Oscars Spread the Love to a Diverse Field of Winners

February 25, 2019

By Carlo Versano

In the end, Netflix's full-court, $25 million Oscar press couldn't quite overcome the Academy's current preference for feel-good, didactic storytelling.

"Green Book," a movie based on the true story of a famous black pianist's bond with his white driver as they traverse the Jim Crow south, may have drawn controversy among critics, but it nevertheless gathered statues through award season, culminating in a Best Picture win on Sunday night at the 91st Academy Awards.

The film bested "Roma," the critical darling that would have marked the first Best Picture win for Netflix ($NFLX) and solidified the streaming giant's power as a Hollywood kingmaker. Even without the top prize, the black-and-white movie about domestic workers in 1970s Mexico landed Netflix its best Oscar night yet, with wins for Best Director, Cinematography, and Foreign Language Film. Netflix also took home an award for "Period. End of Sentence" for Documentary Short.

"Bohemian Rhapsody," the Freddie Mercury biopic that became an unlikely box office smash despite middling reviews, took home four awards ー the best showing for a year when there was no obvious runaway winner, and each Best Picture nominee won at least one award. Rami Malek won Best Actor for his portrayal of the Queen frontman. In his acceptance speech, Malek struck a note of inclusivity (one of many in a night that spotlighted diversity): “We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself,” he said. “The fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”

In one of the surprises of the night, Olivia Colman took home Best Actress for her role in period dramedy "The Favourite" ー the only win for that critically adored film. Colman beat Glenn Close, who was heavily favored to win for "The Wife." Despite being nominated seven times, Close has yet to win an Oscar.

"Black Panther," which had become the first comic-book adaptation to earn a nomination for Best Picture, took home a handful of technical awards for costume, production design, and score.

And Spike Lee won his first real Oscar (he won an honorary award in 2015), though not for his directing work. Lee picked up the Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "BlackKklansman." The outspoken director also made for one of the night's most-talked-about moments, when he slammed "Green Book" backstage: "Every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose!" Lee said ("Do the Right Thing," considered his career-defining film, was snubbed in 1990, when "Driving Miss Daisy" took home top honors).