'Like Halle Berry versus gum disease': nine things we learned at the 2020 Oscars

Brad Pitt got political, the Cats cast got their claws out and Eminem’s appearance left everyone confused

Joaquin Phoenix went full vegan

After Phoenix’s speech at the Baftas, in which he said that it was incumbent on the dominant culture to increase representation of minorities in the film industry, many were expecting something on a similar theme. But his Oscars speech went much further. Beginning with the uncontroversial view that people like him should “use our voice for the voiceless”, Phoenix went on to say that humans’ disconnection from the natural world makes us feel “entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal”. It must be one of the most high-profile avowals of veganism there has ever been.

Bong Joon-ho ruled the night

The South Korean director ran an Oscars campaign based on gently poking voters about their US-centric worldview. “The Oscars are not an international film festival,” he ribbed at one point. “They’re very local.” His other tactic was a full-on charm offensive, with his interpreter Sharon Choi becoming a star in her own right as she helped Bong navigate the late-night talkshow circuit. On Oscars night, his fanbase – the “Bong Hive” – were busy on Twitter and the man himself roused the audience with his tribute to America’s finest: “When I was young and starting in cinema there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart which is, ‘The most personal is the most creative.’ That quote was from our great Martin Scorsese.”

Parasite, which has taken $40m at the US box office could be a bellwether for a more-outward looking Academy – although this is the same voting body that picked Green Book last year, so it’s anyone’s guess what will happen in 12 months’ time.

James Corden and Rebel Wilson put the boot into Cats

The pair awarded the prize for best special effects dressed in Cats costumes and announcing: “As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects.” It got a big laugh – although probably not in the home of Tom Hooper, the film’s director.

The In Memoriam section still can’t get it right

There was no mention of Cameron Boyce, the Disney star who died aged 20 after suffering a seizure due to epilepsy in June and who played one of Adam Sandler’s sons in the film Grown Ups. Luke Perry was another notable omission. The former star of Beverly Hills 90210 died in March aged 52, and even appeared in one of the night’s nominated films, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.

Eminem’s surprise guest slot was baffling

As if to confirm that the numbers up for best original song weren’t up to much this year, Eminem appeared for no apparent reason and blasted through Lose Yourself, his Oscar-winning song from 8 Mile back in 2003. He hadn’t performed it, or even turned up, that year but this time he performed the tune sporting an alarming black beard as the audience nodded their heads – with the exception of Scorsese, who merely seemed to be nodding off.

Martin Scorsese reacts to Eminem's "Lose Yourself" performance #Oscars pic.twitter.com/ic1XeJPmSf

— MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS) February 10, 2020

Taika Waititi has broken new ground

First of all, he’s the first Māori film-maker to win an Oscar – a fact he nodded to when he dedicated his awards to “all the indigenous kids all over the world who want to do art and dance and write stories … we are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well”. Second, he gave the first land acknowledgment speech the ceremony has ever seen, saying: “The Academy would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash. We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works.”

Yes @TaikaWaititi!!!! #Oscars2020 pic.twitter.com/X8vp4ydgHG

— cherrywaves (@heather28df) February 10, 2020

Chris Rock is in no doubt on the question of Ford v Ferrari

“I’ve got both and it ain’t even close,” said the comic at the top of the awards. “It’s like Halle Berry versus gum disease.”

Brad Pitt can do politics

He has been acclaimed all awards season for his witty and charming speeches, but Pitt added some political bite at the Oscars with a nod to the thwarted impeachment of Trump. “They told me I only have 45 seconds up here,” he said. “Which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.”

Billie Eilish made everyone feel old

When asked on the red carpet about the films she’d grown up with, Eilish mentioned The Babadook – released in 2014. And when Eminem came out to perform a song released when she wasn’t even a year old, she could not have looked more bemused.

What a reaction to Eminem from Billie Eilish. #Oscars pic.twitter.com/h0eS0ZgflR

— Lights, Camera, Pod (@LightsCameraPod) February 10, 2020


Alex Needham

The GuardianTramp

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