I'm about to say something terribly controversial, but I stand behind it: The Oscars should never have another host again. Bear with me—I have my reasons. This year, by forgoing a host—and all the accompanying forced jokes and awkward interludes—we were able to experience the most enjoyable aspects of the show, with the best of the best doing what they do best: being legends.
Within the first 20 minutes, records were broken, like the one Ruth Carter smashed with her victory for Black Panther when she became the first African-American woman to win for Best Costume Design. Plus, the Melissa McCarthy bit beforehand—dressed in full Elizabethan costuming while doing bunny puppetry, as a shout-out to everyone who saw The Favourite—was an extra-special nice touch. Legend. Puppet Legend.
The award for Best Documentary Short was inspiring, not only because it forced mainstream America to listen to an important term called “menstrual inequity” that everyone should know about, but also because it was perfectly summed up by the phrase, "A period should end a sentence, not a girl's education." This fantastic win also allowed for period jokes in a formal setting where you can get maximum impact for irreverence, so there’s that, too. Legend … period.
Rami Malek gave a particularly touching acceptance speech for Best Actor where he talked about his love for his family, and the camera panned to his sweet mother, who was crying. It was still not Regina King-level, but what he said about being a first-generation American whose parents had emigrated from Egypt was so poignant, given the current political state we are in. It was a great reminder about the gift that opening our borders up to people everywhere can ultimately bring—the rare and unifying gift of art. Plus, don’t even get me started on all the parallels between Malek and Freddie Mercury, and how brilliantly Malek embodied a man whose equal we’ll never see. First-generation legends.
It was a great reminder about the gift that opening our borders up to people everywhere can ultimately bring—the rare and unifying gift of art.
This was a year for changing things up beyond the usual format, as we saw a record-breaking number of women and African-American artists win big. Seven black individuals won Oscars, which bested the last record set in 2017 by two. Ruth Carter was the first black woman to ever win her category, and Hannah Beachler was not only the first woman of color to win, but to even be nominated, in her category. Likewise, 15 women won Oscars this year, versus only six last year, and the momentum shift was especially apparent when the aforementioned award for Best Documentary Short went to a film about menstruation.
Sunday’s Oscars reminded us of the excitement that comes from an upset, and the satisfaction of record-breaking wins. The magic that can come from combining the most elevated construct—like charismatic celebrities dressed to the nines and ready to perform their best scenes as themselves—with the everyday moments of authenticity propelled by surprise, genuine gratitude and self-deprecating humor. By forgoing a host this year and expanding the concept of what an Oscar winner looks like, the ceremony was able to let the real talent shine and showcase what we really wanted to see, what we were there to see in the first place … the legends.