Ricky Gervais may have unleashed plenty of F-bombs during his divisive Golden Globes monologue, but Steve Martin and Chris Rock made the Oscar audience in the Dolby Theater and at home sit up and take notice by dropping the V-word. Midway through their shared opening monologue, the non-hosts of the 92nd Academy Awards said what everyone in the room was thinking — and what Natalie Portman was wearing. Reviewing the lists of nominees for Best Director, Martin mused: “I thought there was something missing this year.” After a beat, they both declared what that missing thing was to great applause: “Vaginas.” With apologies to Eve Ensler, you might say the duo delivered a... vagina monologue?
The lack of women directors wasn’t the only major omission that the two called out. Addressing the acting races, Rock credited Best Actress nominee Cynthia Erivo for doing “such a great job in Harriet hiding black people that the Academy got her to hide all the black nominees.” Rock gave a shout-out to one such snubbed soul: Dolemite Is My Name headliner, Eddie Murphy. “Cynthia, is Eddie Murphy under this stage?” Martin noted that there has been some progress since the first ceremony 91 years ago. “In 1929, there were no black acting nominees.” Added Rock ruefully: “Now in 2020, we got one.”
Unlike Gervais, Martin and Rock didn’t overtly call out Hollywood hypocrisy during their time onstage. But that doesn’t mean they went easy on everyone in the audience. Take Amazon head honcho, Jeff Bezos, who wore a noticeably strained smile as the actors fired shots at his much-publicized divorce. “Jeff Bezos is so rich, he got divorced and he’s still the richest man in the world,” said Rock. “He saw Marriage Story and thought it was a comedy!” Turning to Amazon’s rival streaming service, Netflix, Rock saluted Martin Scorsese for doing such a great job on “Season 1 of The Irishman.” And the mastermind behind the upcoming Saw reboot Spiral also had thoughts about another Best Picture nominee, Ford v. Ferrari: “I got a Ford, I got a Ferrari and it ain’t even close. That’s like Halle Berry versus gum disease.”
Before Martin and Rock started their vagina monologue, Janelle Monáe warmed the crowd up with a 21st century version of one of Billy Crystal’s 20th century Best Picture medleys. Taking the stage, the superstar singer proved why some enterprising producer needs to reboot Mr. Rogers Neighborhood as Ms. Monáe’s Neighborhood.
And then? Well, then things got weird in a delightful Cats-like way. The stage promptly filled up with dancers representing many of the Best Picture nominees, including period appropriate little women and clownish jokers. (The production did avoid going full “Springtime for Hitler” and left out the dancing Hitlers from Jojo Rabbit.) Monáe also morphed into her finest Midsommar garb to pay homage to some of the deserving movies that weren’t nominated, including several helmed by women. “Tonight we celebrate all the amazing talent in this room, we celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films,” she said. “And I’m so proud to stand here as a black queer artist telling stories.” We were proud to listen.
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