92nd Oscars kick off in Hollywood with musical medley and politics

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Stuart Wilson, Mark Taylor and guests pose on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, on Feb. 9, 2020. (REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)
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Sigourney Weaver and her husband Jim Simpson pose on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California,on February 9, 2020. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
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Singer Billie Eilish (R) and her brother Finneas arrive for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on Feb. 9, 2020. (AFP / VALERIE MACON)
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Canadian actress Sandra Oh arrives for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on Feb. 9, 2020. (AFP / Robyn Beck)
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Updated 10 February 2020

92nd Oscars kick off in Hollywood with musical medley and politics

  • Oscars red carpet: Soft pink, basic black and some big statements

HOLLYWOOD, Los Angeles: The Oscars kicked off in Hollywood Sunday with a vibrant musical medley, a comedy bit from Steve Martin and Chris Rock — and a first acting Academy Award for veteran star Brad Pitt.Tinseltown’s biggest night is expected to see war epic “1917” battle South Korean thriller “Parasite” for glory, as a row swirls over the lack of minorities on the star-studded nominee list.

“We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films and I’m so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist,” singer Janelle Monae said pointedly as she led the spirited opening musical number with Billy Porter.

A-listers hit the red carpet under overcast skies at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre, where a lavish, spiral stage featuring 40,000 crystals provided the glittering setting where 24 golden statuettes will be handed out.




The Oscars kicked off with a vibrant musical medley, a comedy bit from Steve Martin and Chris Rock. (AFP)

Pitt, who sealed the first win of the night for best supporting actor in “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood,” struck a political tone.

“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” he said, in reference to President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

“1917,” Sam Mendes’s innovative and personal World War I film, swept up trophies in the build-up to Sunday, and is the frontrunner for multiple trophies including the night’s grand prize, best picture.

But the movie about two soldiers crossing no-man’s-land on a desperate mission — filmed to appear like one continuous shot — could find itself in a pitched battle with a movie determined to make history of its own.

“Parasite,” about a poor South Korean family infiltrating a wealthy household, looks to be a shoo-in for best international feature — but could win much more.

In fact, Bong scooped the prize for best original screenplay.




“Parasite,” about a poor South Korean family infiltrating a wealthy household, looks to be a shoo-in for best international feature. (AFP)

“This is very personal to South Korea,” he said.

“The big top prizes are coming down between ‘Parasite’ and ‘1917’,” Variety senior film editor Marc Malkin told AFP. “Either one winning would be pretty great.”

The unique ballot system for best picture — which involves voters ranking films — makes the race somewhat tough to predict.

But it could benefit “Parasite,” a film that appears impossible to dislike, and whose charismatic director Bong Joon-ho has gained cult status at Hollywood’s many awards season galas and soirees.

Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood” remains an outside shot, while Martin Scorsese’s lavish crime epic “The Irishman” appears to have slipped out of contention.

Recent deaths

The event’s luxury and glamor contrast with the grief enveloping Los Angeles over the recent deaths of Golden Age film legend Kirk Douglas and Oscar-winning basketball star Kobe Bryant.

Veteran director Spike Lee arrived in a purple jacket with lapels bearing the number 24, worn by the Lakers icon who was killed in a helicopter crash two weeks ago.

“Tribute. Honor. Homage. We all miss him,” said Lee.




Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash two weeks ago. (AFP)

Both Bryant and Douglas have been added to a hastily re-edited “in memoriam” montage honoring those Hollywood lost this year, with Billie Eilish expected to provide a moving musical accompaniment.

The record Grammy-winning singer, who will soon voice the new James Bond theme, is one of several high-profile musical guests on a night when all five nominated songs will be performed.




The event’s luxury and glamor contrast with the grief enveloping Los Angeles over the recent deaths of Golden Age film legend Kirk Douglas. (AFP)

Idina Menzel blasted out “Into the Unknown,” the song from “Frozen II,” with other singers who portray Elsa in foreign-languages version of the Disney film.

Elton John, tipped to win for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman,” will feature, as will Cynthia Erivo — the only non-white acting nominee, who also sang and wrote the theme to anti-slavery biopic “Harriet.”

All-male affair?

No female directors were nominated this year.

Natalie Portman, a best actress Oscar winner in 2011 for “Black Swan,” let her feelings about the lack of nominations for female filmmakers be known — she had their names stitched into the Dior cape she wore to the gala.




In 2011, Natalie Portman won best actress for “Black Swan.” (AFP)

Those names included Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers“), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell“), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women“) and Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighboorhood“).

“I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman told the Los Angeles Times.

Irish maestro Eimear Noone will become the first woman to conduct the Oscars orchestra, but diversity among guest hosts and performers is unlikely to assuage anger over this year’s nominations.

Rave reviews

The Oscars in the acting categories — usually a subject of agonizing deliberation for industry pundits — appear settled, with the same four stars sweeping up rave reviews and prizes all season.

Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger are believed to be far ahead of the competition for best actor and best actress.

Phoenix underwent a striking transformation to portray the title comic book supervillain in “Joker” — as did Zellweger to play legendary Hollywood diva Judy Garland in “Judy.”




Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger are believed to be far ahead of the competition for best actor and best actress. (AFP)

Tinseltown favorite Laura Dern has her fingertips on the supporting actress prize, for her work as a cutthroat divorce lawyer (“Marriage Story“).

And Pitt won as expected.

The ceremony has no host for a second consecutive time, after last year’s batch of bright guest presenters caused a trend-bucking uplift in TV ratings.

Related


From the UAE to Jordan, viral songs keep thousands entertained during self-isolation

Emirati social media star Rashid Al-Nuaimi has become a viral sensation. (Instagram/@r__a__n)
Updated 30 March 2020

From the UAE to Jordan, viral songs keep thousands entertained during self-isolation

DUBAI: From singing opera on their balconies to performing online concerts, musicians all around the globe are finding different ways to keep themselves — and others — entertained while self-isolating at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some are doing their part by rewriting the lyrics to their favorite songs into COVID-19 parodies, while others are creating clever new compositions to bring a little levity to these unprecedented times.

Emirati social media star Rashid Al-Nuaimi has become a viral sensation after taking to his Instagram on Sunday to upload a coronavirus-themed song about being bored in quarantine.

View this post on Instagram

What a moment to be alive. So many emotions take place at the same exact time. It’s important however to remind ourselves that we are all in this together. The world comes together for once in a common cause, and I personally will aim to not let this tragic scenario send me into a pit of fear, but use it to dig for every ounce of love. Love is expressed is many ways, and right now it’s expressed by staying at home. We will come out of the other side of this changed humans! Changed for the better. So let’s start being better now and stay home. My heart is filled with gratitude for every effort and risk the people are taking to protect the whole! Thank you to food delivery drivers, thank you to nurses and hospital workers, thank you to government officials who are working day and night to keep us safe. Thank you thank you thank you! #خلك_في_البيت Piano credit / Sing2piano

A post shared by Rashed راشد (@r__a__n) on

“Has it been a month/No it’s only been a day,” croons the singer, who is surrounded by a pile of books and a cup of tea while wearing yellow sweatpants paired with a hoodie. “I read through a pile of self-help books/ The Uber Eats on the way,” continue the ultra-relatable lyrics.

“Bored in quarantine/I’ll sit with the parts of myself that I have never seen/I’ll be bored in quarantine/I know for a fact, it’ll all be over one day/So I’ll stay in today,” the young jazz singer belts out.

As of this week, the musical clip has garnered nearly 30,000 views and over 200 comments. “Love this. Embracing individual boredom for the greater good,” wrote one user. “Thank you for making this,” quipped another user.

Meanwhile, Jordanian choir The Mosaica Singers came together online to record the song “Khalik bil Bait,” which translates to “stay at home.” 

Legendary singer Neil Diamond remixed his own song, “Sweet Caroline” with some new lyrics, while former “The Voice” contestant Chris Mann released a brilliant coronavirus parody based on Adele’s “Hello,” wittingly titled “Hello (From Inside).”

During troubled times, people often turn to music for comfort, a distraction or to calm the nerves. The coronavirus crisis has produced several moments of musical communion across the globe, including in Italy, where countless online videos have captured scenes of Italians under lockdown playing instruments and singing from apartment windows and balconies. Last week, actress Gal Gadot posted her own Instagram video — a montage of celebrities taking turns to croon John Lennon’s “Imagine” into their cellphone cameras.