Where to begin this year? What an honor, as always to be back in the press room, backstage, deep inside the Lowes Hotel. The end of Awards season. What was so great this year, was the uncertainty. Not knowing anything – truly. Who really was going to win what?
Well, it’s Monday morning and we know the answers.
This year, I sat at Table 6, surrounded by familiar faces from Fandango, GLAAD, and RogerEbert.Com. A few tables away sat Jeanne Wolf who gave me some good press room tips this season.
If you’re not covering the red carpet and want to get a feel for the “calm before the storm” then lockdown is at 1pm so you have to be gowned and glammed by then to get your photos. I ventured down there and saw a longtime Awards Daily reader Simone Cromer in the fan bleachers.
— @jazzt (@jazzt) February 24, 2019
After that, it was back up to the press room where we generally sit around, typing up reports or talking. I always do the latter while trying to think up some questions for the winners. It’s the end of Awards season and it’s probably going to be another year before I see these faces again. This year we were still discussing the “What if” scenario.
The biggest cheer went to Spike Lee when he won for Blackkklansman. He soon graced the press room with his presence and inevitably was asked about his reaction to Green Book winning Best Picture. “Let me take another sip.” Lee said. “Next question.” He went on to say, “The ref made a bad call.” He added, “Every time somebody is driving, I lose.” He quipped to applause and laughter referring to Do The Right Thing “But they change the seating arrangement.”
Asked about the progression of Black filmmakers Lee said, “Without Apri Reign #OscarsSoWhite, and the former president of the Academy Award of Motion Picture Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, I wouldn’t be here tonight. They opened up the Academy to make the Academy look more like America. It’s more diverse. So that’s why three black women if I’m counting correctly, won Oscars. That would not have happened without #OscarsSoWhite and Cheryl Boone Isaacs.”
Talking about jumping on Samuel L. Jackson when he went on stage, Lee asked if he really did that and told the room it was a “genuine reaction.” He also said he had prepared two speeches. “One with a list of the people I was going to thank and the other one was what you heard me say. So I said to myself, “Self, your black ass may not be up here again, so let me go with the speech.” And I did not get to read the one with the thanks. So I apologize for the people I didn’t get a chance to thank.”
Watch the video below and by far, it was one of the funniest moments of the entire night. It was also a moment that makes life worth living, seeing Spike Lee be honored for his work.
Early in the evening, Black Panther made history with Hannah Beachler winning an Academy Award for Best Production Design and Ruth E. Carter winning for Best Costume Design.
When asked what it was like to create the world of Wakanda, Beachler said, “I was going to get involved with the project because of Ryan Coogler. I’ve worked with him on two previous films, so there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to do the film because I know what Ryan would bring to it and what it would become, not just a superhero film but a film for the ages.” She went on to say, “It was about me getting the project, about Marvel, you know, sort of being convinced that I could do this project more than about me wanting to do the project because I wanted to work with Ryan.”
Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton who won for Period.End of Sentence. A film that takes us to a village near India showing the stigmas that surround female menstruation, Zehtabchi was asked what was the one moment that made it all worthwhile. “I think when I was in India shooting with Sam Davis, my creative partner, we surveyed hundreds of women and men. I think the responses that we would hear about what menstruation is that really took us back were when women had been menstruating their entire lives and literally couldn’t tell us what a period was.” She continued, “They didn’t know or understand why they would menstruate each month. In fact, they had gone their entire lives believing that they had an illness. I mean, I think that was one of the most heartbreaking things for me as a woman and especially as a young woman as well, seeing that you can go your entire life fearing this thing that happens to your body and can’t even imagine what else you would be afraid to do.”
Alfonso Cuaron who won three Academy Awards for his masterpiece, Roma said it had been a long journey. “I’m thrilled this is happening. Most importantly, audiences are embracing a character who is a domestic character from an indigenous background.” He said. “This is not what you would call Oscar bait, you know? In the paper, when you do it, and when you finish it, and when you try to put it together for distribution.”
Cuaron was asked about what he’d say to Mexico and what the win means to bring Oscar gold to his country, “This is a Mexican film. This award belongs to Mexico. It’s a Mexican film in every single front. It’s not that 95 percent of the crew was a Mexican crew. The cast is 100 percent Mexican. The themes, the country, the landscape, everything is Mexico. This film wouldn’t exist if not for Mexico. To put it bluntly, I would not be here if it was not for Mexico.”
Olivia Colman brought unexpected joy to the Press room when she entered, still absorbing it all in. “I completely forgot Melissa and Yalitza as well, but, you know, it’s not an everyday occurrence. So I don’t know how anyone is composed and remembers everything because it’s a very weird situation. ” Colman said holding the Best Actress Oscar and answering how much of her speech she had prepared.
Asked where she planned on putting her Oscar, Colman was quick to reply, “In bed with me, between me and my husband. He doesn’t know yet. ”
Colman was also asked about another series of her British show Broadchurch returning and said there would be no more episodes. It was clear that Colman was in as much of a shock as we all were so when I was picked to ask a question, I went with the flow and asked her what Queen Anne would say to the win. “Have some cake. Blue cake. Eat too much blue cake. If you had seen the film, it makes sense.”
Regina King graced us, fresh from her Spirit Awards win and finally taking home Oscar gold. She said so much of her character was mapped by her mother and grandmother who she said were inspirational to her and were both with her in the audience.
Talking about speaking the words of James Baldwin, King said, “If Beale Street Could Talk is a beautiful film, it was a beautiful novel before it was a film. It’s a film that breaks through a lot of sections that exist right now. ” King continued, “You know, love is that thing that pushes us through trauma. You know, this is an urban tragedy, but tragedy is something that is experienced no matter what sex you are, no matter what race you are; and love and support is usually what pushes us through, which gets us to the other side. So I think this film is so needed right now because we need a lot of help getting through the other side and seeing how much we are alike. We are different in a lot of ways. Absolutely. Our circumstances are so different; but to the core, we are really a lot alike.”
The one surefire bet was Best Original Song going to Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt for Shallow. Asked to comment on her LGBTQ fans heading to Sydney Mardi Gras, Gaga said, “What I would like to say is one of the hardest things in life is to be brave enough to be yourself. I wish to everyone that is going to that celebration to feel a joy inside of them. That’s actually what Bradley said to me yesterday right before we did our last rehearsal for this performance of Shallow. He said, ‘Let’s just drop a little bit of joy’. I said, ‘Okay'” She added, “I also have a true dream in our future as we evolve as humanity that these award shows will not be male and female but that we include everyone.”
Gaga also talked about her struggles saying, “The truth is people see what they see on the outside. And in some way, shape, or form, at times, we become architects. But the truth is, I was so determined to live my dreams and yet there was so much in the way. There were so many things I did not anticipate that broke me, that tortured me, that traumatized me. And I think sometimes, what you are trying to clarify, is that people think that it comes easy to us because when we show up and we have our suits on, that it’s all okay.” She continued, “The truth is every single person on this stage has been through so much. We are friends. We have worked on ourselves in life. We have tried to heal through the torment of this industry and being artists. And the truth is that this is very, very hard work. And it is not for the faint of heart. But I would never want to imply that anyone in the world is faint of heart.”
As the night was coming to a close, I asked the closing question of the night in the room, asking why Shallow resonated so much with us all. What a way to end having Shallow lyrics quoted to you.
“This song provides not just a conversation but is also a very poignant statement. I wish to not be in the shallow, but I am. But I wish to dive off the deep end, and watch me do it. I think this is something that speaks to many people. And during, I think, a very shallow time, it’s a chance for us all to grab hands, you know, and just dive off into the water together, and swim into the deepest depths of the ocean that we can.”
Green Book Prevails…
Rami Malek wins for playing Freddie Mercury
And Mahershala Ali wins his second Academy Award
And that my friends is a wrap on the 91st Academy Awards