A Recap of the 2020 Academy Awards

Priya Venugopal ‘21

On February 9th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) recognized the best films of 2019 at the 92nd Academy Awards. 


The big winner of the night was Parasite, a South Korean dark comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, which won in some of the most prestigious categories like Best Director for Bong, Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, and Best Picture. It became not only the first South Korean film to receive an Oscar but also the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture. Other winners of the night include Renée Zellweger for Best Actress, portraying Judy Garland in Rupert Goold’s Judy, and Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor, playing the titular character in Todd Phillips’s Joker.


Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman was the only Best Picture nominee to go home with no wins while Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood claimed two trophies, including a win for Brad Pitt in the Best Supporting Actor category. While Scarlett Johansson did not win despite her double nominations for Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story, her Jojo Rabbit writer-director Taika Waititi and Marriage Story costar Laura Dern won for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress in a Supporting Role respectively.


Performances included “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman, performed by Elton John; “Into The Unknown” from Frozen II where Idina Menzel shared the stage with international Elsas; “Stand Up” from Harriet, performed by Cynthia Erivo; and “Yesterday” for the In Memorium segment, performed by Billie Eilish. 


However, despite the seemingly progressive show, many controversies surrounded the show leading up to the night, including the absence of nominations for Greta Gerwig in the Best Director category for Little Women, Jennifer Lopez for her portrayal of Ramona Vega in Hustlers, and Lupita Lupita Nyong’o’s performance in Jordan Peele’s horror film Us. Performers and presenters alike called out the Academy for its lack of diversity in its nomination pool, including Chris Rock, Steve Martin, and opening performer Janelle Monáe. Later on in the show, after the annual In Memoriam where the Academy recognizes late talents who have impacted the industry, many noticed the absence of mentions for Luke Perry, Cameron Boyce, Jan-Michael Vincent, Michael J. Pollard, and Tim Conway. 


The ceremony was watched by 23.6 million viewers on Sunday night, a 20% viewer drop-off from last year, leaving ABC with its smallest audience for the show in the Academy’s history.