The 2019 Oscars: A “New” Academy At War With Itself

The Playlist | 2/25/2019 | Jessica Kiang
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A house divided against itself cannot stand, so said Abraham Lincoln, a mostly forgotten historical figure plucked from obscurity by an Oscar-winning 2012 film directed by Steven Spielberg. But if the house was the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Sunday, February 24, 2019, it stood quite often, especially when not to do so would have seemed racist. So civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis received a dutiful standing ovation, Spike Lee got an immensely hard-earned one, and despite being white, B-Coops and L-Gags doing “Shallow” got a weird kind of swoony standing O because everyone’s knees were so weak by the end of it. So the house stood, and often, but as with so much of the pageantry and luvviness that hovers in the air on Oscar night — the generous shout-outs to fellow nominees, the gracious smiles of defeat and the blowing of kisses from the podium all the way down to the stalls — the performative presentation of a rosy image of unity and community masked what is a deeply divided Academy.

Click here for more from our Oscars 2019 coverage.

Awards - Story - Lead-up - Night - Weeks

It’s the awards themselves that told a different story. The lead-up to last night was a preamble of approximately 4 million weeks in length, so there was plenty of time for waves of speculation and counter-speculation to happen, and for each new development at a “precursor” award show to be parsed so thoroughly for meaning it was like watching a time-lapse of flesh-eating maggots turning a meaty corpse into a blindingly white skeleton. But even the most categorical of pundits asterisked whatever inalienable conclusion they came to with a bold-print disclaimer borrowed straight from the stockbroker’s handbook: past performance is not a reliable guide to future performance. And this was true in 2019, we were told, because of the membership...
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