The Best and Worst of the 2016 Oscars
March 5, 2016
Filed under Arts and Entertainment
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Well, the 88th Academy Awards certainly didn’t fail to entertain. Chris Rock managed to give the show a sense of urgency and mercilessly (and rightfully so) condemned the Academy. Most of the night’s winners were predicted well in advance, but Spotlight and Mad Max eked out a few more wins than expected (again, rightfully so). It was your standard awards show, but maybe one that hinted at good things on the horizon.
Best: Chris Rock’s Monologue
It was a tough job for Rock from the very beginning. Amid calls for a boycott and the pressure of being both congratulatory and angry, Rock was able to open the show with a smart standup set. He cleverly dissected the division of gender-based acting categories, likening the show to a track meet. His best line, of course, was in reference to the casual racism of Hollywood, saying, “Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’”
Worst: Chris Rock’s Monologue
Let’s be fair, though: some of Rock’s barbs were tone-deaf. His swipe at Jada Pinkett-Smith, especially, was a step too far, completely missing the point of an Oscars boycott. Rock’s assessment that there were “real things” to protest in the 1960s also only serves to make the struggle for equal representation seem frivolous and self-centered.
Best: Jacob Tremblay and Abraham Attah
Two of the year’s finest actors, both of whom just happen to be under 15, were already guaranteed to be a bright spot. Just when it seemed like they were going to have trouble with the microphone, Chris Rock came to the rescue with boosters for the duo. Now all we need is a Tremblay-Attah movie franchise.
Worst: The Asian Bit
During a night that was pointedly supposed to be about inclusion, one would imagine that, maybe, race jokes should be made with the utmost precision. Instead, we got a segment that managed to be so, very racist by pulling out three Asian kids, who were supposed to be the accountants for this year’s ceremony (Get it? Because Asian kids are good at math!). Yikes.
Best: Stacey Dash
Fresh off her call for an end to Black History Month and BET, Stacey Dash showed up at the ceremony as the new “director of minority outreach program.” Dash was able to laugh along with everyone in the room and at home, making this the perfect joke to pull after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
Best: The Love for Mad Max
One of the best movies of the year, and certainly the best action movie in a while, Mad Max deserved its praise. Walking away with six Oscars on Sunday night, it certainly felt like the Academy was giving credit where it was actually due (*cough*Birdman*cough*). Mad Max’s visionary, madcap chase through the desert was matched only by its designers walking up to the stage to take their awards.
Worst: The Hate for Jenny Beavan
When Jenny Beavan, costume designer for Mad Max, walked up to the stage to accept her second Oscar, a line of men in the audience noticed a horrifying detail about her: she was dressed like a normal person. Can we just let the woman be a regular human being? At least her outfit actually looked comfortable.
Best: Wins for Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander
Hollywood loves to crown a new set of “it-girls” every year. For the first time in a long time, though, the phrase actually felt like it meant something. Both Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander walked away with statuettes for Room and The Danish Girl, respectively, proving their new star statuses and their uncanny acting abilities. Extra points to Larson for being a one-woman hugging machine.
Worst: The Ali G Bit
Sacha Baron Cohen’s introduction to the world was through Ali G. Maybe, though, it’s better to leave that character in the past. Cohen used his disguise to make another transparent joke about Asians during the ceremony. How was the reception? Just look at co-host Olivia Wilde’s desperate glance at the audience.
Best: Leo Gets His Oscar
It finally happened. One of the finest actors of our day, Leonardo DiCaprio, collected his long-deserved trophy on Sunday night. The only drawback is that we’ll finally have to put this to rest.
Worst: Sam Smith’s Night
Sorry, Sam Smith fans; even Smith himself didn’t like his song. He drifted perilously close to Adele at the Grammys territory, but while Adele’s issue was caused by a mic malfunction, Smith seemed to be just plain pitchy. Even worse, when he collected his award for “Writing’s On the Wall,” he called himself the first openly gay Oscar winner, which is wildly inaccurate. He did enjoy a cup of tea on the red carpet, though, so the night wasn’t a total loss.
Best: Lady Gaga’s Performance
In what started out as an awkward ballad, Lady Gaga gave us the best performance of the night with her powerful song “Til It Happens To You.” The performance wasn’t anything special until the backdrop lifted and 50 survivors of sexual assault walked onto the stage, proudly showing off messages of positivity on their arms.