The Academy Awards Review

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The historic Fox Theater, not to be confused with the Dolby Theater where the Oscars take place

Kaia McNeely

The 2020 Academy Awards went without a host again, but the show was opened by an exquisite performance by Janelle Monae and an opening dialogue between two-time Academy Award host Chris Rock and Academy Award winner Steve Martin.

 

During Monae’s opening number, the dancers paid stylistic tribute to movies like “Us,” “Dolemite is My Name” and “Queen & Slim”: movies telling African-American stories and earning no nominations. During her number, Monae proudly introduced herself as a black, queer, artist telling stories after previously coming out. She also acknowledged the lack of female nominations for the Best Director category.

 

Before finally introducing Regina King to present the first award, Martin and Rock came out for a hit-or-hiss. Lacking a single host, there was a huge number of presenters, including Beanie Feldstein, who introduced Mindy Kaling; George MacKay introducing Olivia Colman; and Anthony Ramos introducing Lin-Manuel Miranda, who introduced a montage of Eminem’s work. And, of course, Kelly Marie Tran introduced Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton, which is relatively major compared to what Tran got to do in “Rise of Skywalker.”

 

There were two presenters who made the event stand out from all other Oscar ceremonies: the hilarious Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. They took the stage to present the awards for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. During the first portion of their presentation, the two did a skit showcasing their talents in drama, saying that they do more than comedy by showcasing their ability to cry on cue and fake an argument on stage. This skit was ultimately one of the more comedic moments of the night. And, yet, they managed to outdo themselves when they presented Best Costume Design. Instead of a skit, they sang a medley relating to costumes before presenting the awards.

 

Despite the hilarious skits, intriguing numbers, and great speeches, there was one awkward moment involving Brie Larson, Gal Gadot, and acting legend Sigourney Weaver. Although it was nice when Monae, Martin, and Rock acknowledged the lack of female representation in the Best Directing category, corporate feminism can become infuriating after a while once it becomes clearly about appealing to young women to continue watching the show rather than truly sending an empowering message. Although it was nice when the first female conductor in Oscar history received a standing ovation after the number, which was followed by another history-making Oscar win when Hildur Guonadottir won for Best Original Score.

 

Yet, “Parasite” made history as the first international film to win for Best Picture. Although most people, including me, were hoping for Martin Scorsese to win for Best Director, it was nice to see that not all Oscar winning directors have to be old, straight, white men. It is infuriating that Kathryn Bigelow was still the only woman to win Best Director, in 2008 for “The Hurt Locker.” The Academy Awards have been running since 1929.

 

Although the star-studded event featured many memorable faces, funny lines, moving performances, and great speeches, the corporate feminism and the use of female presenters — Sandra Oh, Kaling, Diane Keaton, Weaver, to name a few — to conceal the hidden sexism was just too infuriating.