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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    The biggest moments of the 2024 Oscars

    The most shocking moment of the 2024 Academy Awards on Sunday night? The ceremony ended on time - technically, a few minutes early.

    The telecast was slated to conclude at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, and just after 10:20 p.m., presenter Al Pacino arrived onstage to award best picture and went about it in the most confusing way possible: “Only one will take the award for best picture … and, uh, I have to go to the envelope for that. And I will … here it comes. And my eyes see - ‘Oppenheimer?’”

    The audience seemed baffled, but then roared. Because as expected, “Oppenheimer” - a sweeping epic detailing the creation of the atomic bomb - took home the show’s biggest prize, capping the night with seven trophies, including actor (Cillian Murphy), supporting actor (Robert Downey Jr.), director (Christopher Nolan), cinematography, editing and score.

    “I think any of us who make movies know that you kind of dream of this moment,” producer Emma Thomas said, adding: “The reason this movie was the movie that it was was Chris Nolan. He is singular; he is brilliant. And I’m so grateful to you.”

    While “Oppenheimer” was the predicted juggernaut of the night, earlier in the show, “Poor Things” had all the momentum, picking up wins for costume design, production design and makeup and hairstyling - and that was far before best actress was announced. Below are more highlights from the telecast. (See the full list of winners here.)

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    1. Emma Stone won best actress

    Emma Stone beat Lily Gladstone in a tight best actress race, surprising those who consider the Screen Actors Guild award - which Gladstone won for her role in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which wound up getting shut out at the Oscars - to be a notable predictor for the Academy Awards acting categories.

    Stone gave a charming speech while accepting her win for “Poor Things,” the Yorgos Lanthimos film in which she plays a woman whose brain is replaced with that of her unborn child. She singled out Gladstone while acknowledging her fellow nominees and expressed gratitude for the experiences they shared throughout awards season: “Lily, I share this with you. I’m in awe of you,” she said.

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    2. Da’Vine Joy Randolph gave one of the night’s best speeches

    Da’Vine Joy Randolph, in the first category of the telecast, kicked the show off with a tear-jerker. The 37-year-old former opera singer, who won best supporting actress for her role in “The Holdovers,” did not hold back on the Oscars stage. “You know, I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing this as a career. I started off as a singer,” she said.

    In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Randolph opened up about how impostor syndrome was dampening her awards-season excitement. But when accepting her trophy in a custom pale blue Louis Vuitton gown, the actress released all that pent-up emotion. “For so long, I’ve always wanted to be different, and now I realize I just need to be myself. I thank you for seeing me,” she said as the tears flowed. While onstage, the actress also made sure to spotlight her Yale Drama School professor Ron Van Lieu. “When I was the only Black girl in that class … you saw me, and you told me I was enough.”

    And despite Oscar announcer David Alan Grier’s instructions to keep speeches short, Randolph made sure to sneak in an honorable mention for her publicist, whose name we still don’t know - but who we do know is going to be very busy following Randolph’s big night. “I pray to God that I get to do this more than once,” she said.

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    3. Jimmy Kimmel didn’t make too many enemies

    Most celebrities are wary of hosting awards shows these days (it’s generally a high-risk, low-reward situation), but ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel returned for a fourth time and delivered a monologue that shouldn’t make anyone too angry. Among his targets:

    Sen. Katie Boyd Britt (R-Ala.): “Emma [Stone], you are so unbelievably great in ‘Poor Things.’ Emma played an adult woman with the brain of a child, like the lady who gave the rebuttal to the State of the Union on Thursday night.”

    Robert Downey Jr.’s past substance abuse: “This is the highest point of Robert Downey Jr.’s long and illustrious career - well, one of the highest points.” As Downey touched his nose, Kimmel went further: “Was that too on the nose, or was that a drug motion you made?” (At this point, Downey motioned for the host to move it along with the jokes.)

    Bradley Cooper’s tradition of bringing his mother to award shows: “It’s very sweet, but I guess the question is, how many times can one bring his mom as his date before he is actually dating his mom? Are you working on a movie about Freud right now and not telling us?”

    Robert De Niro and his girlfriend’s 35-year age gap: “In 1976, Jodie Foster was young enough to be Robert De Niro’s daughter. Now, she’s 20 years too old to be his girlfriend.”

    But at the end, Kimmel turned sincere, leading a round of applause for all the workers behind the scenes who didn’t cross the picket lines during the Hollywood strikes last year.

    - - -

    4. Multiple winners got political

    One big question was how political the show might get: It’s a big election year globally, not just in the United States, and the wars in Gaza and Ukraine have no end in sight.

    Arguably the biggest political statement of the night happened on the road to the Oscars - literally. Guests heading to the awards had to be rerouted after a protest calling for a cease-fire in Gaza shut down streets. Some attendees of the ceremony wore orange Artists4Ceasefire pins.

    But on the Oscars stage, politics appeared to take a back seat to publicists, for the most part. That was until “The Zone of Interest” filmmaker Jonathan Glazer accepted the award for best international feature. The English director said the striking Holocaust film depicts how dehumanization “shapes all of our pasts and present”; he then directed the audience’s attention to an Israeli “occupation which has led to conflict for so many people.”

    “Whether the victims of October 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack in Gaza or the victims of this dehumanization,” he continued, “how do we resist?”

    Next was Mstyslav Chernov, who won best documentary feature for “20 Days in Mariupol,” which chronicled Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Chernov pointed out that it was the first Oscar ever given to a Ukrainian film.

    “But probably I will be the first director on this stage to say I wish I never made this film,” Chernov said. He said he would give up the award in return for “Russia never attacking Ukraine, never occupying our cities” and not killing tens of thousands of his fellow Ukrainians.

    Chernov then called on the room to commit themselves to telling the truth about the past: “Because cinema forms memories, and memories form history.”

    Backstage, Chernov told reporters that he didn’t believe his statements were political: “This is a humanitarian emergency and a matter of supporting the civilians that are being attacked and being killed.”

    “I don’t know how I can fix it, and I don’t know whether we should try,” he added. “But I hope that this win will just elevate this story.”

    Best actor winner Cillian Murphy also alluded to war in his speech: “I’m a very proud Irish man standing here tonight. We made a film about the man who created the atomic bomb, and for better or worse, we’re still living in Oppenheimer’s world, so I’d like to dedicate this to the peacemakers everywhere.”

    - - -

    5. There was one more political moment

    Toward the end of the show, Kimmel informed the crowd he received a review of his performance and read it out loud: “Has there ever been a worst host than Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars? His opening was that of a less than average person trying too hard be something that he is not and never can be. Get rid of Kimmel and perhaps replace him with another washed up, but cheap, ABC talent, George Slopanopoulos. He would make everybody onstage look bigger, stronger and more glamorous … blah, blah, blah, make America great again.”

    “Now, see if you can guess which former president just posted that on Truth Social,” Kimmel said dryly. “Well, thank you, President Trump. Thank you for watching, I’m surprised … isn’t it past your jail time?” The audience roared with applause.

    - - -

    6. Cord Jefferson won best adapted screenplay for ‘American Fiction’

    Cord Jefferson, who took home the award for best adapted screenplay, used his speech to call attention to Hollywood’s aversion to taking chances on new talent and new stories.

    Jefferson, a former Gawker blogger, found acclaim as a TV writer on shows such as “The Good Place” and “Watchmen” before adapting Percival Everett’s novel “Erasure” for his first feature film, “American Fiction” (which Jefferson also directed). He acknowledged that he had spoken a lot this awards season on how many people passed on the movie - a point he made not to be vindictive, he said. “It’s a plea that there are so many people out there that want the opportunity I was given,” Jefferson said onstage.

    Backstage, Jefferson said he hoped to convey in his acceptance speech that there’s interest in a variety of Black stories.

    - - -

    7. Some of the presenters were … actually pretty funny?

    After host, presenter has to be the most thankless job in Hollywood. If you do it badly (and so many do), you’ve got an embarrassing highlight reel (or worse, an everlasting meme) to haunt you until the end of time. If you do it well? Well, who does that? At this year’s ceremony, there were some real contenders.

    First up with a bit that was actually funny and not an eye-rolling time suck were “Beetlejuice” co-stars Michael Keaton and Catherine O’Hara. As delightful a pair as always, they went back and forth about all the incredible things that happen in the makeup trailer. “The last thing we want is anyone knowing what we really look like,” O’Hara joked.

    Another refreshing matchup was “Barbie” co-stars Kate McKinnon and America Ferrera, who managed to make the Oscar for best documentary short film funny with a long-running punchline about whether the “Jurassic Park” films were in fact documentaries. (Hint: They were not). And somehow this innocent joke roped in Oscar winner Steven Spielberg, one Jeff Goldblum and “tasteful nudes” from McKinnon.

    The bronze medal goes to the fake “Barbenheimer” feud, which came to a laughable head when “Oppenheimer” star Emily Blunt and “Barbie” star Ryan Gosling became the odd couple of presenters. Blunt called Gosling’s hello “frosty.” Then the actors spent a minute or so shading one another with sick burns about who won more awards this season (“Oppenheimer”) and who brought back the summer movie (“Barbie”). “This is insane, Emily,” Gosling fake-demanded. “We have to squash this!”

    And we don’t even know how to categorize John Cena showing up naked (yes, naked) to present best costumes.

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    8. Messi showed up to the Oscars

    German actress Sandra Hüller gives a stunning performance in “Anatomy of a Fall” as a woman suspected of murdering her husband, but we’d be remiss not to mention the film’s other star: Messi, the border collie who plays the family’s service dog, Snoop. Snoop deals with all sorts of nonsense - the poor thing also has to listen to that steel-band cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P,” after all - but at one point is accidentally poisoned. Messi stuns.

    And luckily, he was in much better spirits at the Oscars. Although there were reports that he might not show up because others were worried he could steal the spotlight, Messi appeared a few times in the audience (including during Robert Downey Jr.’s best supporting actor win).

    - - -

    9. Ryan Gosling crushed ‘I’m Just Ken’

    In the most anticipated performance of the night, Gosling performed “I’m Just Ken,” the earworm Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt created for “Barbie.” He began the performance seated in the audience behind co-star Margot Robbie, who beamed as Gosling revealed his bedazzled pink suit. He strode to the stage, where a bunch of dancers in black cowboy hats performed choreography similar to that of the film’s whimsical fight scene. Joining Gosling onstage? Simu Liu and Kingsley Ben-Adir, two of the other Kens we love to hate. A cute little reunion!

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    10. … but ‘Barbie’ got (mostly) shut out

    It’s hard to think of a movie last year that sparked more conversation and excitement than “Barbie,” but with eight nominations, the Greta Gerwig film received only one award. (Billie Eilish and her co-writer/producer/brother, Finneas, won best original song for the ballad “What Was I Made For?”.) This wasn’t a surprise - even Kimmel reassured Robbie and Gosling during his monologue.

    “Ryan, Margot, I want you to know that even if neither one of you wins an Oscar tonight, you both already won something much more important,” he said. “The genetic lottery.”

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