As the 88th annual Academy Awards began, viewers were anxiously waiting to find out if their favorite flicks and actors would win, which categories would see big “upsets,” and which speeches and performances might stand out. Not to mention how host Chris Rock would approach the “Oscars So White” controversy, and who he would target during the opening monologue.
Did Leo finally take home a golden statue? Whose speech was the funniest? Most touching? Controversial? Just how adorable was nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay? And what moments had everyone talking?
The buzz began during the red carpet events prior to the official event. Jennifer Jason Leigh, nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Hateful Eight, seemed slightly out of it during her interview with Ryan Seacrest on E!’s special. But arguably the biggest surprise was Best Actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) playing to their nostalgic fans by walking the red carpet together. Can you believe it’s been nearly two decades since they starred together in the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic (which took home Best Picture)? Let’s all let out a collective “Aww.”
Chris Rock monologue | #OscarsSoWhite | Sam Smith & George Michael | Jared Leto’s merkin | The real Suge Knight
Right out of the gate, host Chris Rock addressed the elephant in the room: the controversy over the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations.
“Welcome to the Oscars. Or as some people like to call it, the ‘white people’s choice awards,'” the comedian joked. “If hosts were nominated, I wouldn’t be here; instead, you’d have Neil Patrick Harris.”
Rock, who addressed the issues with ease and expected humor, added that he did seriously consider quitting after so many people spoke out and pressured him to do so. “But the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart,” he said, as the crowd erupted in laughter (including Hart himself, who was in the audience).
Arguably, the best part of Rock’s monologue was his blatant dig at Jada Pinkett-Smith and her vocal “boycott” of the Oscars. “Isn’t she on a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties,” he said. “I wasn’t invited!” Ouch.
On a more serious note, Rock suggested that with this being the 88th annual Academy Awards, the absence of any black nominations has had to have happened already at least 71 other times, including during the 1950s. “People didn’t protest back then,” he said, “because we had real things to protest at the time.” Double ouch.
Rock’s focus on black actors continued. And leave it to the funnyman to inject this focus into Oscar-nominated films in the most hilarious and, in one case, creepiest ways. It started with Whoopi Goldberg mopping the floors in a scene from Joy, where she mocks Jennifer Lawrence’s character for not being able to speak on camera about her new mop. Of course a white girl gets an entire movie made about her because she invented a mop, she says. A black person would have to invent a cure for cancer!
We also see Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones in place of the bear that attacks Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, presumably after he failed to call her back after a date. In another clip, Rock himself plays the title role in the The Martian, while Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig contemplate whether to spend the $2,500 “white dollars” it would require to retrieve the black astronaut from outer space. But the real treat was Tracy Morgan in a dress wearing red lipstick and eating a pastry in his version of The Danish Girl. Welcome back, Tracy!
Rock calling Sam Smith George Michael
Blink and you might have missed it, but after Sam Smith performed his Oscar-nominated tune Writing’s on the Wall from the latest James Bond movie Spectre, Rock pointed his way and applauded the musician, noting that Father Figure is his favorite song. That tune was, of course, written by another notable openly homosexual Brit, George Michael. Guess Rock figures he’d even the playing field on the stereotyping front? But Smith got the last laugh; when he later picked up an Oscar for the song, and dedicated it to the LGBT community.
Jared Leto collectively gets the world to Google the word “merkin”
While introducing the award for Hairstyling alongside Margot Robbie, Oscar winner Jared Leto undoubtedly caused a collective “Google” for the word “merkin” as he referenced the, er, unique “hairstyle” type as being one that was occasionally required during filming. Do you know what a merkin is? If not, get ready for a hearty laugh once you look it up — #merkin.
The real Suge Knight
Rock highlighted several people in attendance on whom roles were based, including the real Michael Rezendes from the movie Spotlight (he was played by Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo) and the real Joy Mangano from Joy (played in the movie by Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence). Then, he cut to the “real Suge Knight” from Straight Outta Compton, showing a bald black man strapped to a gurney in an orange jumpsuit, flanked by two cops. Way to help the cause, Rock!