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And the Oscar goes to…

The awards season has come to an end… a month ago. However, it is worth reflecting on what actually happened at the 96th ceremony of the beloved Oscars. After having a short break from watching the gala, I had a chance to immerse myself in this night full of emotions and entertainment once again.

I watched my very first Academy Award ceremony back in 2017, when Emma Stone won the award for Best Leading Role, and guess what? She’s done it again. However, before she won the award for Best Performance in “Poor Things” and famously broke her dress, the ceremony started as usual with celebrities traversing through the red carpet, and later giving interviews. At the same time thousands of protesters marched through Hollywood demanding an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Some celebrities on the carpet shared this sentiment, wearing red pins to show their alliance with the group "Artist4Ceasefire". In an open letter, Artist4Ceasefire are urging President Biden and members of Congress to immediately de-escalate and ceasefire in Gaza, and as they state: “The pin symbolizes collective support for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all of the hostages and for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza,". When Mark Ruffalo arrived at the gala he rejoiced “The Palestinian protest just shut down the Oscars tonight. Humanity wins!”. Eventually, the protest was shut down reflecting the unfairness and conflicting views in Hollywood towards the war. Award ceremonies are a chance for so-called 'ordinary people' to fully revel in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood through a TV screen, but far more importantly, these ceremonies give the attendees a unique opportunity to vocalise their support to overlooked and simultaneously pressing global issues. 

Over the years, the Oscars has been losing the viewership it once had, pushing The Academy to make some changes. The gala was around two hours shorter and it started much earlier. On top of that, the little extras in the design of the Dolby Theater could’ve been spotted by a watchful eye such as light effects. Another change was the transformation of the announcements of Best Leading roles where instead of one actor giving an award there were four of them. It made it less awkward for some, especially in comparison to Al Pacino’s Best Picture announcement that got a sharp look from Robert De Niro. This year’s Memoriam was perhaps a bit pretentious, but in the end, I quite enjoyed the performance of 2x Bocelli’s “Time To Say Goodbye”. However, the standout moments of the night were the arrival of the Anatomy of A Fall’s star, Messi the dog, and the incredible performance from Ryan Gosling in “I’m Just Ken”. The ceremony couldn’t be the same without some funny, and less funny, jokes and some surprises such as John Cena running around naked, who announced the Best Costume award as a quote from the gala that took place fifty years ago.

There were a few disappointments as well, such as only one award for Barbie (which made history after Billie Elish won the Oscar for the Best Original Song “What I Was Made For” along with her brother Finneas O’Connell, making her the youngest two-time Oscar winner). Fans and critics alike were shocked by the ongoing indignation towards Gerwig's and Robbie's Barbie, with the multi-billion-dollar-grossing film missing out on any nominations. Oppenheimer however, Barbie's long-joked rival, walked out with seven statuettes, ending the Barbenheimer era victorious. On the other hand, have you ever heard about Wes Anderson? Yes, the Wes Anderson, just won his first Oscar! It was for a short film which is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. He wasn’t the only one whose first Oscar might be a surprise, Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., and Christopher Nolan also took took home their first Oscars. It was also the first time for Japan’s Best Visual Effects for 'Godzilla Minus One'. Most importantly, director Mstyslav Chernov won the first ever Oscar for his native country Ukraine for his film 20 Days In Mariupol​​. It was one of only two speeches that mentioned the current Gaza and/or Ukraine conflicts, along with the director of Auschwitz-set film The Zone of Interest, Jonathan Glazer, who called for an end to the Gaza attacks. 

Some say that the Oscars are not the same, but I feel that this chaotic night will definitely stay in my mind for years to come. I believe that the mentioning of the wars was crucial, and I’m pleased that the conflicts were visibly marked in opposition to this year’s Golden Globes. However, in the end, watching Gosling's performance and celebrity camaraderie in my room till the late hours of the morning transported me back to feeling fifteen once again. Despite the changes and the contention in the world currently, the Oscars will always have the magic ability to celebrate cinema in a profound way. And with that sentiment, it is time to move on and see what new movies 2024 has up its sleeve…

Words: Misia Kozanecka, she/her

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