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ICYMI: What Happened at the 96th Oscars?


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Yesterday’s 96th Academy Awards was another legendary night for the books. The show was full of performances, memorable moments, and plenty of gold statues to go around. This year showcased some predictable yet deserving winners but also surprising many movie lovers with tight races. Let’s dive deep into some of the best moments of the iconic Oscars night which brings its yearly batch of supremely talented nominees to the forefront while honoring its winners with reverence for their contributions in the art of film.

Read Also: ICYMI: Highlights of the 81st Golden Globe Awards

John Cena, What Are You Doing Here?!

Last night’s Oscars ceremony was hosted by late night host, Jimmy Kimmel, making it the fourth year he’s hosted the event. While his hosting skills have always been received with mixed opinions, one can’t deny that the jokes were definitely toned down for the most part. Jokes aside, Kimmel called out the extraordinary feats of talent across the room from the previous year. Naturally, Kimmel also made mention of the writers and actors strikes that ended in October and November. The comedian called attention to the efforts of actors and writers as they achieved better conditions and benefits in the industry. The cherry on top was Kimmel pulling members of IASTE, standing in solidarity with their pending contract as well.

But that’s not all! On a much lighter note, a recognizable wrestler and actor somehow happened upon the stage. But this time, it was in a fashion akin to an incident that occurred during the 46th Academy Awards ceremony. John Cena was invited by Jimmy Kimmel himself to get on a stage in the nude, a reference to the infamous 1974 Oscars Streaker which shocked viewers. Cena’s only saving grace? A well-placed envelope and an instant costume change from a well-oiled crew. This was surely a testament to costume designers without whom we wouldn’t have incredible and iconic costumes in film.

John Cena at the 96th Academy Awards ceremony, covered in a curtain-like material, presenting the award for Best Costume Design.
John Cena at the 96th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, presenting the award for Best Costume Design. Photo: Rich Polk/Variety

Music of the Night

As with every awards ceremony, performances of songs nominated for Best Original Song occurred throughout the show. It’s safe to say everyone knew how heartfelt and emotional Billie Eilish’s performance of “What Was I Made For?” would end up being. But nevertheless, it blew us all away. Eilish was accompanied by her brother and musical partner, Finneas O’Connell as they both put on a beautiful and soft rendition of the song against a hot pink backdrop in reference to the blockbuster hit, Barbie. Imagining that, can anyone be surprised that they took home the Oscar for the category?

But that isn’t to say none of the other nominees were just memorable. Becky G performed a shortened version of her song, “The Fire Inside” from the Hulu Original film, Flamin’ Hot. Meanwhile, Jon Batiste performed “It Never Went Away” from the film American Symphony. But perhaps, one of the most notable performances of the evening was “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)”, performed by Scott George and the Osage Singers from the film Killers of the Flower Moon. The film succeeded in bringing introduced audiences nationwide to the beauty of the Osage people and their culture.

However, Killers of the Flower Moon also displayed the heart wrenching history of violence committed against the Osage nation, moments in time which mirror the atrocities being committed in today’s world. Being able to see such an impactful performance on a stage rarely seen by Natives is historic on its own. We can only wonder when the next time we’ll be able to see something of this magnitude. And we can only hope that it happens again soon.

The final performance of the evening and perhaps people’s favorite performance was “I’m Just Ken”, performed by Ryan Gosling, Mark Ronson, Slash, and the Kens. While it was expected to be a phenomenal performance, no one knew just how fantastic it would turn out to be. The performance included Guns & Roses guitarist, Slash, while Ryan brings the mic to his cast mates and to other nominees in the crowd. No one can deny that it made for a moment unlike anything we’ve seen before. And we see you, Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa, and Kingsley Ben-Adir! Props to the entire crew that made this moment on stage happen as we relive the excitement and fun of such a colorful movie.

Ryan Gosling and the Kens performing “I’m Just Ken” from the 2023 film, “BARBIE”. Photo: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

And the Oscars Went To…

The Oscars ceremony wouldn’t be complete without its collection of winners for the year. And last night was filled with clear front-running winners and a few surprises. 

In the more technical region of film, the categories were practically split between Poor Things and Oppenheimer. The visually stunning Poor Things took home awards for Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Costume Design. Meanwhile, Oppenheimer was awarded for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Score. However, not every technical award went to either of these films. In fact, The Zone of Interest, a WWII film, came in and scooped the award for Best Sound this year. And to no one’s surprise, fans roared with pride when Godzilla Minus One took home the gold for Best Visual Effects.

Tatsuji Nojima posts a photo of his Godzilla figurine alongside the Oscar won for Godzilla Minus One in the Best Visual Effects category.

But let’s move toward the geniuses behind this year’s collection of incredible films. Anatomy of a Fall was awarded for Best Original Screenplay thanks to Justine Triet and Arthur Harari. This was to be expected given the film’s engaging dialogue. Triet and Harari brought unexpected moments of comedy while keeping audiences in suspense. But the real surprise was in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. The award went to Cord Jefferson for American Fiction, adapted from the Percival Everett novel, “Erasure”. It was a common assumption that it would go to Nolan for Oppenheimer or Gerwig for Barbie. But Jefferson’s fast-paced dialogue and witty commentary on the publishing completely stole the academy’s hearts, and deservingly so.

Films are nothing without its technical artists, its writers, its directors, and especially its actors and actresses. Like previous years, the quartet of winners for the year is an astounding and talented bunch. Every winner made their mark in cinema and deservingly took home Oscars. Da’Vine Joy Randolph won Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Holdovers. She gave a phenomenal performance as a mother grieving, finding friendship in an unlikely space. And as she completed her awards season sweep, Randolph delivered an emotional speech that also honored her publicist, Marla Farrell.

After one of the most insane career jumps Hollywood has seen in the twenty-first century, Robert Downey Jr. has finally earned his first Oscar. The actor won the award in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in Oppenheimer. Downey delivered an incredible performance unlike anything we’ve seen from him, making his win even more deserving.

But what about Best Leading Actor and Actress? Just like anyone could imagine, our favorite humble Irishman, Cillian Murphy also won his first Oscar. Murphy took the award home for his performance as the titular character in Oppenheimer. After getting his start in Irish cinema to collaborating with Christopher Nolan for years after, Murphy made his mark portraying the man who changed the world and dedicating his award to those fighting to change it.

“For better or for worse, we’re all living in Oppenheimer’s world, so I would really like to dedicate this to the peacemakers everywhere.”

Cillian Murphy, accepting the award for Best Leading Actor at the 96th Academy Awards.
(left to right) Robert Downey Jr, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Emma Stone, and Cillian Murphy at the 96th Academy Awards.

But the shock really came through in the category for Best Leading Actress, with many hoping to see Lily Gladstone take home the Oscar for their role as Mollie Burkhart in Killers of the Flower Moon. However, in such a tight race, the award instead went to Emma Stone for her colorful, insightful, empowering performance as Bella Baxter in Poor Things. Stone conveyed what it means to take ownership of who are in the most unapologetic sense. And in a time where women and femme-presenting people are continuing to find strength within themselves and confidently take up space in the world, Stone’s performance could not be more relevant.

As respect toward animated films continues to grow amongst audiences, this year’s nominees were a stellar bunch, including Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Nimona, and Robot Dreams. However, from Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki broke through this year in their newest beautiful film, The Boy and the Heron. And who better to win the category of Best Animated Feature Film than a film that cemented its creators’ legacy in history?

The evening continued to prove to be a major success for non-English films, including The Zone of Interest which won Best International Film. The film’s director, Jonathan Glazer, accepted the award but not without properly and courageously addressing current events that echo a similar warning and effect as his film.

And finally, after a long and illustrious career, last night finally was the night Christopher Nolan had been waiting for as he snagged two major wins. Oppenheimer walked away with several awards, including Best Director and Best Picture of 2023. The film details of Robert J. Oppenheimer’s rise to glory and success in creating the atomic bomb, one that would lead to heavy consequences and a completely altered world for nearly the next century. Nolan is known for his dedication to tell a story as authentically as possible through visual effects, music, dialogue, and his cast. It only seemed natural that this was his year to take home the most gold.

Each year, we always hope to see more people represented, and more of our favorite films be recognized. This year’s nominees in every given category proved to be a testament to the diversity that can be found within film and the stories that storytellers choose to present. And you can bet that movie lovers everywhere are already planning out who will take home the Oscars next year. With that said, we’ll see you here again next year for the 2025 Oscars Ceremony.

You can check out a full list of the winners here on the Oscars website.

Pooja Chand
Pooja Chand
Known on other platforms as Samosas and Popcorn, Pooja is a movie enthusiast topped with sprinkles of her love for TV. She can typically be found watching anything from the latest blockbuster movie to a feel good anime, and is always ready to start the discussion on movies and TV so you don't have to.

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