Plenty of controversy brewed leading up to last night’s Oscars ceremony, and it did not disappoint! From surprise performances to groundbreaking winners, the Oscars ceremony was full of viral moments that kept everyone tweeting. Here are the top 10 viral moments from the Oscars 2020!
Janelle Monáe Calls Out #OscarsSoWhite In Opening Number
It was a night of political statements and groundbreaking winners. And singer Janelle Monáe set the tone with her opening musical performance. “It’s time to come alive,” she sang, “because the Oscars is so white!”
The Oscars came under fire in recent years when its 2015 and 2016 acting nominees were all white, leading to the trending Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Despite the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences inviting new members to diversity their roster, this year’s Oscars yielded one minority acting nominee, Cynthia Erivo for playing Harriet Tubman in Harriet.
Monáe called out the controversy with a musical number including dancers dressed as characters from overlooked films starring black actors including Queen & Slim, Us, and Dolemite Is My Name.
Non-Hosts Chris Rock and Steve Martin Deliver the Monologue
This was another year where the Oscars didn’t have an official host. Instead, it was up to assorted presenters to try to set the tone for the whole ceremony. It was up to former hosts Chris Rock and Steve Martin to deliver the opening monologue.
“They don’t really have hosts anymore, why is that?” Steve Martin asked.
“Twitter! Everybody’s got an embarrassing tweet somewhere. I know I do,” Rock replied, referencing how last year’s would-be host Kevin Hart quit following controversy over alleged homophobic jokes he tweeted in the past.
Rock and Martin also addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. “Cynthia did such a great job in Harriet hiding black people that the Academy got her to hide all the black nominees!” Rock quipped.
They also noted that women were completely shut out of the Best Director category. In the Oscars’ 92-year history, only five female directors have been nominated. (Kathryn Bigelow is the sole winner, for The Hurt Locker.)
Natalie Portman also drew attention to the issue by wearing a black and gold Dior dress with a black cape embroidered with the names of women she thought were snubbed in the category, including Greta Gerwig for Little Women.
“I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” she told the Los Angeles Times on the red carpet.
Eminem Gives Surprise Performance of ‘Lose Yourself’
The night was filled with stunning musical moments, from Elton John’s performance of “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (which picked up the Oscar for Best Original Song later in the evening), to Billie Eilish’s soulful rendition of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” during the In Memoriam segment, to Idina Menzel leading a group of international Elsa in “Into the Unknown” from Frozen 2.
But the biggest musical moment of the night was also the most shocking. It started when Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda presented a montage celebrating the impact of music in movies, ending with footage of Eminem in 8 Mile.
As the montage ended, suddenly Eminem himself appeared on stage and broke into a surprise performance of his Oscar-winning hit “Lose Yourself”! The camera panned to stunned audience members swaying to the beat and singing along, clearly enjoying themselves. All except for legendary director Martin Scorsese, who appeared to possibly have fallen asleep!
“Lose Yourself” had famously become the first hip hop song to win an Oscar in 2003 — but Eminem did not appear at the 2003 ceremony to accept his award because he didn’t believe he would win!
James Corden and Rebel Wilson Present Best Visual Effects in ‘Cats’ Costumes
While the Oscars honor the best films of year, the ceremony was not above poking fun at one of the most maligned films of 2019, Tom Hooper’s disastrous musical Cats.
Infamous for going to theaters with unfinished CGI effects that included Judi Dench’s human hand being seen instead of a cat paw, it was with great irony that Cats star James Corden and Rebel Wilson presented the award for Best Visual Effects.
“As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” the duo said, dressed in fur-covered costumes resembling their characters from the film. Both actors were recently nominated for Razzie Awards (which “honor” the worst in film) for their Cats performances.
By the way, the winner of Best Visual Effects? Sam Mendes’ WWI drama 1917.
Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, and Renee Zellweger Give Memorable Speeches
Brad Pitt collected the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his memorable turn in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, continuing the trend of Quentin Tarantino films winning in that category. This is Pitt’s first acting Oscar (he previously earned a statuette for producing Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave).
Pitt used his speech to joke about President Trump’s impeachment (“They told me only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week”), thank his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio (“I’ll ride on your coattails any day, man: the view’s fantastic”), and give a shoutout to his children (“This is for my kids who color everything I do. I adore you.”
Laura Dern became the first actor in her family to win an Oscar when took home the award for Best Supporting Actress, thanks to her performance in Marriage Story. She gave a shoutout to her famous parents in her speech, who have five Oscar nominations between them.
“Some say, you never meet your heroes, but I say if you’re really blessed you get them as your parents,” she said. “I share this with my acting heroes, my legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.”
Meanwhile, Best Actress winner Renee Zellweger used her speech to highlight the legacy of Judy Garland, whom she portrayed stunningly in Judy. “Judy Garland did not receive this honor in her time. I am certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy that began on our film set,” Zellweger said. “Miss Garland, you are certainly among the heroes who unite and define us, and this is certainly for you.”
Joaquin Phoenix Goes After Factory Farming in Best Actor Speech
But certainly, the most memorable and perhaps bizarre Oscar speech came from Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix, who won for his R-rated comic book portrayal in Joker. Phoenix did not use his speech to thank anyone involved in the film, but rather highlighted social issues.
Although he mentioned various causes including “gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights” his speech had a special focus on animal rights. Phoenix, who is a vegan, went after the factory farming industry, saying, “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable.”
He also memorably referenced his brother River Phoenix, who tragically died of a drug overdose in 1993. “When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. It said, ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.'”
Taika Waititi Becomes First Maori Oscar Winner
For all of the controversy over the lack of nominee representation for minorities and women, the 2020 Oscars will however be remembered as a night of groundbreaking winners.
For instance, New Zealand writer/director/actor Taika Waititi became the first Maori person to win an Oscar. He won Best Adapted Screenplay for his Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit. “I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories,” Waititi said in his acceptance speech. “We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well.”
Waititi later went viral thanks to a video Captain Marvel star Brie Larsen shared to her Instagram story, where Waititi sticks his Oscar statuette under the seat in front of him.
Eimear Noone and Hildur Guðnadóttir Make History for Female Conductors and Composers
History was made when Eimear Noone became the first female conductor at the Oscars, leading the orchestra through a montage of the five nominated scores.
It seemed the perfect lead-up to the Best Original Score announcement, when Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir won for Joker. She became just the fourth woman to win in a scoring category, and the first to win since Anne Dudley for 1997’s The Full Monty. Only seven women have been nominated in scoring categories in the Oscar’s 92-year history.
“To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices,” said Guðnadóttir, who also became the first Icelandic woman to win an Oscar in any category.
She was presented her Oscar by the female empowerment trifecta of Sigourney Weaver, Gal Gadot, and Brie Larsen (aka Aliens‘ Ripley, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel). Gadot and Larsen praised Weaver for leading the way for female action stars. “All women are superheroes,” Weaver proclaimed.
‘Parasite’ Makes History With Best Picture and Best Director Wins
Of course, the biggest and most unexpected winners came in the Best Picture and Best Director categories, which went to South Korean thriller Parasite and its director Bong Joon Ho. Not only did Bong become the first South Korean to win Best Director, but Parasite became the first film in a foreign language to win Best Picture.
The wins were especially unexpected considering Parasite had failed to win in these categories at precursors such as the Golden Globes, Directors Guild of America Awards, Producers Guild of America Awards, or the BAFTAs.
Bong himself was shocked to win Best Director. “Thank you. After winning best international feature, I thought I was done for the day and was ready to relax,” he said in his acceptance speech via a translator.
He also paid tribute to his fellow directing nominees, which included Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. “When I was in school, I studied Martin Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated was a huge honor. I never thought I would win…. I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the award into five and share it with all of you.”
The Audience Refuses to Let Best Picture Speech Be Cut Off
But perhaps the most heartwarming moment came at the end of the night with Parasite‘s surprise Best Picture win. With the ceremony lasting three-and-a-half hours, the broadcast dimmed the lights after Parasite co-producer Kwak Sin Ae gave a 45-second speech, effectively shutting down other producers from speaking.
But the audience was not going to let this historic moment be cut off. Chants of “UP! UP! UP!” began. The efforts were lead by stars in the front row including Tom Hanks, Charlize Theron, and Margot Robbie, who waved their arms upward for the lights to come back on.
The Oscar producers relented, and Parasite executive producer Miky Lee was allowed to speak. After praising director Bong Joon Ho, she thanked the South Korean film audience who helped make the film a success.
“I really, really, really want to thank our Korean film audience, our moviegoers, who have been really supporting our movies and never hesitated to give us straightforward opinions,” she said. “That made us really never be able to be complacent and keep pushing the directors, the creators, keep pushing the envelope. Without you, our Korean film audience, we are not here.”