While 2016's Oscars ceremony may end up going down as one of the best in recent years, it isn't like it was without any faults. Like most years, you have to take the good with the bad, and this year featured some noteworthy standouts. The following is a rundown of the 10 moments form the ceremony that were a little cringe-worthy and maybe will be the butt of jokes for when people think back on this year's Oscars. Is Sam Smith solely to blame for it, especially after he said that it was the worst night of his life? Not exactly, but his dozens of red flags definitely don't help either. He's just one problem in a series of problems.
1. Stacey Dash
It is hard for an appearance so short to have so much vitriol, but host Chris Rock figured it out when bringing on Stacey Dash to wave and say "Happy black history month." While the night was already too heavily on the nose about diversity, it still felt confusing and wrong to have Dash even be there following her asinine comments regarding The B.E.T. Awards. She is a joke that most people have forgotten about in the past month, and she rightfully so got a resounding shrugged shoulders from everyone in the room.
2. Amy wins Best Documentary
What is going on with the Best Documentary category, seriously? Every year there seems to be hard hitting movies that show the format evolving in compelling ways. This year, The Look of Silence was shut out in favor of a documentary on Amy Winehouse. While the late artist is not without her merit, there's something damning about choosing a celebrity documentary as opposed to something that tells an important story. Speaking as Joshua Oppenheimer as also shut out for The Act of Killing a few years back, this category needs to get its priorities together and stop just going for the easy subjects. It's embarrassing how predictable it was to see popularity trump art yet again in this field.
3. Alicia Vikander wins Best Supporting Actress
It was a year packed with memorable performances. There was Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs. Rachel McAdams in Spotlight. Rooney Mara in Carol. Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight. There were no slouches in the Best Supporting Actress category... except Alicia Vikander. Speaking as The Danish Girl was a milquetoast movie to begin with, Vikander's dominance in this category makes little sense, especially since she is both a victim of category fraud and is actually the title character of the film. While Vikander had a great 2015, it would be hard to find anyone who would consider The Danish Girl to be her best film (even Ex Machina or The Man From U.N.C.L.E. probably beat it). It's a dull performance that beat four more worthy roles, which is very, very confusing.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio wins Best Actor
This has been a touchy subject for me during the entire awards season. Beyond just believing that what Leonardo DiCaprio did was called stunt performing, it was an award that felt predicated on some unearned belief that the internet has that he deserves a trophy. This is a legacy win, and it's not even for a great role (arguably his least interesting in a decade). While I am glad to hear the chatter stop about how overdue he is for a trophy, I am worried that the memes will evolve into another annoying trope for DiCaprio. Speaking as how few people cared that Ennio Morricone (who is twice DiCaprio's age) won his first competitive Oscar, this bias makes no sense and is itself obnoxious bandwagon material.
5. Two banned Best Original Song nominees
Let's face it. I'm very glad to hear that The Oscars were talking a lot about diversity this year. However, there was a sense that they stuck their foot in their own mouth by excluding not one, but two Oscar nominees from performing. The first was Sumi Jo, who was excluded from the broadcast due to not being "popular" enough, though one could easily recognize that Sumi Jo is Asian. In a year where complaints of diversity are rampant, it seems pretty bad to kick off your one Asian nominee. Meanwhile, Anohni declined to show up following belief that she was also not being allowed to perform. Considering that she is one of the first transgender nominees in history, it only makes things look worse. Of course, there was no Chris Rock jokes about the missing Asians or transgender artists - just a joke that Asians are very good at math.
6. Lady GaGa performs "Till It Happens to You"
This may be misconceived as an insult towards the actual performance. However, it's more of a complaint towards Lady GaGa, who was a distracting force from the powerful moments. Considering how distracting the constant camera shifts were, the number was unnecessarily boastful from her end as she swung like Ray Charles and ruined the somber attitude with her own passion. While the camera would learn to focus on the powerful imagery that was the survivors walking on stage, there was still that sense that Lady GaGa was trying to take away the focus, especially with her more than suspicious choice to always sing to the camera. Was it a great sentiment? Yes, especially with Joe Biden doing an introduction. However, it was a performance in which Lady GaGa just needed to take a backseat for awhile and let the moment resonate.
7. Girl Scout Cookies
Food at the Oscars is going to always be a touchy subject for me. It hasn't been that long since Ellen Degeneres slammed the ceremony to a halt by handing out pizza slices to everyone at the show. In a way, the choice to have Chris Rock and a Girl Scout troop sell cookies at the show is just as obnoxious, even though it was handled a lot better. The narcissism that comes with Rock using his famous buddies to break sales records is just awful. A note to all hosts in the future: please don't sell food of any kind outside of the lobby. The commercials during the ceremony are bad enough. We don't need to see celebrities buying garbage on TV in tuxes.
8-10. Sam Smith
In case you missed the pull quote from the ceremony, Oscar winner Sam Smith has admitted that the performance was the worst moment of his life. To summarize the performance, it was an unflattering rendition of Spectre theme song "The Writing's on the Wall." He was the first performer of the night and one could easily describe his rendition as being very sleepy and nasally, even sometimes poorly mixed in the studio. Of the three that evening, it was the one that was least memorable and did nothing that was at all James Bond-y, with Sarah Silverman's explicit lead-in being far more engaging.
It doesn't help that the Best Original Song category was just uninspired this year with every song being particularly mediocre. Anyone's loss wasn't much of a loss, since it was a contest of the less boring evil. Even then, many are likely annoyed that Smith beat out the Golden Girl of awards shows Lady GaGa (she has practically performed at any venue with a door in the past month). Considering that it followed her rousing performance, it already seemed like an underwhelming way to end the award.
Still, the most memorable moment of the night seems to be Smith's acceptance speech. It isn't because of anything thought provoking, but because of how he didn't check his facts. During his acceptance speech, he mentioned that he was the first openly gay Oscar winner. Just to mention, Best Adapted Screenplay winner of last year Graham Moore was openly gay and made a note of it in his speech. However, there's been a ton of openly gay winners, including Dustin Lance Black, who took Smith to task on Twitter over those comments. For those that need reference, Smith got this idea from an article by Ian McKellen which correctly noted that no openly gay ACTORS have won an Oscar. So yes, Smith is probably the biggest loser of the night, even if he was the ultimate winner.
|Cate Blanchett in Carol|
That is it for Oscar Season 2015 coverage. I hope that you enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing you all throughout the downtime as I continue to do coverage of Oscars history and any additional updates on rule changes and potential nominees. Thanks for making it an enjoyable season and stay tuned for my open letter better detailing my in-between plans. Special thanks to commenter BlueFox94 who has provided some lively conversations (I will watch Shaun the Sheep eventually, I promise) over this season and has corrected my mistakes on more than one occasion. I hope to have more lively interaction in the season to come. Until then, take a break and enjoy the down time before we get into more heated debates about movies.