OPINION: The unexpected bearableness of Oscars 2020

Herman Eloff, News24’s Lifestyle and Entertainment Editor, gives his hot take on Oscar night 2020.

OPINION

The Oscars has made headlines and history before and mostly it finds itself on the wrong side of both. Last year’s show, the first without a host, was hardly memorable.

So, I had very little hope for the award show that has become as predictably bland and vanilla as its nominee list. With top categories dominated by white men and films exploring mostly white or white male narratives, there was little hope that Oscars 2020 would be anything but average.

But then snuck in a masterpiece that stole the heart of everyone that watched it across the world and killed off 92 years of dusty snobbery in one powerful swoop.

Parasite, directed by Bong Joon Ho, is the first non-English language film ever to win the Oscar for Best Film – a category that was on Sunday night filled with Hollywood’s elite including Scorsese, Mendes, and Tarantino.

When asked by Netwerk24 last week which film I think would win the golden statuette this year, I said with a fistful of confidence that Parasite would walk away as the champs – despite knowing all too well that the Oscars is usually a very anticlimactic end to a very dragged out award season.

But this year as I watched the live broadcast at 03:00, I weirdly found myself thinking; “Wait, this is actually watchable”.

Janelle Monáe’s powerful opener was a proudly black and queer moment that set the tone for the night. The singer-songwriter didn’t hold back as they* pointed out the lack of diversity in the room in both race and gender and paid homage to those snubbed by the very award show they were opening for.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: Writer-direct

(FULL BLOOM: Janelle Monáe performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Then Chris Rock and Steve Martin appeared on stage and took some jabs at the A-list guests in the room in a funny yet classy way. It was witty with a punch, without crossing the line into vulgar humiliation. Ricky Gervais can really take some pointers here.

Without a host to tie it all together it was up to the presenters to keep the show’s energy levels on a high, and they delivered. Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig showed why they could host this whole dang thing blindfolded. Despite Billie Eilish’s look of confusion from her seat in the crowd, the two SNL legends had everyone in stitches.

Fellow SNL alumni Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell gave spice to the sometimes-overlooked categories of Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. The duo was hilarious with their creative take on what exactly they love and don’t love about the aforementioned industry roles.

Then there was James Corden and Rebel Wilson who came out in their full Cats garb to present…wait for it…Best Visual Effects. Poor souls. But it was well worth the humiliation for our entertainment.

The only time the show really fell flat was when the Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and Best Actress (Renée Zellweger) winners gave impassioned speeches that didn’t hit the mark and left everyone in the audience kind of zoned out. Boring. Next.

By far the crowning moment of the night was left for last when Jane Fonda announced Parasite as the Oscars 2020 Best Film. It was a triumph, a fist in the air, an underdog story come to life, a well-deserved win that will never be forgotten.

Okay Oscar, old mate. I’ll give you this one.

READ NEXT: All the 2020 Oscar winners

(If you missed the Oscars 2020 live broadcast you can catch the re-broadcast at 21:00 on M-Net, DStv 101)

*Janelle is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them.