assault on college campuses. Toward the end of the song, she was joined onstage by survivors of sexual assault -- both men and women -- who had words like "survivor" and "unbreakable" written on their arms. She got a standing ovation, but then the Academy had to ruin the moment by handing out the Best Song Oscar to Sam Smith for Spectre's "Writing's On the Wall".
  • After Louis C.K. gave a hilariously truthful introduction about how the Oscar will mean more to struggling documentary short filmmakers than rich Hollywood actors, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy gave my favourite speech of the night accepting for her doc A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, which exposes the practice of honor killings in Pakistan. "This week, the Pakistani prime minister has said that he will change the law on honor killing after watching this film. That is the power of film," she concluded, to thunderous applause.
  • Leonardo Dicaprio picked up his first ever Oscar and everyone in the auditorium (and on social media) couldn't have been happier. It reminded me when I was a kid and a big deal was made when Paul Newman finally won for The Color of Money and when Al Pacino finally won for Scent of a Woman. Not to take anything away from Leo's win, but it took Newman until he was in his sixties on his seventh nomination. Pacino was 52 and on his eighth! This was actually only Dicaprio's fifth acting nomination and he's barley forty. There's no need to over celebrate. Leo's still in his prime. He will win again!
  • And finally, more Jacob Tremblay please!

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

See you next year!

Tags: 88th Academy Awards, Academy Awards, Oscars, Leonardo Dicaprio, Spotlight, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jacob Tremblay, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

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