Sunday night was Hollywood’s biggest night of the year, as dozens of the biggest stars gathered at the Dolby Theater for the 92nd Academy Awards for a historic night.
Sam Mendes’ World War I epic “1917” was poised as the frontrunner for Best Picture and Mendes was widely regarded as the lock for Best Director, yet the Best International Feature winner “Parasite” became the first foreign or international film to win the award for Best Picture.
“Parasite" director Bong Joon Ho won the prized Best Director award, a major surprise and victory over Mendes. The South Korean filmmaker in his acceptance speech gave a heartfelt tribute to his fellow nominees, including the legendary Martin Scorsese who was nominated for directing his epic mob drama “The Irishman,” to which the crowd gave a standing ovation.
“Parasite” ended up winning a total of four awards during the evening, including Best Original Screenplay in addition to Best Picture, Director and International Feature, which Joon Ho accepted an award for each category.
The acceptance speech that got everyone talking was that by Joaquin Phoenix, winning Best Actor in a Leading Role for his haunting and astonishing portrayal as Arthur Fleck in “Joker.”
Phoenix, a lifelong environmental and animal activist, addressed how he uses his fame and platform to fight against inequality of all sorts, stating, “I think the greatest gift that it's [his platform] given me and many of us in this room is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I've been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively and I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think whether we're talking about gender and equality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we're talking about the fight against injustice. We're talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.”
Renée Zellweger won her second career Academy Award, this time for her portrayal of Hollywood icon Judy Garland. Zellweger’s win wasn’t just a win for Zellweger but was rather a way for the Academy to express their admiration for the late Judy Garland and her career.
Brad Pitt won his first acting Oscar for his movie-star performance as the laid-back and charismatic Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood,” reflecting on his career in his speech and journey as an actor by saying, “Once upon a time in Hollywood ... ain’t that the truth.”
Laura Dern received Best Supporting Actress for her role in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” for which she received a warm standing ovation. The actress gave a heartfelt dedication to her parents and moved the audience with her personality as always.
The ceremony featured several musical notes of the nominees for Best Original Song, including Elton John (who ended up winning) singing his song “I’m Gonna Love Me Again.” Other performances included Cynthia Erivo’s stunning performance of “Stand Up” from her film “Harriet,” Billie Eilish’s performance for the memoriam of the Beatles' “Yesterday,” and Eminem making a surprise appearance to sing his Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself.”