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The best and worst moments of the 2020 Oscars

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The 92nd Academy Awards were chaos. 

On Sunday night, Eminem, Bustopher Jones, the cast of Something’s Gotta Give, four-time Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho, and a few dozen other celebs took centerstage to celebrate 2019 in cinema. It was a rotating door of musical numbers, bits, thank yous, and confusion that was meme-worthy at best and boring at worst. (Seriously, Martin Scorsese looked like he was falling asleep.) 

So, what to remember from the biggest night in Hollywood? Here’s a look at the best and worst moments of the 2020 Oscars. Read the complete list of winners and nominees here

Best: Janelle Monáe’s show-stopping opening

Janelle Monáe kicked the night off with a rendition of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (complete with red cardigan) that morphed into a spectacular send-up of the Academy. 

Surrounded by dancers wearing costumes from snubbed films — including Us, Midsommar, Dolemite Is My Name, and more — Monáe voiced her support for underrepresented artists. In one particularly blistering line, she shouted, “It’s time to come alive because the Oscars is so white.”

It was relevant, it was fun, it was the best the show got all night. 

Worst: Shia LaBeouf misreading The Neighbor’s Window

The Peanut Butter Falcon co-stars Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf announced the live-action short film nominees flawlessly. But when it came time to say the winner, things got rocky.

Gottsagen teed up the announcement with the “and the Oscar goes to” bit. Then, LaBeouf triumphantly announced “The Neighbor’s Widow” — seemingly misreading the actual winning title, The Neighbor’s Window. Whoops. 

Best: “Into the Unknown,” performed by an international cast of Elsas 

Since its November release, Disney’s Frozen II has been translated into 45 languages. So it seems fitting that Idina Menzel be joined by the voices of Elsas from around the world on awards night. Nominated for Best Original Song, “Into the Unknown” was one of the more theatrical performances of the night, bringing an avalanche of talent to the stage. The power ballad came with moving set pieces, shimmery lighting, and some icy gowns. Brava!

Worst: All the “jokes” about inclusion

At a certain point, joking about all the women and people of color who weren’t nominated for Oscars stops being funny and starts being an excuse. 

Sure, Chris Rock’s opening wisecrack was fine. But when presenter after presenter hit on the same tone-deaf sentiment, it started to feel like the awards show was giving itself a tongue-in-cheek pass. Do better?

Best: Brad Pitt’s impeachment hearings jab

Receiving the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pitt thanked the Academy for the honor. Then, he quipped: “They told me I only have 45 seconds to give this speech, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.” The remark, referencing the decision to not allow witness testimony in Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, was met with applause. 

Pitt added, “I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it and in the end, the adults do the right thing.” Scathing, topical, and pretty funny. Five stars!

Best: Diane and Keanu’s Something’s Gotta Give reunion 

Something's Gotta Give 2: Best Picture 2021

Something’s Gotta Give 2: Best Picture 2021

Image: ABC via Getty Images

During an unusual and charming presentation of Best Original Screenplay, Something’s Gotta Give stars Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves flirted up a storm. 

They remembered their iconic rom-com fondly, told each other they were “amazing,” and gave Nancy Meyers fans hope that somewhere out there Julian and Erica did end up together. It was magic. Pure, weird, movie magic.

Best/Worst: Eminem’s inexplicable “Lose Yourself” performance 

What. Are. We. Celebrating.

What. Are. We. Celebrating.

Image: ABC via Getty Images

In a celebration of great songs from movies, Eminem popped up halfway through the show to bust out his aught hit “Lose Yourself.” Some A-listers were stoked. Others were confused. Even more were confused, but also stoked!

Yes, the 8 Mile song won an Oscar 17 years ago. But why were we celebrating it tonight? Is there going to be a ninth Mile? An Eminem biopic? A lifetime achievement award for stuff that happened in 2002? 

We ask again: What. Was. Going. On. 

Best: Cats announcing Best Visual Effects 

God bless Universal Pictures.

Sure, the studio took a multimillion-dollar bath for Tom Hooper’s musical extravaganza to flop at the box office — but Cats was the content this awards season needed. When James Corden aka Bustopher Jones and Rebel Wilson aka Jennyanydots pounced on stage to paw aimlessly at a microphone and announce Best Visual Effects, our spirits lifted. It was what we wanted, it was we needed, it was the right choice. The right Jellicle choice. 

Best: Cynthia Erivo’s powerful performance of “Stand Up” 

Best Actress nominee Cynthia Erivo tore the house down.

Performing the Oscar-nominated “Stand Up” from Harriet, Erivo brought unparalleled passion to the Dolby Theater backed by a choir of talented vocalists dressed in gold. Neither Erivo nor “Stand Up” took home Oscars, but the performance cemented Harriet‘s legacy in cinematic history. 

Worst: The lack of a host 

Take this moment to think about all the time those producers had to fill with nonsense.

Take this moment to think about all the time those producers had to fill with nonsense.

Image: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

For a second year, the Academy Awards went sans host. Awards hosting is a notoriously thankless (and risky) job that last year’s ceremony seemingly proved wasn’t necessary. 

But this particular three-hour slog needed some kind of thread to tie it all together. There were speeches, musical numbers, bits, audience reacts, more bits, more audience reacts, even more musical numbers… but for a show all about storytelling, not a whole lot of story. 

It was a long night. At least Tina and Amy are back for the 2021 Golden Globes.

Best: Those stellar presenting duos 

Although a host was needed, a handful of standout presenting duos saved the night. 

Chris Rock and Steve Martin started the ceremony strong. Maya Rudolph and Kirsten Wiig auditioned for the entire Academy. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell (who joked that they had been the stars of 1917, Parasite, and Ford v Ferrari v Ferrell) spoke through nonexistent ear pieces. Ray Romano got bleeped, and Sandra Oh made it less awkward. Trophies all around! 

Best: “All women are superheroes.” 

Brie Larson (aka Captain Marvel), Sigourney Weaver (aka Ellen Ripley), and Gal Gadot (aka Wonder Woman) had the joy of introducing Eimear Noone, the Oscars’ first female conductor. 

While on stage, the trio joked about their shared history in action roles and invited all of Hollywood to join their recently founded fight club. They ended their remarks, saying, “all women are superheroes” — a sentiment embodied by Noone’s riveting performance soon after.

Best: Billie Eilish’s iconic react

The best and worst moments of the 2020 Oscars

Never before has a teen scowling been so well-appreciated

In attendance to sing for the in memoriam, Grammy winner Billie Eilish captured the internet’s heart when she seemingly misunderstood (and/or hated) a bit performed by Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. As Wiig and Rudolph confidently belted a mashup of clothing-themed songs to introduce Best Costume Design, Eilish made a very uncomfortable face that will live on in meme-famy. 

Best: Parasite‘s tear-inducing winning streak

Parasite may not have been the most-nominated movie going into the 2020 Oscars (that would be Joker), but it emerged as the biggest winner of the night. The South Korean film went on a tear, picking up Best Original Screenplay for Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, Best Director for Bong, Best International Feature, and, finally, Best Picture.

Its hot streak was all the more remarkable considering its country of origin: Parasite was the first South Korean film ever to be nominated in the International Feature category (formerly called Best Foreign Language Film), let alone win, and it was the first non-English-language movie ever to take the ceremony’s top prize.

Then again, perhaps we should’ve seen it coming all along — in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, the film had also performed well at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the BAFTA Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, and more. -Angie Han, Deputy Entertainment Editor

See all the winners and nominees from the night here.

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