2020 Oscars Review


Image from Pixabay

Hannah Perry, Staff Writer

2019 was the year of expanding my movie watch history. Toward the second half of the year, I had seen more movies in theaters than I ever have in my life. However, I had never experienced the one award show that dictates what’s the best in film: the Oscars. On the night of February 9th, I had my filled-out ballot in hand and prepared for a show full of entertaining performances, surprises, and history in the making.  

First to grace the stage was Janelle Monáe, who welcomed the audience with a rendition of the Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood theme song. She then transitioned into a specially curated song accompanied by audience participation and backup dancers sporting costumes from both nominated and ‘snubbed’ films. I was not expecting any musical acts since I thought the Oscars was solely focused on movies and acting. My surprise turned into excitement when I was informed that there would be more performances to come.  

In contrast to other award shows, the Oscars went on for the second consecutive year without a host. This allowed a diverse selection of actors to present awards in their own unique ways. Among the presenters, some of the most noteworthy were Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, who came in full force with their sketch comedy expertise. In a room full of Hollywood’s best directors, they used the opportunity to showcase their acting abilities and audition for them. To those who aren’t familiar with the pair, this might have come off as awkward. In my eyes, the scripted bit was wildly entertaining. Most importantly, it showed me that this event, although being formal and prestigious, isn’t to be taken too seriously.  

 When it was time to showcase the nominees for the various awards, the production stepped away from the traditional and monotonous format of showing clip after clip. Instead, they went for more creative presentations. Specifically, the nominated segments for best screenplay were enhanced by the corresponding scripts being shown alongside them. A similar approach was taken for the best costume design category as sketches of the nominees’ costumes appeared on screen. In general, it was the little details such as these that significantly elevated my viewing experience and kept me wondering what would happen next.  

 The biggest twist of the night came after a montage presented by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which focused on the importance of music in film. The last song featured was Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ from 8 MILE, which, to everyone’s confusion, continued playing as the award-winning artist rose from beneath the stage.

I found comfort in knowing that I wasn’t only one who found the performance off putting, as proved by the initially unnerving reaction from Idina Menzel and the vacant expression of Martin Scorsese. At the time, it seemed completely disconnected from the rest of the broadcast, but it was later made known that Eminem was performing in lieu of missing the 2003 Oscars when he won the award for best original song.  

Although the unexpected performance is something I will never forget about my first time watching the Oscars, I also experienced history being made for the final award of the night. Earlier in the show, Parasite had won 3 other awards including best director, best foreign language film, and best original screenplay. The movie’s team received their fourth trophy as it was announced that they had defeated 1917, another frontrunner, and other nominees by winning the prized award for best picture. This was a major accomplishment for Parasite, as it was the first foreign-language film to receive the Academy’s highest honor. It was especially heartwarming to hear about Bong Joon Ho’s evolution from being an aspiring filmmaker and looking up to Martin Scorsese, who he personally thanked from the stage.   

From the musical performances sprinkled throughout the broadcast to a transcendent outcome in the most important category, my first time watching the Oscars did not disappoint. As I continue trying to stay up to date on current movies, I hope to make watching the awards ceremony a consistent, annual occurrence—hopefully having a ballot that reflects more correct predictions in the future.