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Green Book and actors Malek and King among those taking home Oscars
by Matt Simonette
2019-02-25

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The 91st Academy Awards, despite one of the most tumultuous lead-ups in the Motion Picture Academy's recent history, was nevertheless a streamlined, relatively-quick affair that delivered several surprises on feb. 24.

Several entertainment pundits and critics were largely unable to make a prediction for Best Picture in the weeks before the ceremony. The Academy's ultimate pick, Green Book, did stir up some controversy afterwords; a number of actors and production personnel of color were honored throughout the evening, so choosing Peter Farrelly's film—from a largely-white production team—seemed for some some critics to be a throwback.

Among those who won Academy Awards for LGBT characters were Mahershala Ali, named Best Supporting Actor for portraying Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book and Rami Malek, for his turn as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. In his speech, Malek noted the importance of the positive reception for a major studio-produced film depicting the life of a gay man who was also an immigrant: "It's proof that we're longing for stories like this."

The Best Supporting Actress Oscar went to Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk, which was adapted by writer-director Barry Jenkins ( Moonlight ) from gay writer James Baldwin's fifth novel of the same name. Olivia Colman won Best Actress for The Favourite; that accolade came as a shock to many, as some critics expected Glenn Close to take the Oscar home for The Wife. Colman seemed to be among them—her seemingly shellshocked reaction delighted the audience.

Two notable wins among creative personnel were Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler, who won for Black Panther's costume design and production design respectively; they were the first Black women ever to win in those categories. Carter acknowledged director Spike Lee in her remarks. Lee, in the audience thanks to his film BlacKkKlansman's four nominations, gave Carter her start with his second feature, School Daze.

Lee won his first Oscar for co-writing BlacKkKlansman's script. Barbra Streisand introduced a clip from that film to herald its Best Picture nomination.

Among the musical performances Feb. 24 were Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sharing the stage for the song Shallow, from Cooper's A Star is Born remake, and Bette Midler, who performed The Place Where Lost Things Go from Mary Poppins Returns accompanied by her frequent collaborator, Marc Shaiman. Shaiman, who is gay, composed Mary Poppins Returns' score. Jennifer Hudson also performed the song I'll Fight from the film RBG.


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