The 2019 Academy Awards were something of an anomaly: This year’s awards were the first to forego a host since 1989 after controversy surrounding Kevin Hart’s old tweets precluded his candidacy.
The 2018 awards drew an all-time low of 26.6 million viewers—a 19 percent dip from the 2017 ceremony and a nearly 40 percent plummet from a high of 43 million viewers in 2014.
Many expected this year’s ratings to tank, though they took an unexpected 11 percent upswing, securing 29.6 million viewers in the 18 to 49 age demographic.
With ABC charging $2.5 million for 30-second ads during the ceremony and a deal worked out to keep the Oscars on the network through 2028 (with Disney dishing out $75 million per year to the Academy for the rights to broadcast the Oscars), this year’s ratings bump was manna from heaven.
After significant public backlash, ABC reversed its proposals to change the show’s telecast format, including its proposal to add a widely ridiculed “Best Popular Film” award, drop several song performances and do non-live presentations for certain categories.
Palisadian Caleb Deschanel, who was nominated in the Best Cinematography category for the film “Never Look Away,” skewered the Academy in an open letter after the organization announced it would move four awards in Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live-Action Short to commercial breaks. The Academy later reversed its decision.
Deschanel’s famous daughters, Emily and Zooey, came to the awards ceremony to support their father.
“Sister Emily and I on our way to the Oscars! Getting ready to root for our dad!” Zooey tweeted on February 24, garnering 656,000 likes.
Caleb Deschanel’s next big project is the upcoming live-action version of “Lion King” slated for release in July.
This year’s Academy Awards also featured no comedic skits, though it did include a performance from rock band Queen, who played “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” with special guest singer Adam Lambert.
Palisadian Bradley Cooper also took the stage with pop-star Lady Gaga for a duet of the Oscar-winning song “Shallow” from Cooper’s 2019 remake of “A Star Is Born.”
The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing, and also earned Cooper and actor Sam Elliott nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.
Lady Gaga would win the award for Best Actress for her performance as Ally in the film.
Cooper’s steamy duet with Gaga had fans speculating if the romance between the two was strictly on-screen, though Gaga shut rumors down when she appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” rolling her eyes at the notion.
“People saw love, and guess what—that’s what we wanted you to see … This is a love song … ‘A Star Is Born’ is a love story … I’m an artist, and guess we did a good job, and fooled ya!” Gaga said.
Palisades Charter High School alum Peter Ramsey became the first African-American winner of the Best Animated Feature award for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
Five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who got her start at the Pierson Playhouse in Pacific Palisades, was nominated this year for her performance as Lynne Cheney in “Vice.”
This year’s ceremony, which clocked in at 20 minutes over the promised three-hour mark, provided little in the way of memorable moments, save for Spike Lee’s lemur-like leap into the arms of Samuel Jackson (and his back-turning snub when the award for Best Picture went to “Green Book”).
There was also Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree’s playful presentation of the Best Costume Design award, which had the audience cackling as they approached the microphone in ostentatiously long-trained Victorian dresses (frankly, not too dissimilar from winner Ruth E. Carter’s outfit).
The Academy is struggling to reach a symbiosis between mass appeal and critical integrity with the Oscars. The nomination of “Black Panther” for Best Picture drew ire from film buffs who perceived it as a cheapening of the award category, while others thought the idea of a Most Popular Film award was antithetical to the idea of the Oscars in general.
With the looming future of streaming services replacing big studios, one wonders if the host-less Oscars is not symptomatic of a greater change in Hollywood—a “new normal.”