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  • Writer's pictureBryce Chismire

96th Oscars Recap

I may be late into the game, but here goes.

Another Oscar season has come and gone, and like many other Oscar ceremonies before it, it came with plenty of surprises, some of which films reigned supreme and others that occurred onstage. Thankfully, there was nary a major snub I can think of that happened.

Let’s start with what occurred onstage. In a reportedly awkward yet hilarious transition, Jimmy Kimmel referenced the outcome at the 46th Oscars in 1974 when Robert Opel ran behind David Niven. And wouldn’t you know it? Jimmy Kimmel asked John Cena to come out to the stage, and he emerged entirely in the buff with only his Oscar envelope covering his private areas. And to add to the humor surrounding this scenario, the Oscar he was about to present was for Best Costume Design. The next thing I knew, after the nominees were announced, and as he prepared to announce the winner, the costuming crew came in and hastily wrapped him in a lady’s dress, thus allowing him to finally open the envelope. That was a weird turn of events, but no less funny to watch. I remember reading how nervous Jimmy Kimmel was about this skit when worrying about the ABC censors, so it makes this scene feel even more hilarious.

Surprisingly, Some other highlights throughout the Oscars included the performances of the nominees for Best Original Song. We get some lovely performances by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell for ‘What Was I Made For?’ from Barbie, and just watching these two sing side by side and surrounded by all the soft-colored lighting makes the performance feel more transcendent.

In a surprise entry, the native tribal dancers arrived to perform the song’ Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)’ from Killers of the Flower Moon on their beating drum, and the outcome looked like I was present to watch an authentic tribal dance. I was not expecting to see that on stage, but I guess, in the case of the movie, that tells me how much research Martin Scorsese and his crew had done to craft a legitimate masterpiece concerning Native American welfare.

Becky G’s performance as she sang ‘The Fire Inside’ with a choir of children gathering behind her as they partook in the song felt mesmerizing to watch, too. It was partially because of the dances, the rhythms, and the equally fiery backgrounds behind them. I’ve not seen Flamin’ Hot, but Becky G’s vocals, background visuals, and overall presentation felt generally spirited.

In my opinion, however, the most memorable performance among the nominees for Best Original Song was ‘I’m Just Ken,’ also from Barbie. As Ryan Gosling got up to perform the number with some of his fellow actors who may have starred as additional Kens, once the song got going in all its extravagant moments, the entire number was masterfully performed by Ryan Gosling, and the whole number looked like a splashy Broadway musical number. It carried the same spontaneous and splashy expressions as in the movie, and I could tell that Ryan Gosling and his fellow co-dancers were having a ball in this number.

But now, let’s look at the nominees and who walked away with some Oscar gold.

To start, after all the nominees for Best Song were announced and performed at the Oscars, the award went to ‘What Was I Made For?’ from Barbie. Outside of the lovely duet performed from that song, I was pleased to see Barbie walk home with some glimmer of Oscar gold with them. Considering this song’s universally applicable message and themes, I felt that it was the right Oscar for Barbie to have earned.

In fact, in addition to Barbie winning the Oscar for Best Song, Ludwig Göransson also walked home with the Oscar for Best Original Score. Something about it felt pleasant, like I witnessed the Barbenheimer phenomenon get shared recognition over one field of filmmaking, which would’ve been the musical score for Oppenheimer and the songs for Barbie. So, that felt nice to watch and see.

Onto the Best Visual Effects, all the nominees had outstanding effects, from The Creator, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning: Part One, Napoleon, and the surprise nominee, Godzilla: Minus One. Having watched all the nominees in theaters, each film’s effects blew me away, but I was secretly hoping to see if Godzilla: Minus One would make it because I found the visuals of the monster in this film quite staggering and genuinely adding to the horrific nature of the movie. When the movie did win its Oscar, I felt proud on the inside. Not only did I think that they earned that Oscar, but this was a historic turn of events, for the film became the first Godzilla to garner an Oscar nomination and the first film to win that award. Godzilla: Minus One was a phenomenal movie whose presentation of Godzilla feels more reminiscent of the Godzilla of the 1950s than that of modern times, so the VFX team earned their Oscar here.

Speaking of historic moments, let’s look at how the race for Best Supporting Actor went down. The Oscar winner was Robert Downey, Jr., which was also historic because it was his first ever Oscar. And I was legitimately impressed and surprised that it was. Given his untidy reputation in Hollywood in the 1990s and 2000s and considering how much of a comeback he made after playing Iron Man, this Oscar felt like it was long overdue and that it makes for a good consolation prize for what he endured and what he graced to make such a comeback and prove himself as the worthy actor he is.

What I did not see coming, however, was the turnout concerning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. For the past several months, I have been anticipating the winner of this Oscar to be Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, mainly because of how it took the formula of the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and took it in all-new directions. But instead, the Oscar went to Hayao Miyazaki’s newest film, The Boy and the Heron. The last time I heard of Hayao Miyazaki and his work, he seemingly considered The Wind Rises to be his last film before retirement. But instead, he went forth and made this film, which opened to outstandingly good reviews. Well, I can see just how good they were because outside of The Boy and the Heron, the only other Oscar Miyazaki ever won was for Spirited Away, which was commonly declared one of his all-time best movies, period. So, this was unexpected, but now, considering my soft spot for Kiki’s Delivery Service and how big of a fan I am of Princess Mononoke, I’m looking forward to giving this film a watch and seeing what it is about it that makes it such a masterpiece.

Also, just like I feel with actors like Bill Murray or Harrison Ford or musicians like NSYNC after reuniting to do ‘Better Place’ for Trolls Band Together, this Oscar win proves one thing true: art knows no age. And it only shows the level of commitment some artists have to their craft, as I can now see from Hayao Miyazaki.

Not only that but even though Japan did not win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, man, did it strike gold in the other categories I mentioned!

I almost sat down and bit my nails over the crafts categories because, like with Best Visual Effects, I’ve seen in theaters all the nominees for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.

First, walking home with the Oscars for Best Production Design, Costume Design (after the naked bit, of course), and Best Makeup and Hairstyling was Poor Things. I was not surprised, considering how surreal, imaginative, and wackily structured they were.

Second, it made me wonder: how would things have turned out for Best Actress? Secretly, I hoped to see Lily Gladstone win it for her performance as Mollie Burkhart in Killers of the Flower Moon. But apparently, the Oscar went instead to Emma Stone, which I was not surprised…or unhappy to see. Having Seen Poor Things in theaters, like I said, it must not have been easy to play a woman who was brought back to life with the brain of her undead child and gradually grew up learning about adult desires and growing up to be her own person regardless of what she was born or reborn with. And to me, Emma Stone played that kind of role to perfection. So, I feel like she earned it as well.

And third, as for the technical Oscars, that’s where it paved the way for a truly momentous occasion at the Oscars. But first, let me tell you this: outside of The Boy and the Heron winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, I was legitimately dumbfounded by the results of the Oscar for Best Sound. I was legitimately expecting Oppenheimer to win because the sounds I heard from this movie pertaining to the war physics and the weird-sounding scientific noises that brewed forth, especially in Oppenheimer’s mind, felt like it was bound to snag some Oscar gold. Instead, that Oscar went to The Zone of Interest. Since I’ve not seen that movie as of this writing, I have no idea what it did to have earned it, but you would think that a film about war or the atomic bomb like Oppenheimer would’ve walked home with that specific Oscar.

As for everything else, however, that’s where the stage was slowly but surely set for Oppenheimer. Outside of Robert Downey Jr.’s Oscar win, Hoyte van Hoytema won his Oscar for Best Cinematography, as did Jennifer Lame for Best Film Editing. The movie took the world by storm with its last three victories: Best Actor for Cillian Murphy, Best Director for Christopher Nolan, and ultimately, Best Picture.

For a movie subject to the Barbenheimer phenomenon in 2023, it felt so rejuvenating to watch this gloriously haunting movie clean up some of its Oscars for all it achieved in 2023. What makes it even more impressive, outside of Christopher Nolan getting his due recognition at the Oscars with this victorious turn of events, is that it makes Oppenheimer the first blockbuster film to have won the Oscar for Best Picture since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 20 years ago. You can say this broke the indie Best Picture curse since, over the last twenty years or so, many of the winners for Best Picture were generally Indie films or just performed modestly at the box office. But with Oppenheimer, after grossing over $900 million at the box office before the end of the year, this proves how the Best Pictures of the Year are confined to just that: being the best picture, no matter how much money it made or what its reputation is like. All that matters is how well it told its story and blew audiences away with what it offered. So, I’m tickled to See Oppenheimer recognized as such.

And with all that out of the way, I can’t wait to see what the following Best Pictures of 2024 will be like…even though seven times out of 10, they will be sequels, remakes, or spinoffs of previously established franchises. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any outstanding movies among them that deserve such recognition, however. Case in point: Dune: Part Two is off to an incredible start and is already looked at as an automatic first entry into the Oscar for Best Picture of 2024, so that’s an excellent way to start.

In addition, we have plenty of sequels to look forward to, including Inside Out 2, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Moana 2, and even Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, the sequel to the classic Tim Burton movie with Michael Keaton. So, whatever may come this year in 2024, let’s embrace with open arms the films – and extra chapters – that come forth with exceptional artistic merits to match their potential.

Have fun at the movies, and I’ll see you next year, Oscar!

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