Oscars 2019 Review: The Academy Giveth and It Taketh Away, But That Was One Helluva Show

IndieWire | 2/24/2019 | Staff
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No host, no problem. Though the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences shouldn’t get too much credit for pulling a solid show out of the trash heap of remedied decisions leading up to it (and a few uncorrected voter errors), the 91st Academy Awards proved to work just fine sans host. None of the Oscar staples were cut, and nearly all of them proved to be a huge benefit to the telecast — from the performed songs (including an instant classic “Shallow” staging) to the would-have-been cut categories (the “Skin” creators were the most excited winners of the night) to the length and pacing (this year clocked in as the shortest in at least six years), the 2019 Oscars ran smoother and were far more absorbing than many expected.

And there was a promising indicator as to why. So much focus was put on the bad choices The Academy had been making leading up to this year’s ceremony, the one very, very good choice was largely forgotten: bringing in a more diverse voting body. Despite some problematic forward-facing winners, this year’s Oscars offered many positive steps forward. The new voting body led to a historic, long overdue win for Spike Lee; it led to four black women winning the first five trophies; it led to a record number of black winners overall; it led to women directors sweeping the shorts categories (even though no women directors were nominated for feature directing); it led to a streaming company edging closer to full-blown acceptance in Hollywood’s inner circle; and, yes, it led to a few surprises, including “Green Book” winning Best Picture.

Pick - Progress - Time - Years - Bag

That last pick doesn’t exactly fit the progressive narrative, but progress takes time. This is what happens in transitional years: a mixed bag of statement wins and tone-deaf choices. Plus, less...
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