Oscars 2016: It’s a Mad Max World

The Host and His Monologue — Everyone Gets a Cookie!

Chris Rock touched on the whiter lighter side of things with his Oscars monologue, one that definitely did not shy away from the Oscar’s diversity controversy. Rock has always been one of those performers who can take a divisive subject and unite an audience through the common dominator of laughter. Tonight, he proved not only a competent host but one of our most consistently funny and insightful entertainers.


“I counted at least 15 black people,” he opened, referencing the monologue, then going on with a quip about the Oscar’s being “the white people’s choice awards.”

He aptly addressed the controversy, and some peoples’ demands that he boycott as well. “How come it’s only unemployed people who tell you to quit somethin’?”

Statistically, this “all white Oscars” thing had to have happened before, he mentions. “We didn’t protest because we had real things to protest,” he said, adding that problems like lynching may have kept a few people from rioting in the streets over opportunity in the film industry. Way to put it in perspective, Chris.

Brilliantly — and hilariously — he called out Hollywood racism while also cautioning the self-righteous, politically correct liberal crowd to look at themselves in the mirror. “Is Hollywood racist?” He asked the biggest question of the night, and answered, “It’s a different type of racist … the racist you’ve grown accustomed to.”

“It’s … sorority racist,” Rock said, the kind that says, “We like you, Wanda, but you’re not a Kappa.” But, he said, “It’s not about boycotting anything; It’s about opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities.”

Nonetheless, “Everything’s not racism, everything’s not sexism.” If you missed the joke about journalism and women’s attire, just go on YouTube.

And The Winner Is …

Inside Out, the animated film that seemed to win everybody over, was actually nominated for its screenplay, though Spotlight took home the Oscar, accepted by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy.

The presentation for Best Adapted Screenplay gave us a scripted banter between Crowe and Gosling before revealing The Big Short as the winner.

In the first two categories alone, two writer-directors took home an Oscar, shared with their writer collegues.

The winners for The Big Short even threw in a political message: “Don’t vote for candidates that take money from big banks …” I guess someone’s feeling the Bern.

The black-centric Oscar skits were fantastic, followed by one of the Best Original Song nominations and an expectedly sexually explicit introduction by Sarah Silverman, who lamented the greatly exaggerated prowess of James Bond.

Sam Smith (YouTube)
Sam Smith (YouTube)

As if to prove the point, Sam Smith sang the last Bond song “Writing’s on the Wall,” which took home the Oscar but (as a James Bond song) probably prompted as much laughter from my oh-so-sensitive family members as Chris Rock’s monologue, being that the song itself is almost a perfect anti-Bond song, with the artist singing well known for his sentimental ballads.

Smith himself gave a short and touching tribute to the LGBT community when he accepted the award though. With Jimmy Napes by his side, Smith commented that it was the first time an openly gay man had won an Oscar, according to Sir Ian McKellan (Smith wasn’t the first openly gay man, Howard Ashman and Dustin Lance Black won Oscars, but we’re happy for Smith).

Alicia Vikander was presented with the award for Best Supporting Actresses was presented by J.K. Simmons for her work in The Danish Girl, costarring alongside Eddie Redmayne.

After a commercial break, Rock welcomed us “black” and the show veered once again in all the categories people generally shrug off unless they’re serious film and/or design geeks. Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Editing led one winner (Margaret Sixel, in her 6th win for Editing) to remark, “Us Mad Maxers are doing okay,” as the bizarre and well-reviewed post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road tallied up multiple awards. And Jenny Beavan, who accepted the award for costume design, even used the moment for a humanitarian and environmental plug. One winner noted that it “took enormous courage and guts to make this film,” which I thought was insightful, given that making a bunch of beautiful people look ugly is considered brave in Hollywood. (That’s what they meant, right?)

The Revenant (8 nominations, 2 wins) won for Best Cinematography, accepted by Emmanuel Lubezki, who shared this with just about everyone, including the actors.

Time Out

Black History Month Minute acknowledged everyone’s favorite Black guy in White Hollywood: Jack Black.

Back to the Millionaires

Tom Hardy in “Mad Max:Fury Road” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Tom Hardy in “Mad Max:Fury Road” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Ironically, the sound went out during the announcement for Sound Editing, which went to none other than Mad Max: Fury Road, and the winners in that category made sounds with a canned acceptance speech and a shoutout to one of the winner’s fellow Australians. (As Superman himself said in the post-announcement reaction, “Why not?”)

The film also took an Oscar for Sound Mixing Mad Max.

Andy Serkis presented the Visual Effects award to Ex Machina (finally, someone other than the Mad Maxers!), and special Star Wars guests proved how far technology has come when they made their way to stage to heap praise on John Williams for his 50th nomination. Anyone who loves CP30 was pleased. Everyone else took a potty break, and returned just in time to see Chris Rock make Oscar’s history selling girl scout cookies at the Oscar’s. That’s right. He’s a good dad, and even anorexic millionaires are nice to girl scouts.

Oh, and going back to CP30, if you missed him and just can’t get enough of those talking twinkies from Despicable Me, the Minions presented for animated short films. Two handsome Chilean animators accepted the award for Bear Story, which I think may owe some of its success to The Revenant.

In animated news, Buzz and Woody celebrated 20 happy years of animated banter onscreen, and announced the nominations for Animated feature films. Inside Out won, in a case of Pixar congratulating itself on its very deserving back. The winners’ comments? Emotions happen, but “you can make stuff,” and that makes all the difference.

Then Kevin Hart came out and made a crack about showing his face more (because hey, he’s only been mentioned 20 times by the event’s host), which lead to another overrated song, in my very irrelevant opinion.

Time Out


Chris Rock interviewed Compton residents, throwing out the pretentious Oscar picks, and receiving responses like, “What the hell is that?”

There and Black Again

Another one of the talented but white nominees (hey, every year’s got to have a theme), Mark Rylance, won Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies. He honored the art of storytelling and acknowledged the truth of connections in Hollywood, thanking those who made movies possible.

Louis C.K. presented Documentary Shorts with his usual quick wit and candor, saying, “These people will never be rich the rest of their lives,” before presenting the award to Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, for Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, who gave a compelling acceptance speech on the power of film. In particular, her short affected Honor Killing policies. (And it’s worth noting that this is her 2nd Oscar for her “crappy apartment,” to quote Louis’ assessment of how little Documentary Short filmmakers get paid.)

Best documentary feature went to Amy, and Chris Rock had the guts to point out that we value a documentary about a deceased drug-addicted pop star over films about political strife. But it was funny when he said it, damnit.

Whoopi Goldberg announced the Governor’s Awards, highlighting the accomplishments of Debbie Reynolds, Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, then took the stand — I mean, stage — to address the issue of diversity and deliver a poignant message of opportunity and responsibility (basically, the Peter Parker speech). “While change is often difficult, it is necessary,” she said.

Then, as if things hadn’t gotten serious enough, we watched The “In Memorium” segment, which has a long history of being the part where we watch beloved faces for the last time without revisiting their past work. This year, that included Alan Rickman, Maureen O’Hara, James Horner, Leonard Nimoy and Christopher Lee.

(Not to worry, it was hard to stay sad when the Oscar’s cutest VIPs presented the award for Live Action Short film to Serena Armitage and Benjamin Cleary.)

Ryan Seacrest interviewing Sofia Vergara before the Oscars. (YouTube)
Ryan Seacrest interviewing Sofia Vergara before the Oscars. (YouTube)

For the Foreign Language Film award, Byung-hun Lee and Sofia Vergera presented the award to Son of Saul. Lazlo Nernes accepted for the Hungarian film, for his cast and crew, with a poetic speech about humanity’s ability to shine light in darkness.

Our Vice President, Joe Biden, got the standing ovation of the night, as he championed the right to consent to sexual activity and encouraged people to take the pledge on ItsOnUs.org, leading to an outstanding performance by Lady Gaga, who sang, “Til It Happens to You.” Sexual assault, something most women and many men have experienced, has inspired some great films this year, and music that rips you to the core, like the song performed at this year’s Academy Awards — reminiscent of Tori Amos “Silent All These Years” and others in that vein.

The award for Original Score finally went to the six-time nominated Ennio Morricone, whose translator was able to translate his tearful and humble thanks, which acknowledged Tarantino (obviously) but also the musical giant John Williams. Morricone finished with a personal note of gratitude to his wife, and ended with a simple, “That’s it.”

Lady Gaga (YouTube)
Lady Gaga (YouTube)

If, at this point, you became in the least bit teary-eyed, Sacha Baron Cohen provided a hilarious interlude announcing another nomination for Best Picture, referencing equality for Minions and Darth Vader. (His co-presenter, Olivia Wilde, wore a plunging white dress that provided a whole new kind of depth, certainly appreciated by the straight male audience.)

The director of Birdman won this year for a completely different kind of film with his Best Director award for The Revenant (his 4th Oscar), which he shared with the “talented and crazy” colleagues. He powered through the music as though he couldn’t even hear it during his lengthy but meaningful acceptance speech, citing the need for equal opportunity and ridding the world of “tribal thinking.”

Best Actress went to Brie Larson for Room, who went down the list warmly but efficiently, from Film Festivals to coworkers to family to moviegoers. (If she ever quits acting, she could probably write killer Sparknotes.)

Second category to last, the sixth time was a charm for Leonardo DiCaprio, who finally secured a win for Best Actor after being touted as one of Hollywood’s most devoted actors for years. His speech gave credit to everyone in his career current and past, and ended on a plea to support leaders who are fighting the environmental factors behind climate change. “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

Lastly, Morgan Freeman announced the win for Spotlight, one of the most depressing films released this year, but one touching on a very relevant subject: the truth. As quoted in the other depressing film this year, The Big Short, truth “… is like poetry — and most people fucking hate poetry.”

Their thanks included a direct address to The Pope and vouched for the importance of investigative journalism.

The Most Important Award of the Night Goes To: The Girl Scouts.

Leonardo DiCaprio (YouTube)
Leonardo DiCaprio (YouTube)

With the help of a great Oscar host and dedicated father to two very lucky scouts, they raised over $65,000 on a Sunday night (with big thanks to Suge Knight).

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Prologue: Twitter went crazy with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag with Chris Rock’s name attached. “Chris Rock is crushing it!” “Chris Rock kicking asses!” “ ‘Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!’ Lol so rude.” Some thought he was whitewashing the controversy.

The producers of this year’s Oscars, David Hill and Reginald Hudlin, decided to take the #OscarsSoWhite controversy head-on, with Chris Rock in the lead. They mocked the racism in Hollywood, they pointed it out, and they let everyone know the Oscars were taking the diversity issue head-on when they played “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy as Chris Rock walked on stage and then as the closing credits rolled.