The 91st Academy Awards were held in Los Angeles on Feb. 24 and Hollywood’s best films and biggest stars were honored for their achievements over the past year. Awards were doled out in 24 categories with “Roma” and “The Favourite” leading the list of nominations heading into the live ceremony, but the winners yielded some unexpected results.
Fans and critics alike wondered how the evening would go, as the Oscars were without a host for the first time in over 30 years. The short answer: It wasn’t that bad. The presenters cracked enough jokes to lighten the atmosphere and the musical performances were all stellar.
Queen fans were undoubtedly stoked to see Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Adam Lambert open the show with a killer medley. The critically-acclaimed biopic on the band and their late frontman Freddie Mercury, "Bohemian Rhapsody," led the list of winners, taking home four Oscars out of five nominations including a Best Actor win for Rami Malek.
Many more memorable moments ensued as the night progressed with “Black Panther” snagging two history-making wins, Spike Lee giving an epic acceptance speech, and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper giving a show-stopping performance of their chart-topping duet from "A Star Is Born."
We’ve ranked our picks for the 7 greatest moments from the 91st Academy Awards (2019 Oscars) below.
There was no better way to get the live and home viewing audience pumped for the 2019 Oscars than for Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor to rock an opening medley with their current touring frontman Adam Lambert. The trio delivered an electrifying medley of "We Will Rock You" followed by "We Are the Champions." Camera pans to the audience showed huge Hollywood stars like Glenn Close, Amy Adams and more dancing, singing and stomping along to the classic anthems. Plus, a picture of Freddie Mercury was displayed on a giant screen which made a brilliant banner over the performance.
Seeing Oscar-winning legend Barbra Streisand return to the Oscars stage was memorable by itself. However, the legendary actress made the moment extra special by sharing some love for iconic director Spike Lee while she introduced his Best Picture-nominated film “BlacKkKlansman."
Streisand pointed out they both love hats (they were both wearing one) and praised the movie saying, “When I first saw ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ I was stunned. I was very excited, and I was very moved. It had everything a great film should have. It was so real, so funny and yet so horrifying because it was based on the truth. And truth is especially precious these days." She also dubbed the film Lee's "masterpiece."
At the end of her speech, the "Evergreen" songstress seized the moment to make a political statement, noting the film takes an “unflinching look at race relations in America back in the 1970s” and adding she believes the movie is “just as relevant today.”
Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Maya Rudolph kicked the host-less Oscars festivities off on a light, funny note. Fey pointed out, “We're not your hosts, but we'll stand here a little too long so the people who look at USA Today tomorrow will think that we hosted.”
The famous trio joked about supporting each other as women, mimicked Lady Gaga’s belting wail in “Shallow,” and Rudolph even snuck in a dig at Donald Trump saying, “There is no host tonight, there won't be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall.” Hands down, they delivered the best non-monologue opening Oscars speech ever.
Acclaimed director Spike Lee took home his first competitive Oscar award in winning Best Adapted Screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman." The charismatic filmmaker was exceptionally gracious and somewhat emotional as he thanked many people, including his grandmother, who graduated from college though being the daughter of a slave. She notably saved 50 years of social security checks to put him through college.
He called attention to Black History month and noted the 400-year period between 1619 and 2019 during which “our ancestors were stolen from Africa and enslaved." He added, “Before the world tonight I give praise to my ancestors who built our country, along with the genocide of our native people. We all connect with ancestors, to regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment.”
Lee also gave a political call to action at the end of the speech urging people to “mobilize” because the 2020 election is “just around the corner.” He said, “Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”
“Black Panther” made huge headlines as it became the first Marvel Studios “superhero” film to get nominated for an Oscar. The film notably took home three 2019 Oscar wins with Ludwig Goransson winning Best Original Score. It also snagged two history-making wins as crew members Hannah Beachler and Ruth E. Carter became the first African American women to win Academy Awards in Production Design and Costume Design categories, respectively.
Beachler encouraged upcoming artists through happy tears in her emotional acceptance speech saying, “I give the strength to all of those who come next, to keep going, to never give up. And when you think it’s impossible, just remember to say this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: I did my best, and my best is good enough.”
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper arguably delivered one of the most highly-anticipated moments of the night with their intimate duet of "Shallow" from "A Star Is Born." The scene in the film where their characters perform the song live for the first time is a pivotal moment in their love story. The pair had amazing onscreen chemistry during that scene and in many other love scenes, which undoubtedly helped spur Cooper and Gaga's Best Actor and Best Actress nominations. They looked lovely together for the Oscars performance, seated at opposite ends of the piano, while Gaga played and harmonized with Cooper. At the end of the song, he came around to sit next to her on the piano bench. At the final note, they nuzzled their heads together with their eyes closed and then opened them to exchange a sweet smile. Fans have been going wild about the performance on social media, with many branding it "steamy," including a Washington Post review. It was a beautiful moment and one of the most talked about moments of the night.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” has resonated with viewers across multiple generations. To date, it has reportedly grossed over $860 million worldwide at the box office. Though "Roma" and "The Favourite" earned the most nominations, "Bohemian Rhapsody" ended up scoring the most Oscar wins with four total by the end of the night.
The Queen biopic won Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing awards with Rami Malek taking home the Lead Actor Oscar for his riveting portrayal of Freddie Mercury.
Malek joked a little in his acceptance speech saying, “I may not have been the obvious choice. But, I guess it worked out.” He thanked his family, his cast and crew. He thanked Queen for letting him be “the tiniest part of your phenomenal legacy. I am forever in your debt."
He reflected on being born from Egyptian parents as a first-generation American who struggled with identity as a kid. He added, "We made a film about a gay man and an immigrant who was unapologetically himself. [It's] proof we're longing for stories like this. Part of my story is being written right now, and I could not be more grateful." Overall, "Bohemian Rhapsody's" Oscar domination and Malek's moving acceptance speech (which is currently trending at No. 1 on Twitter) earns our pick for the most memorable moment of the night.