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Canadians win Oscars for sound mixing and animated short

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Feb 25th, 2019

Queen launched Sunday’s Oscars with a medley of hits that gave the hostless 91st Academy Awards a distinctly Grammy-like flavour as Hollywood’s most prestigious ceremony sought to prove that it’s still “champion of the world” after last year’s record-low ratings.

Singer Adam Lambert, who has been touring with the band, replaced Freddie Mercury, the subject of the best-picture nominee “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Though the opening number was known, the feel of an Oscars without a host for only the second time in decades had been a mystery.

Following Queen, the motion picture academy ran of montage of the year’s movies before Tina Fey — alongside Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph — welcomed the Dolby Theatre audience to “the one-millionth Academy Awards.” The trio ran through the kind of jokes, they said, they would have said if they were, in fact, hosting.

Rudolph summarized the situation: “There is no host, there won’t be a popular movie category and Mexico is not paying for the wall.”

They then presented best supporting actress to Regina King for her pained matriarch in Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The crowd gave King a standing ovation for her first Oscar.

“To be standing here representing one of the greatest artist of our time, James Baldwin, is a little surreal,” said King. “James Baldwin birthed this baby.”

Spike Lee won his first competitive Oscar while the motion picture academy spread around awards for Ryan Coogler’s superhero sensation “Black Panther,” Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white personal epic “Roma,” and the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” at a brisk, hostless Oscars awash in historic wins for diversity.

Lee’s win for best adapted screenplay to his white supremacist drama “BlacKkKlansman” gave the Dolby Theatre ceremony Sunday 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.

Lee, whose film including footage of President Donald Trump following the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke about the upcoming election.

“The 2020 election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s be on the right side of history,” said Lee, who was given an honorary Oscar in 2015. “Let’s do the right thing! You knew I had to get that in there.”

The biggest surprise of the night, was in the best actress category. Olivia Colman won for her 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.

“Ooo. It’s genuinely quite stressful,” said a staggered Colman, who later turned to Close to say she was her idol, “And this is not how I wanted it to be.”

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” won four awards despite pans from many critics and sexual assault allegations against its director, Bryan Singer, who was fired in mid-production.

Its star, Rami Malek, won best actor for his full-bodied and prosthetic teeth-aided performance.

“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself,” said Malek. “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.”

The film was honoured for editing and sound editing as well as sound mixing — a category that saw Canadian sound engineer Paul Massey take home the coveted prize.

He won the trophy alongside Tim Cavagin and John Casali in the best sound mixing category.

“I would like to dedicate this to my kids,” he said, naming them in his acceptance speech. “I love you all. Thank you.”

Massey also thanked the film’s producers, sound crew and members of rock band Queen, who are the subject of the film.

“A massive shout-out to Brian May and Roger Taylor,” Massey said. “Thank you so much for your music and for your collaboration and your support.”

It was the eighth Oscar nomination for Massey, who was born in England but early in his career lived in Toronto for 13 years before moving to Los Angeles.

His other nominations include the films “The Martian” by Ridley Scott, with whom he’s worked on several projects, “3:10 to Yuma,” “Walk the Line” and “Legends of the Fall.”

Massey’s award was soon followed by another Canadian win — Toronto-raised director Domee Shi won her first Oscar for her animated short film “Bao.”

Shi wrote and directed the Pixar production, about a Chinese-Canadian woman with empty-nest syndrome who dotes on an adorable little dumpling that miraculously springs to life at the dinner table. The eight-minute film is set in Toronto and features many of the city’s landmarks.

Shi was born in China and moved to Toronto with her family at age two. She used her upbringing and love of food as inspiration for “Bao,” which played in theatres with “Incredibles 2.”

“I’m an only child, so I’ve always been that overprotected little dumpling for my whole life,” she said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

“I just wanted to use this short to explore that relationship between an overprotective parent and a child, using this magical metaphor.”

Shi, who shares the Oscar with producer Becky Neiman-Cobb, also thanked her parents and her partner for his support and for being her “human stressball.”

A graduate of the animation program at Ontario’s Sheridan College, Shi is the first woman to direct a short film at Pixar, where she works.

She beat out two other animated films by Canadians for the Oscar — “Weekends” by Hamilton-born Trevor Jimenez and “Animal Behaviour” by Vancouver-based couple David Fine and Alison Snowden.

“To all of the nerdy girls out there who hide behind their sketch books — don’t be afraid to tell your stories to the world,” Shi said onstage in her acceptance speech, which also thanked her parents and her partner.

“You’re going to freak people out but you’ll probably connect with them, too, and that’s an amazing feeling to have. Thank you to (executive producer) Pete Docter for believing in my weirdness and for giving me a voice at the studio.”

“Bao” was one of three short-film ideas she had presented to a panel of Pixar representatives as part of an open call for pitches at the studio in 2015. Shi is now working on a feature film.

Sunday’s show also featured two Toronto-raised presenters — Mike Myers and Stephan James.

Myers, who plays a record executive in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” did a “Wayne’s World” bit with Dana Carvey onstage as they presented the film as a best-picture nominee.

“Wayne’s World” features a famous scene in which the duo’s rock-worshipping characters sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in their car.

“’Bohemian Rhapsody’ played a large part in the success of ‘Wayne’s World,”’ said Myers, wearing his Order of Canada pin. “We’re humbled to be associated with that brilliant song.”

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 Göransson’s score. Beachler had been the first African-American to ever be nominated in the category. Beachler and Carter became just the second and third black women to win non-acting Oscars.

“It just means that we’ve opened the door,” Carter, a veteran costume designer, said backstage. “Finally, the door is wide open.”

Two years after winning for his role in “Moonlight,” Mahershala Ali won again for his supporting performance in the interracial road-trip drama “Green Book” — a role many said was really a lead. Ali is the second black actor to win two Oscars following Denzel Washington, who won for “Glory” and “Training Day.” Ali dedicated the award to his grandmother.

“Green Book,” a film hailed by some as a throwback and criticized by others as retrograde, also took best original screenplay.

The night’s co-lead nominee “Roma,” which is favoured to hand Netflix its first best picture win, notched Mexico’s first foreign language film Oscar. Cuaron also won best cinematography, becoming the first director to ever win for serving as his own director of photography. Cuaron referenced an especially international crop of nominees.

“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, while “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 inclusivity of the winners Sunday stood in stark contrast to the #OscarsSoWhite backlash that marked the 2016 and 2015 Oscars. Since then, the academy has worked to diversity its largely white and male membership, adding several thousand new members and opening the academy up internationally.

More women won Oscars than ever before. Still, this year’s nominations were criticized for not including a female best director nominee or a best-picture nominee directed by a woman.

Though the once presumed front-runner “A Star Is Born” appeared to flame out as awards season continued, it won, as expected, for the song “Shallow,” which Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed during the ceremony. As she came off the stage, Cooper had his arm around Gaga as she asked, “Did I nail it?”

Best documentary went to Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s “Free Solo,” which chronicles rock climber Alex Honnold’s famed, free solo ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan, a 3,000-foot wall of sheer granite, without ropes or climbing equipment. “Free Solo” was among a handful of hugely successful documentaries last year including the nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg documentary “RBG” and the snubbed Fred Rogers doc “Won’t You Be My Neighbour.”

“Thank you Alex Honnold for teaching us to believe in the impossible,” said Vasarhelyi. “This film is for everyone who believes in the impossible.”

Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” won makeup and hairstyling for its extensive physical transformations.

The category was one of the four that the academy initially planned to present during a commercial break and as its winners — Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney — dragged on in a litany of thank-yous, they were the first to have their microphone cut off.

To turn around ratings, Oscar producers pledged a shorter show.

In the academy’s favour was a popular crop of nominees: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “A Star Is Born” and, most of all, “Black Panther” have all amassed huge sums in ticket sales. Typically, when there are box-office hits (like “Titanic”), more people watch the Oscars.

The list of the winners at the 91st Academy Awards:
Best picture: “Green Book”
Best actress: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Best actor: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Best director: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
Best supporting actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Best supporting actor: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Foreign language film: Mexico’s “Roma”
Original screenplay: “Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly
Adapted screenplay: “BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee
Original Song: “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born,” music and lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt.
Cinematography: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”
Best animated film: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Original Score: “Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
Costume design: Ruth Carter, “Black Panther”
Production design: “Black Panther”
Sound Editing: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Sound Mixing: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Film Editing: John Ottman, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Animated short film: “Bao”
Documentary short subject: “Period. End of Sentence”
Visual effects: “First Man”
Live action short film: “Skin”
Documentary feature: “Free Solo”
Makeup and hairstyling: “Vice”

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