It was a marginally more entertaining and surprising year for the Academy Awards than it has been over the last few years, despite the much-talked-about whiteness that hung over the entire ceremony. (It was also, according to overnight numbers, the least-watched ceremony in eight years.) Not surprisingly, the fact that the entire show wasn’t as boring or disastrous as the last few years was thanks almost exclusively to Chris Rock, who once again proved that there are few people as funny, open, and audacious as the beloved comedian. It was inevitable that Rock would take on the lack of diversity in the Oscars, and he did so with his customary wit and observational vigor, without treading too far into the kind of grotesque, self-indulgent, and mean-spirited barbs that have denoted Ricky Gervais‘s turns as a master of ceremonies.
Of course, Rock wasn’t the only reason to tune into the awards, even if he was the most obvious. Lady Gaga and The Weeknd turned in superb performances of “Til It Happens to You” and “Earned It” respectively, while the Best Original Song ended up going to possibly the least-enjoyable song that was nominated, Sam Smith‘s Bond theme “Writing’s on the Wall.” Dave Grohl took to his acoustic guitar and covered The Beatles’ “Blackbird” to soundtrack the annual In Memoriam segment, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu gave an impassioned acceptance speech when he collected his second consecutive award for Best Director.
The best moments, however, were the long-awaited dues and the small tips of the hat…and that great bit with Tracy Morgan in The Danish Girl . Those would be Leonardo DiCaprio‘s long delayed Best Actor win for The Revenant, which partially forgave the fact that the performer didnt win for The Wolf of Wall Street, his best performance and the best film he’s been involved with in his career. Seeing Ennio Morricone on stage, accepting his similarly outrageously overdue award for his menacing, magnificent score for Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight, was one of those great pleasures that these awards so rarely offer. And it was somewhat impossibly not to get effected by Vice President Joe Biden‘s introduction of Lady Gaga’s performance, which doubled as a call to arms to stop sexual assaults on campus, the subject of The Hunting Ground, the documentary that Gaga’s song was written for.
We collected a handful of our favorite moments from last night, including Rock’s field trip to Compton and Louis C.K.‘s introduction to Best Documentary Short, for those who didn’t get to see the entire ceremony.
Here’s Chris Rock’s Opening Monologue:
Chris Rock Visits Compton:
Ennio Morricone’s Acceptance Speech:
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Acceptance Speech:
Vice President Joe Biden Introduces Lady Gaga:
Louis C.K. Introduces Best Documentary Short: