by G. Brown
We knew going into Sunday’s 92nd Oscar Awards there would be few surprises. The only exception was Eminem’s performance of his 18-year-old song”Lose Yourself”. Word is that his live performance was to make up for missing the ceremony when the song won Best Orginal Song in 2003. Go figure.
From the opening performance to the ending, Blacks and people of color were peppered through the three-hour show to give the illusion of balance, inclusivity, and diversity. Only one person of color, Cynthia Erivo(“Harriet”) was even nominated for acting, and we knew she wasn’t going to walk off that stage with the statuette.
Still, the Blacks who managed to take stage whether performing or presenting did represent. With that in mind, here are TRN’s Top 3 moments of Oscars 2020.
#3 Janelle Monae’s “Time to Shine” Whether she’s singing or acting, Monae always hits the mark and her opening performance to the night’s celebration was no exception. From the moment she donned that red cardigan to pay homage to Mr. Rogers, the audience knew it was going to be a “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. Declaring it was a night to “celebrate the art of the storyteller”, dancers joined her on stage clad as characters from hit movies like “Dolemite Is My Name”, “Joker” and “Queen and Slim”. Most memorable line of Monae’s song, “Parasite, it’s time to shine…it’s time to come alive, ‘cos the Oscars, it’s white.” Lol…so true…so true.
#2 Chris Rock Keeping It Reel Even though the Oscars has given up on trying to find hosts for the annual event, the awards show still need comedians like Rock and Steve Martin to remind us to laugh at ourselves. Rock pointed out that Twitter is the reason hosts are no longer a thing. From there the two comics poked fun at the Iowa caucus and Amazon’s Jeff Besos. Of course, the two eventually steered the convo around to the elephant in the room—the lack of diversity noting how few women directors were nominated. Rock singled out Oscar winner Mahershala Ali in the audience noting, ” Mahershala has two Oscars…you know what that means when cops pull him over? Nothing.” In talking about the nominees, Martin applauded Cynthia Erivo nominated for “Harriet”. Rock noted “Cynthia did such a great job in “Harriet” hiding Black people that the Academy got her to hide all the Black nominees.” Take that Academy.
“Stand Up” Brought The House Down Cynthia Erivo went into the awards show as a history maker. Erivo was only the third person in Oscar’s 92-year history to be nominated as a double nominee for Best Actress and Best Original Song for her performance in Kasi Lemmons’ biopic “Harriet”. Erivo was the only Black actor nominated for an Oscar this year, but that prize went to Renee Zellweger. Her second nomination went to Elton John for “Rocketman”, but that doesn’t mean Erivo didn’t walk away a winner. Her performance of “Stand Up” left everybody in the house standing up to give her an ovation. Erivo belted out the original song for “Harriet” with a chorus of background singers and dancers joining her on stage before ending with a picture of Harriet Tubman projected onto the stage. Erivo’s performance pierced hearts in the audience but also was the healing balm that a nation divided by hate speech and an ever-widening racial political chasm needed. Erivo united the audience in a way that no other person on stage Sunday night managed to do. Everyone within the sound of her voice for that moment walked away a winner. In case you missed it, here’s Erivo performing “Stand Up”.
Those were just a few of our favorites, but there were plenty of other moments worthy of an honorable mention.
Big Love for “Hair Love” The story of Black fathers loving their daughters by doing their hair started as a Kickstarter campaign to show Dads some love. It ended winning the Best Animated Short category. Creators Matthew Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver said in their acceptance speech, “…We wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair.” You can catch the full short film in all its adorable, heartwarming wonderfulness below…
And finally, Miss Regina King who wasn’t nominated but wins all the votes for best dressed.