It was a night of upset in Hollywood, as Green Book took home Best Picture in a hotly-contested category.
The Universal buddy drama, starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, overcame stiff competition from superhero movie Black Panther, racially-charged comedy BlacKkKlansman, Queen history Bohemian Rhapsody, off-kilter period drama The Favourite, black-and-white autobiography Roma, musical tragedy A Star Is Born and Dick Cheney biopic Vice.
The film tells the tale of a black concert pianist Don Shirley and his Italian-American driver Tony Vallelonga traveling through the racist deep South. It overcame criticism for its portrayal of Mortensen’s character, Tony Vallelonga, as a white savior. The backlash was furthered by the Shirley family, who claimed it misrepresented the prodigy’s relationship with them.
Green Book was not the only controversial film to emerge triumphant. Bohemian Rhapsody led the awards scoreboard with four statuettes, including Best Actor for Rami Malek, despite a damning investigation by The Atlantic into sexual conduct by its director, Bryan Singer. (Singer denied the accusations.) Black-and-white Spanish-language film Roma and blockbuster Black Panther were close behind with three apiece.
“I think to anyone struggling with their [identity] and trying to discover their voice, we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself,” said Malek, as he accepted his award. “And the fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”
Beyond scandal, it was also an evening of firsts: Auteur Spike Lee landed his first Oscar in his three decade-plus career for race comedy BlacKkKlansman, though he lost out on Best Picture. Lee, who was also snubbed for She’s Gotta Have It because of Driving Miss Daisy back in 1986, had a few words to say. “Every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose,” Spike Lee told the press, while sipping champagne backstage.
Superhero smash hit Black Panther won Marvel the studio’s first statuettes ever, nabbing costume design, production design and best original score. And Mahershala Ali became the first Black actor to win two Oscars in the Best Supporting Actor category, following his performance in interracial roadtrip movie Green Book.
The biggest shock of the night, besides Green Book: Best Actress, which was won by Olivia Colman for The Favourite. She beat out Glenn Close (The Wife), who was widely expected to take the category.
“When I used to work as a cleaner–and I loved that job–I did spend quite a lot of my time imagining this,” Colman said onstage.
Critically-acclaimed period comedy The Favourite and Netflix’s autobiographical drama Roma had the most nominations going into the show, with 10 nods apiece.
Here are the winners, in the order announced:
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Period. End of Sentence.
LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
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