Oscars 2019 review: Women win in record numbers, ratings rise, host-free format works

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Regina King best supporting actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk” at the 2019 Oscars.

Women won big at the 91st Academy Awards, picking up a record 15 trophies, the most in Oscar history.

With 39 male winners at last week’s ceremony, that means women earned nearly 27.8 percent of the statuettes handed out, according to The Wrap.

That beat out the previous record set in both 2007 and reached again in 2015, when women earned a total of 12 statuettes, including for the two actress categories.

The record number of wins in 2019 was a welcome turnaround after just six women earned Oscars at last year’s ceremony, compared with 33 male winners. That’s little more than 15 percent. It was the lowest number of female winners since 2012’s show, when only four women took home Academy Awards.

Women accounted for 27.5 percent of all the Oscar nominees this year, a slight uptick from last year’s record-setting year, in which only 26.8 percent of the nominations went to women, according to The Wrap.

Of the 225 individuals nominated this year in the 24 competitive categories, 62 women were named, based on a tally from TheWrap. That’s compared to just 57 of 213 individual nominees in 2018 (26.8 percent), and 48 of 211 in 2017 (22.7 percent).

Ruth E. Carter won best costume design for “Black Panther” at the 2019 Academy Awards.

Even better, several of this year’s women winners were women of color, including “Black Panther’s” Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler, who became the first black costume designer and first black production designer, respectively, to receive Academy Awards.

As I noted in my post-Oscars report on my BAM’s Blog, other women of color who also took home Oscars included Regina King as the best supporting actress winner for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi =as one of the directors of the best documentary feature “Free Solo”; and Domee Shi as the director of the best animated short “Bao.”

Rayka Zehtabchi, the director of the best documentary short “Period. End of Sentence.,” became the first Iranian-American woman to take home an Oscar. She also got in the best line of the Feb. 24 ceremony, when she exclaimed, “I’m not crying because I’m on my period, or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!”

Here is the full list of women to win Oscars this year, per The Wrap:

  • Ruth Carter, costume design for “Black Panther”
  • Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Shannon Dill, documentary feature for “Free Solo” (shared with Jimmy Chin and Evan Hayes)
  • Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton, documentary short for “Period. End of Sentence.”
  • Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney, makeup and hairstyling for “Vice” (shared with Greg Cannom)
  • Hannah Beachler, costume design for “Black Panther” (shared with Jay Hart)
  • Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb, animated short for “Bao”
  • Jaime Ray Newman, live-action short for “Skin” (shared with Guy Nattiv)
  • Nina Hartstonesound editing for “Bohemian Rhapsody” (shared with John Warhurst)
  • Lady Gaga, original song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” (shared with Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt)
  • Regina King, best supporting actress for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk”
  • Olivia Colman, best actress winner for “The Favourite”

Despite the big wins for women, the 2019 Academy Award winners were a bit of a mixed bag. As I noted in my BAM’s Blog Oscars review, the critically maligned “Bohemian Rhapsody” – an overpriced, truth-twisting, extended “Behind the Music” episode that was not nearly as interesting as a Queen biopic should be – earned a leading four Oscars, including best actor for Rami Malek.

The poignant “Roma,” groundbreaking “Black Panther” and controversial “Green Book” each snagged three Oscars each, with “Green Book” nabbing best picture – and proving a rather unpopular choice with many film fans on social media (and for yours truly, since the film is good rather than great and has a problematic history and perspective on race relations).

“Green Book’s” Mahershala Ali made history for becoming the first back actor to win best supporting actor twice. Iconic filmmaker Spike Lee won his first competitive Oscar for penning the screenplay to the thrilling fact-based drama “BlackKklansman.”

Olivia Colman won best actress for “The Favourite” at the 2019 Academy Awards.

In addition, the ratings for the 91st Academy Awards telecast rose slightly from last year, according to Variety. In the time zone-adjusted fast national ratings, the awards show drew a 7.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 29.6 million viewers on Feb. 24.

That is up from a 6.8 rating and 26.5 million in 2018. That is an increase of approximately 12 percent in total viewers and 13 percent in the key demographic.

While that’s an increase from last year’s historic low, this year was the second smallest audience ever for an Academy Awards telecast, according to the trade publication.

The awards show, which went without a host this year, drew a 20.6 rating in metered market households, up approximately 6 percent from the 18.9 last year’s telecast drew.

The 2018 Oscars’ household rating was down approximately 16 percent from the 22.5 rating drawn by the telecast in 2017. The 2018 Oscars initially drew a 6.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 24.4 million viewers before rising to a 6.8 rating and 26.5 million. That final number is the lowest viewership for an Oscars telecast in the show’s history, according to Variety.

As I reported on my BAM’s Blog Oscars preview, that historic low prompted ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to introduce various ideas for trimming the broadcast and boosting its ratings. Many of the ideas, including the introduction of a category for “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” and the decision to give out some of the awards during commercial breaks, were roundly criticized and dropped. Coupled with the fruitless search for a host – which culminated in the hiring, backlash and resignation of Kevin Hart – it made for a fraught lead-up to Hollywood’s biggest night.

Except for an awkward ending, the host-free format actually worked to create a briskly entertaining broadcast. The Academy mustered enough star power and comedy chops – the trio of “Saturday Night Live” veterans Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph were particularly hilarious – to keep the three-hour, 20-minute show interesting without demanding a huge commitment from – or having to provide a significant platform for – any one entertainer.

To read my full recap of the 2019 Oscars, click here.



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