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In an upset, ‘Green Book’ wins best picture

Feb 26,2019
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From left: Rami Malek, winner of the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Olivia Colman, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role for “The Favourite,” Regina King, winner of the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and Mahershala Ali, winner of the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for “Green Book,” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. [AP/YONHAP]
LOS ANGELES - The segregation-era road-trip drama “Green Book” was crowned best picture at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday, handing Hollywood’s top award to a film seen as a feel-good throwback by some and ridiculed as an outdated inversion of “Driving Miss Daisy” by others.

In a year where Hollywood could have made history by bestowing best-picture on Netflix (“Roma”) or Marvel (“Black Panther”) for the first time, the motion picture academy instead threw its fullest support behind a traditional interracial buddy tale that proved as popular as it was divisive. But Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” weathered criticism that it was retrograde and inauthentic to triumph over more acclaimed films and bigger box-office successes.

It was an unexpected finale to a hostless ceremony that was also awash in historic wins for diversity, including Spike Lee’s first competitive Oscar.

Lee, whose “Do the Right Thing” came out the same year that “Driving Miss Daisy” won best picture, was among those most visibly upset by the award handed to “Green Book.” After presenter Julia Roberts announced it, Lee stood up, waved his hands in disgust and appeared to try to leave the Dolby Theatre before returning.

“Green Book” also won best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali and best original screenplay.

“The whole story is about love,” said Farrelly, a comedy veteran of broad comedies, such as “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary.” “It’s about loving each other despite the differences and find out the truth about who we are. We’re the same people.”

The Oscars otherwise spread awards around for Ryan Coogler’s superhero sensation “Black Panther,” Alfonso Cuaron’s personal epic “Roma” and the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Lee’s win for best adapted screenplay for his white supremacist drama “BlacKkKlansman,” an award he shared with three co-writers, gave the ceremony its signature moment. The crowd rose in a standing ovation, Lee leapt into the arms of presenter Samuel L. Jackson and even the backstage press room burst into applause.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was in the best actress category. Olivia Colman won for her portrayal of Queen Anne in the royal romp “The Favourite,” denying Glenn Close her first Oscar. Close remains the most-nominated living actor never to win, with seven nominations.

“Ooh. It’s genuinely quite stressful,” said a staggered Colman, who later turned to Close to say she was her idol.

The night’s co-lead nominee “Roma” won best director and best cinematography for Cuaron, whose film also notched Mexico’s first foreign language film Oscar. Cuaron, who become the first director to ever win for serving as his own director of photography, referenced an especially international crop of nominees in one of his three acceptance speeches.

“When asked about the New Wave, Claude Chabrol said there are no waves, there is only the ocean,” said Cuaron, referring to the French filmmaker. “The nominees tonight have proven that we are a part of the same ocean.”

The wins for “Roma” gave Netflix its most significant awards yet, but “Green Book” denied the streaming giant the best-picture win it dearly sought. Netflix remains to some a contentious force in Hollywood, since it largely bypasses theaters. The wins for “Black Panther” - along with best animated film winner “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” - meant the first Academy Awards for Marvel, the most consistent blockbuster factor Hollywood has ever seen.’

The lush, big-budget craft of “Black Panther” won for Ruth Carter’s costume design, Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart’s production design, and Ludwig Goransson’s score.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” which kicked off the ABC telecast with a performance by Queen, won four awards despite pans from many critics and sexual assault allegations against its director, Bryan Singer, who was fired mid-production for not showing up. Its star, Rami Malek, won best actor for his full-bodied and prosthetic teeth-aided performance, and the film was honored for editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself,” said Malek who after the ceremony collapsed and was attended to by medics. “We’re longing for stories like this. I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I’m a first-generation American, and part of my story is being written right now.”

AP