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Oscar surprises: ‘Green Book’ named best picture, and Olivia Colman a winner

Daniel Craig (left) presents Mahershala Ali with the award for best performance by a supporting actor for "Green Book," which went on to be named best picture. | Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

And the Oscar goes to…

“Green Book”?

Not “Roma” or “Black Panther” or “BlacKkKlansman”?

I wouldn’t call it a shocker, but it was definitely an upset — and a controversial choice given the animus many have directed toward the period-piece film for its historical inaccuracies and what some say is a whitewashing of the friendship between the brilliant musician Don Shirley and the bouncer-turned-driver Tony “Lip” Vallelonga.

A surprise of at least equal magnitude occurred when Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) took home best actress in a year when just about everyone, including yours truly, thought it was finally the year for Glenn Close, who had earned her seventh nomination for “The Wife.”

Colman was a bundle of nervous, wonderful, absolutely endearing charm as she delivered a heartfelt speech that for no real reason ended with, “Ohhhhhaa Lady Gaga!”

As all speeches should, if you’re looking at Lady Gaga looking up at you from the front row.

Olivia Colman of “The Favourite” heads backstage at the Oscars with the award for best actress. | Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S.

And how about this: “Bohemian Rhapsody” has more Oscars than “The Godfather.”

With four gold trophies, including a best actor win for Rami Malek, “Rhapsody” tallied one more win than the 1972 classic. (At least the latter film won some biggies: best picture, best actor for Marlon Brando and best adapted screenplay for Francis Coppola.)

I know. A lot of people loved “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I was not one of them. I’ll never be one of them. But congratulations to the filmmakers and to the performers for their big night on Hollywood’s biggest night.

In another onstage highlight, Spike Lee minced no words as he won his first non-honorary Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.” Lee started by proclaiming, “Do not turn that [expletive deleted] clock on!” before reading a speech written by hand on yellow notebook paper.

“The 2020 election is around the corner,” said Lee. “Let’s do the right thing!”

Spike Lee celebrates with frequent collaborator Samuel L. Jackson as he accepts the best adapted screenplay award for “BlacKkKlansman” from Samuel L. Jackson. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Shortly after Lee’s victory, Lady Gaga was onstage, unable to hold back the tears in accepting for “Shallow,” which won for best song — and nothing against the other nominees, but it would have been a CINEMATIC CRIME had anything else won.

The performance highlight of the night came when Gaga and Bradley Cooper delivered a rousing rendition of “Shallow,” which was particularly impressive when we remember Cooper is not a professional singer. Took a lot of guts to get up there, even with one of the world’s most electric entertainers as a buffer.

Regina King was a most deserving winner as best supporting actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and though I was rooting for Richard E. Grant in the supporting actor category, it’s hard to disagree with the choice of Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”), who won his second supporting actor Oscar in three years.

Can’t say I was surprised by the talented Rami Malek’s best actor win for his heartfelt portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” though I was hoping to the end it would be Christian Bale for “Vice.” Malek’s work was the best thing in the underwhelming and thoroughly conventional “Rhapsody,” but I’ll forever remain more impressed by musical performances that involve actual singing and not the mix of voices and lip-synching in this film. [As Rolling Stone reported, “Most singing scenes in the movie [come] from Queen master tapes or new recordings by Marc Martel, a Canadian Christian rock singer whose voice is practically identical to [Mercury’s].”

As for the show itself: Hmmmm, maybe the Oscars don’t really NEED a host after all.

For the first time in 30 years, the Academy Awards were without a host, and what do you know, the whole handing-out-trophies thing works just as well with a Disembodied Voice introducing the presenters.

Now, if they could just drop the tradition of showing trailer snippet clips from all of the nominated films. If you don’t know what “A Star Is Born” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” is about by now, you’re probably not watching the Oscars.

My favorite moments from the telecast included Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry outfitted in ludicrously over-the-top costumes while presenting the best costume award. They should win an award for THEIR costumes.


Full list of Oscar winners
Photo gallery: Fashion highlights from the Oscar red carpet

I also loved the entrance by Keegan-Michael Key, who descended from the rafters with a slow twirl while holding an umbrella, before he introduced Bette Midler singing “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns.” (The Divine Miss M was, well, divine.) Key’s entrance was pulled off with such sly style it almost seemed to take the crowd by surprise.

Another highlight: Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson delivering a powerful and moving performance of “I’ll Fight,” from the documentary “RGB.”

And kudos to the Academy for honoring the costumes and the production design from “Black Panther.” Well-deserved wins.

For not being hosts, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph sure did a fantastic job of giving us a glimpse of how great they would have been if they HAD hosted the 91st Annual Academy Awards.

Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler speak onstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The opening moments of this year’s Oscars were a little bit confusing, a little bit inspiring, a little bit political — and more than a little bit funny, thanks to the jokes from Rudolph, Poehler and Fey.

“We are not the hosts … and Mexico is not paying for the wall,” cracked Rudolph, giving us the first but most probably not the last political commentary of the evening.

Fey: “Hey, everybody look under your seats, you’re all getting one of those cheese sandwiches from the Fyre Festival!”

LOVED those three. Let’s sign ‘em up for the 92nd Annual Academy Awards!

Before the trio of comedic stars took the stage, we got a “cold open” featuring the Adam Lambert-fronted Queen performing “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions,” which appeared to be a big hit with Queen Latifah, Lady Gaga and even Glenn Close, judging from the cutaway shots of the star-studded crowd.

As award broadcasts go, it all worked pretty well.

Now if only we could get a “do-over” for a few key categories …