My Review of the 93rd Academy Awards

Well, I am surely not the only person to use this pun to describe last night’s Academy Awards, but for a ceremony that primarily took place at Los Angeles Union Station, it certainly went off the rails at the end. This ceremony was never going to be perfect or look the way we’ve grown accustomed to as an audience in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I could never have imagined just how crazy this year’s Oscars, which was for the most part fairly uneventful throughout, would end up. The show still had some great moments, hilarious parts, and inspirational speeches, albeit along with some very miscalculated bits—here’s my review of the 93rd Academy Awards.

It’s probably necessary to get to the show’s twist ending first. At every Oscars since 1948 (with the 1971 ceremony being the lone deviation), the Best Picture award has been announced last. Clearly, if you dig into Oscars history, you’ll find that most early ceremonies didn’t utilize this setup, but nearly every film fan, for the most part, has grown up watching the biggest award in world cinema deservedly announced last. This year, things got weird when Rita Moreno stepped onto the stage and started reading off nominees for Best Picture—I was quite confused, wondering if I had somehow blacked out for the two lead acting categories, rewinding my TV a bit to make sure. The nominees also looked a bit stunned by the reorganization of the show’s homestretch. At that point, it felt like the Oscars producers (which this year included previous Best Director winner Steven Soderbergh) mixed things up to deliberately set up a massive emotional climax for the night—Chadwick Boseman becoming the third actor to win a posthumous acting award for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. My goodness, was that a mistake. The Academy famously doesn’t know the results of any category until the envelopes are opened during the live broadcast, as its longtime accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, tabulates the ballots and keeps the results entirely confidential—that couldn’t have been clearer in light of how this show ended up.

After Renée Zellweger presented the Best Actress award to Nomadland’s Frances McDormand (a win which made her only the second woman to win three career Best Actress Oscars, behind only Katharine Hepburn who won four) last year’s Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix strutted out and, in trademark fashion, stumbled through an intro about acting. Eventually, after reading the nominees, Phoenix opened the envelope and the rest is history. Instead of Boseman winning the Oscar, the award went to legendary actor Anthony Hopkins for his performance in The Father, who, at the age of 83, became the oldest actor to win an Oscar. However, Anthony Hopkins didn’t show up this year, either in Los Angeles or at any satellite location (including London). Via Phoenix, the Academy accepted the award on Hopkins’s behalf, and then the camera cut back to in-house DJ Questlove, who thanked everyone for watching and ended the show. It was mind-boggling—truly the epitome of the term anticlimactic.

This year, I personally (and I recognize that it’s all subjective) had Riz Ahmed, Anthony Hopkins, and Steven Yeun ahead of Chadwick Boseman on my Best Actor rankings. Ahmed gave such a powerful performance in my favorite movie of the year (Sound of Metal), Hopkins delivered arguably the best performance of his career in The Father, behind only his Oscar-winning role in Silence of the Lambs, and Yeun was beautifully poignant in the wonderful Minari—although Boseman was certainly stunning in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, I personally felt other performers in far-better movies were more deserving of being declared the year’s best actor. With that said, I was certainly on board and excited for Boseman to win this year—in his final film performance, while in the final stages of his cancer, he gave an impassioned portrayal of Levee Green, and the Oscar here would have felt like a fitting tribute to an incredibly talented actor who impacted the world in so many incredible ways through films like Black Panther and whose life was tragically cut short by cancer. The betting odds heavily favored Boseman at -1667 and other than the BAFTA (which went to Hopkins), Boseman swept the other major pre-Oscars awards. The world certainly expected to see Boseman winning this award.

If you ventured to Twitter after the show, it was full of Oscars slander for Boseman’s surprise loss. And understandably so, as literally everything pointed to Boseman’s posthumous win. The Academy built the entire close of the show around the possibility for a heartwarming emotional high point based on an expected Boseman victory, and instead, we ended the show on an award without its winner anywhere to be found to deliver an acceptance speech. Steven Soderbergh and the producers gambled big on that setup…and ultimately, they lost big.

Aside from the Oscars’ twist ending, there were a number of other noteworthy moments from this year’s ceremony. First, last night was a major step in the right direction for the Academy as it works to overcome the infamous #OscarsSoWhite controversy a few years ago and be more inclusive. This year’s class of nominees was the most diverse in Oscars history, and a number of historic moments followed. Nomadland’s Chloé Zhao became only the second woman (and first woman of color) to win the coveted Best Director award. Both the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress winners (Daniel Kaluuya and Youn Yuh-jung, respectively) were people of color. Emerald Fennell won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (the first woman to do so since Diablo Cody won for Juno in 2008). And for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first black women to ever win for Makeup and Hairstyling. It was a great night for inclusion and diversity.

Additionally, per usual, there were some great speeches, ranging from inspirational to hilarious. In particular, I enjoyed watching Daniel Kaluuya, who won Best Supporting Actor for my favorite acting performance of the year in Judas and the Black Messiah, deliver a wonderful tribute to Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party. (He also referenced his parents having sex, which turned out to be particularly hysterical as the camera then cut to a live shot of his mother, who was watching from the British Film Institute in London.) I was also nearly brought to tears listening to Thomas Vinterberg, who won Best International Film for his brilliant Another Round, dedicate the Oscar to his late daughter, Ida, who was supposed to appear in the film but died in a tragic traffic accident just days into production. On the lighter side, it was a joy to watch Youn Yuh-jung give her acceptance speech after winning Best Supporting Actress for her scene-stealing performance in Minari. Youn was just as adorably funny in real life as she was in Minari, especially as she gushed over her presenter, Brad Pitt.

Lastly, I couldn’t do a proper review of the show last night without mentioning the funniest moment of the evening. During the middle of the show, there was a musical bit where actor/comedian Lil Rel Howery picked actors in the audience to listen to past movie songs (played by Questlove) and guess whether those songs won an Oscar for Best Original Song, were just nominated in the category, or none of the above. Truthfully, I didn’t enjoy this bit almost in its entirety—it was a bit choppy and didn’t land the way the producers probably thought it would. However, this “game” provided us with the night’s most gif-worthy moment—acting legend Glenn Close dancing to “Da Butt,” the song featured in Spike Lee’s 1988 film School Daze. I sure didn’t see that one coming, but it was very, very funny!

 

93rd Academy Awards: Best Picture Odds, My Ballot, and a Complete Ranking of the 2020 (COVID) Year in Film

With the Oscars airing tonight, one of the wildest years in cinematic history is ending, which means my year-end film blogging is also winding up for the season. Despite the unusual nature of this past year’s film releases in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year was still chock-full of amazing movies. It has particularly been a blast for me to write about this unique year of cinema these past couple of weeks and share those thoughts with you all. In advance of tonight’s 93rd Academy Awards, I have posted this recap. Below you will find (1) my predictions for the Best Picture category, including a discussion of the current betting odds, (2) my Top 10 Films of 2020, (3) my personal ballot for all categories in which I have seen each film/performance (14 of the 23 total categories, with a total of 89 of the 118 nominees), and (4) a complete ranking of every film I saw from this year’s Oscars eligibility period.

With that said, check out my recap and then make sure to tune into the 93rd Academy Awards tonight at 7:00 p.m. (CST) on ABC, live from Los Angeles Union Station and the Dolby Theatre, along with a number of satellite sites around the world, including in New York City, London, and Paris. Enjoy the show, film fans.

Best Picture – Who Could, Should, and Will Take Home Film’s Biggest Award

Who Could WinThe Trial of the Chicago 7

I liked Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, but I didn’t love it. For me, it was one of the two weakest Best Picture nominees this year. The betting odds, however, view the film quite favorably—the movie is presently getting +600 odds, the best of any challenger to Nomadland. I am personally a bit surprised by these odds, but it appears if there is the chance for an upset in the Best Picture category this year, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is likely the one to make it happen.

Who Should WinSound of Metal

As I described in great detail yesterday in my Top 10 post, Sound of Metal was my favorite movie of the year. If I had a vote for the biggest award of the night, this film would get it.

Who Will WinNomadland

So far this season, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland has swept the major awards in the Best Picture-equivalent categories, winning the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Movie Award, and British Academy Film Award. Currently, the film is getting -670 frontrunner odds. I definitely think when the biggest award is announced late tonight, Nomadland will be victorious.

Top 10 Films of 2020 (COVID Year)

1. Sound of Metal
2. Judas and the Black Messiah
3. The Invisible Man
4. Tenet
5. Palm Springs
6. The Vast of Night
7. Minari
8. The White Tiger
9. Promising Young Woman
10. I Care A Lot

My Personal Ballot for the 93rd Academy Awards

Best Picture

  1. Sound of Metal
  2. Judas and the Black Messiah
  3. Minari
  4. Promising Young Woman
  5. Nomadland
  6. The Father
  7. The Trial of the Chicago 7
  8. Mank

Best Director

  1. Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
  2. Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
  3. Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
  4. David Fincher – Mank
  5. Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round

Best Actor

  1. Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
  2. Anthony Hopkins – The Father
  3. Steven Yeun – Minari
  4. Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  5. Gary Oldman – Mank

Best Actress

  1. Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
  2. Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman
  3. Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday
  4. Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  5. Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah
  2. Paul Raci – Sound of Metal
  3. Lakeith Stanfield – Judas and the Black Messiah
  4. Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
  5. Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami…

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Youn Yuh-jung – Minari
  2. Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
  3. Olivia Colman – The Father
  4. Amanda Seyfried – Mank
  5. Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Promising Young Woman – Emerald Fennell
  2. Judas and the Black Messiah – Will Berson and Chaka King (screenplay); Berson, King, Keith Lucas, and Kenny Lucas (story)
  3. Sound of Metal – Abraham Marder and Darius Marder (screenplay); Derek Cianfrance and D. Marder (story)
  4. Minari – Lee Isaac Chung
  5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Aaron Sorkin

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Father – Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller (based on Zeller’s play of the same name)
  2. The White Tiger – Ramin Bahrani (based on the novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga)
  3. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, and Dan Swimer (screenplay); Baron Cohen, Nina Pedrad, Swimer (story); based on the character by Baron Cohen
  4. Nomadland – Chloé Zhao, based on the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
  5. One Night in Miami… – Kemp Powers (based on his play of the same name)

Best Documentary Feature

  1. My Octopus Teacher
  2. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
  3. Time
  4. Collective
  5. The Mole Agent

Best Original Score

  1. Soul – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste
  2. Minari – Emile Mosseri
  3. Mank – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  4. News of the World – James Newton Howard
  5. Da 5 Bloods – Terence Blanchard

Best Sound

  1. Sound of Metal – Jaime Baksht, Nicolas Becker, Philip Bladh, Carlos Cortés, and Michelle Couttolenc
  2. Greyhound – Beau Borders, Michael Minkler, Warren Shaw, and David Wyman
  3. Soul – Coya Elliot, Ren Klyce, and David Parker
  4. Mank – Ren Klyce, Drew Kunin, Jeremy Molod, Nathan Nance, and David Parker
  5. News of the World – William Miller, John Pritchett, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Oliver Tarney

Best Production Design

  1. Tenet – Nathan Crawley (Production Design) and Kathy Lucas (Set Decoration)
  2. Mank – Donald Graham Burt (Production Design) and Jan Pascale (Set Decoration)
  3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Mark Ricker (Production Design) and Karen O’Hara and Diana Sroughton (Set Decoration)
  4. News of the World – David Crank (Production Design) and Elizabeth Keenan (Set Decoration)
  5. The Father – Peter Francis (Production Design) and Cathy Featherstone (Set Decoration)

Best Cinematography

  1. Nomadland – Joshua James Richards
  2. Judas and the Black Messiah – Sean Bobbitt
  3. News of the World – Dariusz Wolski
  4. Mank – Erik Messerschmidt
  5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Phedon Papamichael

Best Film Editing

  1. Sound of Metal – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
  2. Promising Young Woman – Frédéric Thoraval
  3. Nomadland – Chloé Zhao
  4. The Father – Yorgos Lamprinos
  5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Alan Baumgarten

Complete Ranking of All Films Seen from 2020 (COVID Year)

1 Sound of Metal
2 Judas and the Black Messiah
3 The Invisible Man
4 Tenet
5 Palm Springs
6 The Vast of Night
7 Minari
8 The White Tiger
9 Promising Young Woman
10 I Care A Lot
11 The Climb
12 Nomadland
13 Blow the Man Down
14 Soul
15 Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
16 The Father
17 The Gentlemen
18 Da 5 Bloods
19 I’m Your Woman
20 My Octopus Teacher
21 Boys State
22 The Dissident
23 The 40-Year-Old Version
24 Rocks
25 Saint Maud
26 Another Round
27 All In: The Fight for Democracy
28 Dick Johnson Is Dead
29 Babyteeth
30 Uncle Frank
31 On the Rocks
32 The Platform
33 Extraction
34 Greyhound
35 The Trial of the Chicago 7
36 Hamilton
37 Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
38 Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
39 Onward
40 Malcolm & Marie
41 Pieces of a Woman
42 One Night in Miami…
43 The Old Guard
44 Time
45 The Way Back
46 The Hunt
47 The Dig
48 Emma.
49 Collective
50 Blue Story
51 Bad Education
52 Totally Under Control
53 Athlete A
54 John Lewis: Good Trouble
55 The Shadow of Violence
56 The Mole Agent
57 Mank
58 The Way I See It
59 The Scheme
60 Run
61 Arkansas
62 News of the World
63 The Social Dilemma
64 His House
65 First Cow
66 I’m Thinking of Ending Things
67 Class Action Park
68 Enola Holmes
69 The One and Only Ivan
70 American Murder: The Family Next Door
71 Miss Americana
72 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
73 The Other Lamb
74 Never Rarely Sometimes Always
75 The United States vs. Billie Holiday
76 The Little Things
77 Swallow
78 Ammonite
79 True History of the Kelly Gang
80 Unpregnant
81 Tigertail
82 Come to Daddy
83 Big Time Adolescence
84 Hillbilly Elegy
85 An American Pickle
86 Tread
87 The Lovebirds
88 Be Water
89 Irresistible
90 Lost Girls
91 All Day and a Night
92 Synchronic
93 Eddie
94 Get Duked
95 Guns Akimbo
96 My Darling Vivian
97 Elephant
98 Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story
99 Selfie
100 Capone
101 The Cat in the Wall
102 TFW No GF

The Triumphant Return of My Annual “Countdown to the Oscars” – COVID Edition

The World Theater signDue in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic, this past year was one of the wildest in movie history (and honestly, probably the most bizarre year of my life, period). Theaters closed down (both temporarily and, unfortunately in some cases, permanently), nearly every major film set to debut in 2020 was either delayed until 2021/2022 or released exclusively on streaming platforms, and the entire landscape of cinema was likely changed forever. During the eligibility period for this year’s Oscars (which usually spans one calendar year but this year includes movies released in 2020 all the way up until February 28, 2021), I saw over 100 movies, which is more than I’ve ever seen before in a single Oscars eligibility year. And yet, I only saw two movies physically in a theater (The Invisible Man literally right before the COVID lockdown and Tenet while masked up in my local limited-capacity, socially distanced AMC). Obviously, this past year was incredibly unusual in all facets of life, including movies, but there’s plenty of positive things to be excited about for 2021—I am fully vaccinated (Pfizer for the win!) and movies are rapidly returning to theaters around the country. I cannot wait to be back in front of that giant silver screen all year long.

Despite the unique circumstances from the past year, the current Oscars eligibility period was a wonderful year for movies, and I am extremely pleased to now return for another annual installment of my “Countdown to the Oscars” blog. Over the next two weeks, I cannot wait to share with you my thoughts on the best movies released this past year as we approach the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, which is set to take place live on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at both its traditional home (the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood) and a second location (Los Angeles Union Station) due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (The Academy also announced since it would not permit guests to participate virtually this year, it plans to establish additional physical sites in both London and Paris to ease travel for those based elsewhere around the globe.)

Here’s a recap of the structure of posts you can expect to see on The Reel Countdown the next two weeks: (1) my “Top 10 Films of the Year” (including an “Honorable Mentions” post, which will break down the five films that just missed out on cracking my list this year), (2) my own personal Oscars ballot (i.e., how I would vote if I had a ballot) for some of the year’s major categories, based on this year’s nominees, and (3) a recap of the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, which will highlight the most noteworthy moments from the broadcast.

Let the show begin!

My Review of the 92nd Academy Awards

Well, that’s a wrap on the 92nd edition of the Academy Awards. Like all years, the Oscars had some great moments, some not-so-great moments, and some hilarious quotes! Here are my reactions to some of the major highlights from this year’s Oscars:

Best Moment: Parasite wins Best Picture

Through the first 91 years of the Academy Awards, no foreign-language film had won the Oscar for Best Picture. Last night, that streak ended. As I discussed on my post yesterday analyzing the Best Picture odds, the betting lines had gotten very tight between 1917 as the favorite and Parasite as the closest challenger. Thus, Parasite’s win was not entirely surprising, although it sure made for the best moment of the night, as it was one of my very favorite films from the past decade. (Overall, Parasite dominated this year, winning four Academy Awards, the most of any other film.) Additionally, the win made history for another noteworthy reason, as it became only the second film to win both the Palme d’Or at Cannes and Best Picture at the Oscars (the first time it’s happened in 64 years).

Worst Moment: Cutting the lights off on Parasite during the Best Picture acceptance speech

As mentioned above, the Best Picture win for Parasite was historic. When it came time for the acceptance speech, it took slightly longer than most would because the producers were speaking through interpreters. In light of all this, it was extra annoying when the ceremony cut the lights off on the winners before they were finished speaking. Although this was the worst moment, it was quickly followed by the most redeeming moment, thanks to the crowd’s audible displeasure with the situation. The camera even caught the likes of Regina King, Tom Hanks, and Charlize Theron chanting for the lights to come back up. This was a huge moment for Parasite, and I am glad that ultimately, the winners were allowed extra time to celebrate the victory!

Most Surprising Moment: Eminem!

We knew about nearly all of the musical performances last night in advance. One we didn’t know about was Eminem. A video was introduced during the ceremony that paid homage to some amazing songs in film history. Toward the end of the video, scenes from 8 Mile played, accompanied by the instrumental introduction from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” which won for Best Original Song that year. Then, the video ended…and Eminem popped up on stage to perform a live rendition of his monster hit from the early 2000s. The moment totally caught me by surprise (as well as others in the audience, based on their reactions), but I loved every second of it. Eminem did not attend the Oscars the year “Lose Yourself” won, so it was great to finally see him on stage performing on film’s biggest night!

Sleepiest Guest: Martin Scorsese during “Lose Yourself”

Twitter was on fire last night with some hilarious reactions during Eminem’s performance, but the funniest for me was the image of The Irishman director Martin Scorsese fighting off a nap. The ceremony is long, so I get it if Marty was a bit tired. But right in the middle of a loud rap performance??

Best Jokes from the “Non-Hosts”

For the second straight year, the Oscars was without an official host. However, in the hostiest of hostless ways, comedians Steve Martin and Chris Rock (both of whom have previously hosted the show) came out following the opening musical number to deliver a monologue. Some of the highlights included an absolute roasting of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, including his divorce (“He saw Marriage Story and thought it was a comedy”); poking fun at the long runtime of Martin Scorsese’s latest film (“I loved the first season of The Irishman“); and a hilarious discussion by Chris Rock of Ford v Ferrari (“I got a Ford, I got a Ferrari…it ain’t even close. That’s like Halle Berry versus gum disease”).

Funniest Presenters: Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig

Can we just hire Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig to host every Oscars every year? The two comedy queens co-presented the awards for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design, and per usual, hilarity ensued. Rudolph and Wiig wanted the directors in the room to know they “do more than comedy” and can “act.” Naturally, they crushed it!

Biggest Upset: Bong Joon-ho wins Best Director over Sam Mendes

Although I predicted that the Academy would award Best Picture to Parasite, I was certain Sam Mendes would win Best Director for 1917 for the immense technical achievement of the film. Leading up to the ceremony, Mendes was a -400 favorite to win, with Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho a +300 underdog. As I wrote about yesterday, in three of the previous four years, the Academy gave Best Director and Best Picture to different movies. Thus, I figured the split would be on again this year. But the Academy threw us all a curveball, giving Bong a clean sweep of the two awards. (Bong was the largest statistical underdog, from a betting perspective, to pull off an upset last night.)

My Review of the 91st Academy Awards Ceremony

Well, that’s a wrap on the 91st edition of the Academy Awards. Like all years, the Oscars had some great moments, some not-so-great moments, and some hilarious quotes! Here are my reactions to some of the major highlights from the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony:

Best Moment: “Shallow” performance by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

This performance was a knockout! Like most fans of A Star Is Born, I have listened to “Shallow” from the film’s soundtrack on repeat since I first saw the movie. The performance by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper was probably the moment I was most looking forward to last night, and it absolutely, unequivocally did not disappoint. I will admit, after watching that recent impromptu performance of “Shallow” together at a Lady Gaga concert in Vegas, I was a little worried about Cooper’s singing abilities come Oscar night – that ended up being a total non-issue, as Cooper’s performance of his portion of the song was pitch-perfect. Obviously Gaga knocked the song out of the park, and it was such a cool moment to see these two (who had some of the best on-screen chemistry in any movie last year) light it up on Hollywood’s biggest night.

Worst Moment: Green Book wins Best Picture

Talk about a letdown to end an otherwise enjoyable night celebrating cinema. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed Green Book. It was a good movie. A good movie. But the best movie of the year? Not a chance. Not a damn chance. The above tweet from The A.V. Club so perfectly sums up a Green Book win for Best Picture. This year, there were some wonderful movies nominated in the Best Picture category, and I would not have been unhappy whatsoever to see a win for The Favourite, A Star Is Born, Black Panther, Roma, or BlacKkKlansman – in fact, any one of those five films would be a deserving victor. You could sense it on the broadcast that the Dolby Theatre found the win underwhelming, too, as everything seemed deflated during the acceptance speech.

Most Surprising Moment: The hostless concept wasn’t that bad 

Following the Kevin Hart controversy, viewers were understandably interested in how the Academy would execute its first hostless ceremony in exactly 30 years. Although the last Oscars without a host didn’t go down in the annals of history in a positive manner, I was pleasantly surprised with how good last night’s show was despite lacking a customary ringleader. First, instead of a monologue, the Oscars kicked off with an amazing musical performance of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” by Queen and Adam Lambert – in a year where Bohemian Rhapsody won the most Oscars, it was a fitting start to the show. Then, we got a short definitely-not-a-monologue by definitely-not-hosts Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler – although brief, it still provided a good taste of jokes that we are used to at the Oscars. All in all, I was surprised with how enjoyable the show was without a host.

Most Awkward Moment: Vice Acceptance speech for Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Every year at the Oscars, we get some incredibly eloquent and thought-provoking acceptance speeches that are emotionally affecting and inspirational – the one for Vice’s Best Makeup and Hairstyling win by Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, and Patricia Dehaney was not one of those speeches. It was downright painful. The three winners constantly talked over each other while reading off a piece of paper containing names of those they wanted to thank – Greg Cannom even quipped at one point when he was told by one of his co-winners to read a particular line from the “thank you” paper, “No, I already did.” It was bumbling and awkward, and many on Twitter dubbed it the worst acceptance speech of all time. Twitter ain’t wrong.

Biggest Upset: Olivia Colman wins Best Actress 

When Olivia Colman’s name was called for Best Actress, I think I might have literally fist-pumped on my couch while exclaiming, “YES! SHE DID IT!” It was such a major moment because (1) I loved Colman’s performance in The Favourite and desperately wanted her to win, and (2) Glenn Close was a MAJOR frontrunner to take home the award. I had pretty much accepted that Close would win this award after taking home nearly all of the Best Actress trophies at the major pre-Oscars award shows. (And I wasn’t even mad about it, because I loved her in The Wife.) But if ever there was an upset at this year’s Oscars, I am incredibly thankful that it was in Colman’s favor.

Best Joke: (Tie) Peeing at the Grammys and Fyre Festival

In the aforementioned brief comedy opener by Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, the three women alternated sharing some quick jokes about the ceremony and the nominated movies/performances. There weren’t really any that didn’t hit, but there were a couple that definitely stood out as my favorites. First, Maya Rudolph looked at Bradley Cooper and said, “Don’t worry, Bradley, after four kids, I too have peed myself at the Grammys,” harkening back to Jackson Maine’s unfortunate moment on stage in A Star Is Born. Then, Tina Fey proclaimed to the crowd, “Everyone, look under your seats, you’re all getting one of those cheese sandwiches from the Fyre Festival!”

Line of the Night: From Rayka Zehtabchi during the acceptance speech for Best Documentary – Short Subject

Last night, the Oscar for Best Documentary – Short Subject went to “Period. End of Sentence.” The film is a very serious look at revolutionary efforts by women in India to not only improve feminine hygiene, but also to empower women. I have not yet seen this short film, but from all accounts, it is tremendous and meaningful. When its creators got on stage last night to give their acceptance speech, director Rayka Zehtabchi announced, “I’m not crying because I’m on my period. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” Zehtabchi’s response to winning an Oscar about a taboo subject was brilliant, funny, and full of emotion – definitely the line of the night.

91st Academy Awards: My Ballot and Complete Ranking of 2018’s Year of Film

Well, another Oscar season of blogging about my thoughts on the previous year in film is coming to a close, and per usual, it has been a gratifying experience to share my reviews of 2018’s most remarkable films and performances with all of you. In advance of tonight’s 91st Academy Awards, I have posted this recap. Below you will find my Top 10 Films of 2018, my personal ballot for all categories in which I have seen each film/performance, and a complete ranking of every film I saw from 2018.

With that said, check out my recap and then make sure to tune into the 91st Academy Awards tonight at 7:00 p.m. (CST) on ABC, live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Enjoy, film fans.

Top 10 Films of 2018

1. The Favourite
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
3. The Death of Stalin
4. A Star Is Born
5. Blindspotting
6. Thoroughbreds
7. Upgrade
8. American Animals
9. A Quiet Place
10. Black Panther

91st Academy Awards Ballot

Best Picture

  1. The Favourite
  2. A Star Is Born
  3. Black Panther
  4. Roma
  5. BlacKkKlansman
  6. Vice
  7. Green Book
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Actress

  1. Olivia Colman – The Favourite
  2. Glenn Close – The Wife
  3. Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born
  4. Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
  5. Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Actor

  1. Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
  3. Christian Bale – Vice
  4. Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate
  5. Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Emma Stone – The Favourite
  2. Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
  3. Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. Marina de Tavira – Roma
  5. Amy Adams – Vice

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Mahershala Ali – Green Book
  2. Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  3. Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born
  4. Sam Rockwell – Vice
  5. Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The Favourite – Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
  2. Vice – Adam McKay
  3. First Reformed – Paul Schrader
  4. Roma – Alfonso Cuarón
  5. Green Book – Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. A Star Is Born – Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters
  2. BlacKkKlansman – Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
  3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
  5. If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins

Best Original Score

  1. Black Panther – Ludwig Göransson
  2. Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell
  4. BlacKkKlansman – Terence Blanchard
  5. Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat

Best Original Song

  1. “Shallow” from A Star Is Born – Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andew Wyatt
  2. “All the Stars” from Black Panther – Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, and Anthony Tiffith; Lyric by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith, and Solana Rowe
  3. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs –Music and Lyrics by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch
  4. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns –Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
  5. “I’ll Fight” from RBG – Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren

Best Sound Editing

  1. A Quiet Place – Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  2. Roma – Sergio Díaz and Skip Lievsay
  3. First Man – Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
  4. Bohemian Rhapsody – John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone
  5. Black Panther – Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Roma – Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan, and José Antonio Garcia
  2. First Man – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee, and Mary H. Ellis
  3. A Star Is Born – Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder, and Steve A. Morrow
  4. Bohemian Rhapsody – Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin, and John Casali
  5. Black Panther – Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, and Peter J. Devlin

Best Production Design

  1. The Favourite – Fiona Crombie (Production Design) and Alice Felton (Set Decoration)
  2. Black Panther – Hannah Beachler (Production Design) and Jay Hart (Set Decoration)
  3. Mary Poppins Returns – John Myhre (Production Design) and Gordon Sim (Set Decoration)
  4. Roma – Eugenio Caballero (Production Design) and Bárbara Enríquez (Set Decoration)
  5. First Man – Nathan Crowley (Production Design) and Kathy Lucas (Set Decoration)

Best Film Editing

  1. The Favourite – Yorgos Mavropsaridis
  2. Vice – Hank Corwin
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody – John Ottman
  4. BlacKkKlansman – Barry Alexander Brown
  5. Green Book – Patrick J. Don Vito

Complete Ranking of Films Seen from 2018

1 The Favourite
2 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
3 The Death of Stalin
4 A Star Is Born
5 Blindspotting
6 Thoroughbreds
7 Upgrade
8 American Animals
9 A Quiet Place
10 Black Panther
11 Sorry to Bother You
12 Roma
13 Isle of Dogs
14 Minding the Gap
15 Crazy Rich Asians
16 Annihilation
17 BlacKkKlansman
18 Beautiful Boy
19 Eighth Grade
20 The Wife
21 Vice
22 Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
23 First Man
24 RBG
25 Green Book
26 Monsters and Men
27 Can You Ever Forgive Me?
28 Mary Poppins Returns
29 Bohemian Rhapsody
30 The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
31 First Reformed
32 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
33 You Were Never Really Here
34 Hereditary
35 Bad Times at the El Royale
36 Bird Box
37 Outlaw King
38 Creed II
39 Hold the Dark
40 If Beale Street Could Talk
41 Game Night
42 Red Sparrow
43 Unsane
44 Woman Walks Ahead
45 Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
46 A Shot in the Dark
47 Dumplin’
48 22 July
49 Paterno
50 Disobedience
51 Come Sunday
52 At Eternity’s Gate
53 On Chesil Beach
54 John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
55 Blockers
56 Game Over, Man!
57 Fifty Shades Freed

The Return of My Annual “Countdown to the Oscars” and Best Original Song and Score

Last year, after five consecutive Academy Awards seasons of active blogging here on The Reel Countdown, I was unable to devote any time at all to posting about the year in movies due to a very busy work schedule – in fact, my only post during the run-up to the Oscars last year was simply sharing my ballot and providing a ranked list of all the movies I had watched from 2017. However, I am thrilled to say that my annual “Countdown to the Oscars” is back (is this where I say “and better than ever”?), and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you on the best in film from 2018 over the course of the next three weeks as we approach the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, which is set to take place on Sunday, February 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Since it has been a couple of years since I’ve blogged through an Oscars season, here’s a recap on the structure of posts you can expect to see on The Reel Countdown: (1) my “Top 10 Films of the Year” (including an “Honorable Mentions” post within the next couple of days, which will break down the five films that just missed out on cracking my list this year), (2) my own personal Oscars ballot (i.e., not a prediction of who will win but rather how I would vote if I had one) for some of the year’s major categories, based on this year’s nominees, and (3) a recap of the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, which will highlight the most noteworthy moments from the broadcast.

I am kicking off this year’s edition of The Reel Countdown with my ballot for the two musical categories at the Oscars – Song and Score!

My ballot for Best Original Song is as follows:

WINNER: “Shallow” from A Star Is Born – Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andew Wyatt

In my opinion, no original song better embodied the spirit of its film’s story arc this year than “Shallow,” a beautiful ballad performed as a duet in the film by Jackson Maine (played by Bradley Cooper) and Ally (played by Lady Gaga). The lyrics and musical composition are clearly stunning, but it is the chemistry of the film’s lead characters and their undeniable harmony on the song that truly make “Shallow” one of the film’s greatest assets. Needless to say, I was very excited to see the video pop up online this week of Lady Gaga bringing Bradley Cooper on stage at a Vegas concert to perform the song with her. I cannot wait to see these two light up the stage again on Oscars night – sign me up for any chance to see Gaga belt out her now-iconic “haaa-ah-ah-ah, haaawaah, ha-ah-ah-aaah” line!

2. “All the Stars” from Black Panther – Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, and Anthony Tiffith; Lyrics by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith, and Solana Rowe

3. “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Music and Lyrics by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

4. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns – Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman

5. “I’ll Fight” from RBG – Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren

My ballot for Best Original Score is as follows:

WINNER: Black Panther – Ludwig Göransson

Black Panther is obviously one of the best superhero movies of all time – the acting is superb, the story is unique and fresh, and writer/director Ryan Coogler’s vision is magnificent. But for me, the glue that held all of Black Panther‘s many incredible pieces together was Ludwig Göransson’s thrilling musical score. Göransson’s composition offers brilliance in all of the classical aspects of film scoring, but what sets Black Panther apart is his masterful incorporation of traditional African instrumentation and booming sounds influenced by today’s hip-hop (the latter of which comes as no surprise, considering Göransson is a frequent collaborator of rap’s inimitable Childish Gambino). The Black Panther score is truly magical!

2. Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman

3. If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell

4. BlacKkKlansman – Terence Blanchard

5. Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat

Full List of Films I Saw from 2016: Ranked from 1 – 53

1 Manchester by the Sea
2 Hell or High Water
3 Arrival
4 Moonlight
5 Lion
6 O.J.: Made in America
7 La La Land
8 Fences
9 Zootopia
10 Nocturnal Animals
11 13th
12 Gleason
13 Hidden Figures
14 Hacksaw Ridge
15 Green Room
16 Captain Fantastic
17 Don’t Breathe
18 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
19 Sully
20 Jackie
21 Weiner
22 20th Century Women
23 Morris from America
24 Finding Dory
25 Hands of Stone
26 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
27 Elle
28 The Birth of a Nation
29 Tickled
30 The Program
31 Silence
32 The Witch
33 Amanda Knox
34 Loving
35 The Shallows
36 Bad Moms
37 Florence Foster Jenkins
38 Allied
39 Keanu
40 Office Christmas Party
41 Nerve
42 The Lobster
43 Passengers
44 The Brothers Grimsby
45 The Neon Demon
46 Sausage Party
47 Me Before You
48 The Girl on the Train
49 Suicide Squad
50 The Secret Life of Pets
51 Moonwalkers
52 The Choice
53 The Divergent Series: Allegiant

The Fifth Annual “Countdown to the Oscars” and 2016’s Honorable Mentions

For the fifth consecutive year, welcome back to The Reel Countdown, my annual “Countdown to the Oscars” blog, which now, for the first time ever, officially has its own domain name: http://www.thereelcountdown.com. In just 14 days, the 89th Academy Awards will be broadcasted live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California, and over the next two weeks, I look forward to sharing with you my favorite films from 2016.

For the past few years, this blog has included a breakdown of my “Top 15 Films of the Year,” as well as my own personal Oscars ballot for the year’s major categories. However, starting this year, the countdown of my favorite films of the year will be reduced to a “Top 10”—life has gotten much busier since last year!

After a fantastic year of film in 2016, the lead up to the Academy Awards has produced a number of interesting storylines: La La Land tied All About Eve and Titanic for the most nominations by a single film (14!), the Academy nominated one of the most diverse group of nominees ever, Meryl Streep extended her own record for most nominations by a single actor to 20, Mel Gibson was effectively forgiven by Hollywood after notching a Best Director nomination, and O.J.: Made in America became the longest film to ever be nominated in any category (467 minutes). With late-night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel set to host for the first time, this year’s Oscars will surely entertain on all levels.

I am kicking off my fifth annual countdown by announcing the five films that just missed out on making my list of the Top 10 Films of 2016. Here are my five Honorable Mentions:

No. 11 – 13th

13th is a Netflix original documentary by director Ava DuVernay that explores race, the criminal justice system, and the social consequences of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” In 13th, DuVernay examines how the drafters of the 13th Amendment, while ending slavery in its more traditional form, left themselves an “out” to continue enslaving blacks in America via imprisonment for shockingly inconsequential charges.

To put it simply, 13th is one of the year’s most important films. Not only is it important on a broad humanistic level, it is also as relevant as ever given Donald Trump’s extensive racially unconscious and divisive rhetoric (which director Ava DuVernay portrays in one particularly unflinching scene). Growing up and living in a vastly conservative region of the United States (where it is completely normal to see someone proudly flying the Rebel flag), I have seen firsthand how a wide range of people consider blacks to generally be “criminals,” and DuVernay, with meticulousness and dexterity, examines the roots of this unfounded terror and dehumanization. Exploring D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, the “Jim Crow” laws, President Reagan’s “War on Drugs,” and President Clinton’s “Three Strikes” rule, DuVernay delineates how America has fostered a prejudice for those of color. Everything 13th investigates has clearly been done so with exhaustive, in-depth research, and DuVernay has created one of the year’s most thought-provoking films. Bravo!

No. 12 – Gleason

Gleason is a documentary that follows, with extraordinary access, the life of former New Orleans Saints hero Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed in 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). This film tells the inspirational story of Gleason’s fight against this rare and incurable disease, delving deep into his relationship with his wife, the birth of his son at the beginning of his diagnosis, and his faith.

Gleason is definitely one of the year’s best films (documentary or narrative), and I advise anyone that subscribes to Amazon Prime to make it a priority to watch it. But I will warn you now: PREPARE FOR TEARS! The filmmakers explore Gleason’s diagnosis from every angle and do not sugarcoat anything—they show you the fight and determination of Gleason’s family as they react to the initial diagnosis, but they also examine the real and undeniable daily struggles that come with ALS. This film definitely hits the heart in astonishing ways, but despite the pain and sadness that embody the nature of Steve Gleason’s disease, the story of inspiration and hope reigns supreme.

No. 13 – Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is a biographical drama directed by Theodore Melfi, with a screenplay by Melfi and Allison Schroeder. The film tells the true-life story of Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), three black female mathematicians working for NASA during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Hidden Figures follows the three women as they break a wide range of racial barriers in the early 1960s, including Johnson’s integral role in calculating flight trajectories for John Glenn’s infamous Friendship 7 mission, where he became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Hidden Figures is heartwarming and relevant as ever—not only does it tackle the severe racial tensions of the 1960s, but it also digs into the even more challenging life of a black female during the middle part of the 20th century. The film introduces the world to three extraordinary women who helped shape America’s role in space exploration, and it inspirationally communicates to all girls, especially young black females, that they are just as worthy as their male counterparts in all aspects of life. Hidden Figures is an empowering film, and it is just what America needed during this tumultuous time in our history.

No. 14 – Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge is a war drama directed by Oscar winner Mel Gibson, with a screenplay by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan. The film tells the amazing true-life story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a combat medic during World War II who, as a devout Christian, refused to carry and/or use a weapon. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss single handedly rescued over 75 American soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge, earning him the Medal of Honor—this was the first time the highest military honor had ever been bestowed upon a conscientious objector.

Over the past decade, Hollywood has unofficially blacklisted Mel Gibson following the anti-Semitic comments he made during a DUI arrest in 2006, which has been evidenced by the big studios’ blatant cold shoulder. However, with Hacksaw Ridge, Gibson has returned to the level of filmmaking genius that earned him numerous Oscars for Braveheart—clearly, the Academy took notice, bestowing upon Gibson another Best Director nomination. In addition to Gibson’s direction, Andrew Garfield gives one of the year’s best performances as Desmond Doss—Garfield provided poise and nuance to his real-life character, and the film benefits from his talent. Although the film is far too preachy for my tastes, the incredible action sequences make it well worth the watch.

No. 15 – Green Room

Green Room is a thriller written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier. The film follows the Ain’t Rights, a punk rock band traveling through the Pacific Northwest who, in desperate need of cash, agree to play a gig at a neo-Nazi skinhead club. After the concert, band member Pat (the late Anton Yelchin) returns to the green room to retrieve a cell phone, only to witness a recently committed murder. When Pat and his band members attempt to alert the police, the club’s brass, at the direction of ringleader Darcy (Patrick Stewart), lock the Ain’t Rights in the club’s green room. In thrilling fashion, the rest of the film follows the group’s attempts to make it out alive.

The first time I came across the work of Jeremy Saulnier was in 2014 when I watched his masterpiece of a film, Blue Ruin. Although Green Room does not achieve the same degree of amazement as his previous film, Saulnier has returned to the same well to craft an exhilarating adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Green Room is harrowing and sadistic in its depiction of the dark side of the punk rock scene as it relates to the skinhead subculture; however, Saulnier constructs this horror with composed skill. Led by exceptional performances from the late Anton Yelchin and Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself (Patrick Stewart), Green Room is a wild and crazy adventure that is a must-see!

My Review of the 88th Academy Awards

Well, that’s a wrap on the 88th edition of the Academy Awards. More so than any year previously, the show began with a giant elephant in the room. Deciding to stick with his plans to host, comedian Chris Rock was expected to bring the heat with regards to the serious diversity issue surrounding Hollywood’s biggest night—for better or for worse, he definitely came to play. This year’s Oscars, like most years, had some tremendous moments, some not-so-tremendous moments, and some downright unforgettable moments, and I am pleased to share my reactions to all of the major highlights from the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony:

Chris Rock and the Diversity Issue:

We all knew it was coming from the moment Chris Rock stepped on stage. With the #OscarsSoWhite campaign grilling the Academy’s every move, diversity was always going to be a central topic of the night. Chris Rock, a comedian who has never shied away from racially themed rhetoric, was the catalyst Hollywood so desperately needed to address these issues on Oscar night. Oscars3As far as Rock’s opening monologue, I thought he killed it. While most hosts focus on all of the movies and performances from the year, Rock instead spent his entire opening speech discussing the diversity issues in mainstream cinema. The best part about his monologue was that it was equal parts spoof and sincerity. He hilariously addressed the fact that Jada Pinkett-Smith of all people was the lead protestor of this year’s ceremony due to the lack of diversity in acting categories (although her main beef was obviously that husband Will Smith was “snubbed”). Rock remarked, “Jada is going to boycott the Oscars. Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

In this day and age, race is a particularly hot topic, and although most modern racism is not exactly as it once was (see the 1960s), it absolutely still exists nationwide, even if not so blatant. Rock made light of this fact as well: “Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it ain’t that racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’”

Comedian Chris Rock hosts the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood

Chris Rock made the debate funny, while still inserting kernels of truth. He ultimately ended his monologue on a serious note, making a poignant statement that I absolutely agree with in regards to this diversity debate in cinema: “What I’m trying to say is, you know, it’s not about boycotting anything. It’s just, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors.” In his opening monologue, Chris Rock hit the nail on the head!

Best Moment: (Leo takes home the gold)

Was there really anything better than watching one of the greatest actors in the history of film hear his name called for the very first time at the Oscars? No, people…the answer is “no.” Leonardo DiCaprio has furnished movie-lovers everywhere with an endless supply of quality acting performances in some outstanding films, yet, the 41-year-old actor had never won an Oscar, despite being previously nominated four times in acting categories. UNTIL THIS YEAR! Oscars6As I have mentioned more than once on my blog this year, Leo’s win was never going to be a lifetime achievement award. This was never going to be a “make-up call” for snubbing him multiple times in the past. This year, if Leo won, it was always going to be because his performance in The Revenant was raw, unrelenting, and downright incredible. When Julianne Moore announced Leo as the winner for Best Actor, the crowd stood and cheered loudly—partly because everyone knew this was way past due, but also partly because each and every person in that crowd knew that this year, nobody was better! It was one of the coolest moments in my lifetime of watching the Oscars. Congrats, Leo!

The REAL MVP: (The dude/gal who knew better than to “play off” Leo during his speech)

We have waited decades for Leo to finally take home his first Oscar. And when he finally got on stage to accept his much-deserved award, he gave a speech that clearly appeared as if it would last a good while. I sat on my couch with bated breath, waiting for the orchestra to start playing Leo off. But I waited…and waited…and waited. And the music never came! THANK THE LORD!!!Oscars8 If I would have been at the show, and the orchestra started to play Leo off, I might have throat-punched the conductor (or whichever producer gave the conductor the cue to start the music). Fans of Leo’s career have waited a long time to see him up on that stage, and whoever was in charge of deciding whether or not to play Leo off—you the REAL MVP for saying, “NO!”

Most Boring Moment: (The dreaded length of the ceremony)

This show has got to get shorter. For the fourth straight year, the ceremony lasted over 3 ½ hours (this year’s length was 3 hours, 37 minutes). This year, the Academy instituted a new feature: All winners had already recorded a list of people that they would like to thank, which scrolled across the bottom of the screen like a Sportscenter ticker. Despite this new element, the show still plodded on and on. One of the main things to blame, in my opinion, for the show’s length is the excessive commercial breaks. The NFL can get away with so many cuts to commercial because when the game returns, its hard-hitting action keeps us occupied—the Academy Awards, on the other hand, does not pack that kind of punch. Oscars4When it came down to the final four awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director), the show took 2 commercial breaks. Best Director was announced right after a commercial break, and then—you guessed it—the show took another commercial break. When the ceremony returned, Best Actress was revealed. Then, yep, another commercial break. It was already almost 11pm (CST) at that point, and yet, the show stumbled to the finish line. Something has to be done about the length of the Oscars. Although I love the Academy Awards, I totally get where people are coming from when they complain about its boring nature. Here’s to hoping something changes next year.

Most Surprising Moment: (Mark Rylance defeats Sly Stallone for Best Supporting Actor)

Oscars5

No, Spotlight winning Best Picture is not the most surprising moment of the night—although I disagreed with the Academy’s decision in that category, it was not completely out of left field. This year was one of the tightest Best Picture races in history, as there was never a clear-cut favorite—in fact, The Revenant, The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Spotlight all garnered “Best Picture” wins at variously renowned awards ceremonies this year. The biggest surprise for me was Mark Rylance winning Best Supporting Actor, a category that most viewed as a complete lock for Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. Leading up the Oscars, Stallone’s odds were 2/7 to win the big award, although, to be fair, Rylance was always his biggest competition (his odds were 5/2). Although I did enjoy Rylance’s performance in Bridge of Spies, I was completely caught off guard because the hype has long indicated that Stallone would be a shoe-in for the win.

Hottest Dress: (Rachel McAdams)

Oscars9Look, I am a movie guy—I am not at all a style critic. But let’s be honest, Rachel McAdams looked smokin’ in that green dress last night. The 37-year-old Canadian actress was definitely one of the best dressed from Oscar night, and her gown even had my wife crushing on how “hot” she looked! Let’s all take a minute to bask in the beauty of one of Hollywood’s most stunning stars!