The 2020 Oscars went almost exactly as expected, except for a groundbreaking win many people did not have faith in the Academy to rightfully award. Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho, won best picture, making it the first international film to win in that category. Almost every other award went to the predicted winner, yet the night seemed filled with more excitement than last year’s ceremony.
Parasite was the biggest winner of the night, with Bong taking home Best Picture, Best International Feature Film, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. The film is a Korean comedy-drama-thriller about class struggles and the damaging effects of capitalism.
The other awards were assigned basically as expected. Joaquin Phoenix (The Joker) took home Best Actor and Renée Zellweger (Judy) won Best Actress. Although the predictions for the best supporting roles ended up being correct, there is still some disagreement about these choices. Brad Pitt won for his work in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and Laura Dern won for Marriage Story. Many think that Scarlett Johansson was snubbed for her supporting role in JoJo Rabbit.
Rogers Deakins rightfully went home with Best Cinematography for his work on 1917. The film, which has the appearance of a single sustained shot throughout, required technical mastery of the medium to pull off. Its sound mixing and visual effects were also both rewarded. Best Makeup and Hairstyling went to Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker for their breathtaking transformations in Bombshell. Jacqueline Durran won for her beautiful costume design in Little Women.
There were some unexpected gifts and pitfalls this year. The show, again, went on without a host, which made for a slightly clunky feel. Steve Martin and Chris Rock did a five-minute set before the awards began which had some good moments but was overall fairly uncomfortable to watch. They took some good swings at Jeff Bezos on his extreme wealth and his recent divorce. However, the comedians seemed as though they hadn’t rehearsed their set at all before performing.
The ceremony was able to make up for the lack of cohesion with amazing musical numbers. Janelle Monaé performed her song “Come Alive” with the accompaniment of dancers dressed in costumes from the best movies of 2019. Eminem also made a surprise appearance to perform, the Oscar winning, “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile.
Lastly, an interesting point was that the Academy was seemingly trying to make up for having only one black nominee for a main category by having a large amount of performers and presenters of color. There were also multiple jokes made about the lack of female directors nominated. The Academy seems to recognize this as a problem but have still not addressed it in a meaningful way. We’ll have to see if Oscars 2021 will have a more diverse group of nominees.