The biggest talking points and highlights of the 2019 Oscars

All the talk about the 2019 Oscars before the annual ceremony kicked off in LA last night (February 24) made it sound like the whole thing was going to be a nightmare. There was no host. Some of the awards were going to be given out during the ads, then they weren’t. Kendrick Lamar and SZA declined to perform. Surprisingly, it didn’t play out quite like that, with plenty of highlights and talking points cropping up throughout the night.

How did the lack of host affect the ceremony?

The host situation was one of the big topics going into the 2019 Oscars; a sore subject mired in controversy. Some reports suggested that the Academy was considering having a series of SNL-style sketches performed by various stars in place of one presenter. That didn’t come to fruition, leaving what would have been the opening monologue spot to be filled by a performance from Queen and a brief introduction to the whole night from a triptych of comedy heroes in Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler.

Once we were past those opening moments, the lack of host was barely noticeable. If anything, this year’s ceremony felt a lot faster-paced, with no gimmicky interludes to drag the whole thing out. There might not have been quite as many headline-grabbing moments with no host to make political jabs and comedic jibes, but it was far from the disaster it seemed like it was going to be.

Spike Lee finally won

It might surprise you to know acclaimed director Spike Lee, the man behind films like Do The Right Thing and She’s Gotta Have It, has never won an Oscar (not counting the honorary award he was given in 2016). He picked up his third, fourth, and fifth nominations this year for BlacKkKlansman (Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay) and, happily, finally one of them landed. His reaction to winning the latter trophy was heartwarming, too, jumping on award presenter Samuel L. Jackson in celebration.

Olivia Colman is (still) a national treasure

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Olivia Colman is a national treasure. While accepting her incredibly well-deserved award for Best Actress tonight, she managed to win over the entirety of the Dolby Theater (and likely a ton of people watching at home too) in a matter of minutes, thanks to her refreshingly down-to-earth speech. Rather than gushing about it being an honour or your standard awards emotions, she called her victory “genuinely quite stressful” and “hilarious”, blew a raspberry at producers telling her to wrap up, and threw in several effortless quips that had the room on their feet by the time she left the stage. A true icon.

A film about periods won an Oscar

“I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar,” gasped Period. End Of Sentence director Rayka Zehtabchi while picking up the award for Best Documentary Short. The film covers a student-led project called The Pad Project and its work to empower women in a rural village in India to break the stigma around menstruation and produce their own sanitary towels. It seemed unlikely that the movie would be victorious in the lead-up to the event, especially given reports of male members of the Academy refusing to vote for it because of its subject matter. But, gloriously, it prevailed, taking another step forward in the battle to break the taboo over periods.

A Netflix film was one of the biggest winners of the night

For some reason, the film industry is still incredibly snobby about streaming services, especially Netflix. If Roma had won Best Picture, there would be some executives blowing a lid at the idea of a “made for TV” movie picking up the biggest prize of the night. It might not have won that award, but it did take home three statuettes for Foreign Langauge Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Director for Alfonso CuarĂłn. Only Bohemian Rhapsody won more than it with four, while Black Panther equalled it. That fact will probably make some sections of Hollywood quite annoyed, but Roma‘s success should be received as a positive. Platforms like Netflix are opening up cinema for everyone, making it easier and more affordable to watch brilliant stories on our screens, and that can only be a good thing.