This year’s Oscars were an expectedly slap-free affair — but Team TVLine still managed to single out a dozen memorable moments from Hollywood’s biggest night.
In fact, even without the new “Did anybody get smacked?” litmus test for controversy, Sunday’s telecast could be considered quite tame. Even the (real) donkey and (fake) Cocaine Bear were on their best behavior!
In the list below, we’ve distilled the three-plus-hour ceremony into 12 moments that were noteworthy for better or worse. In many ways, the 95th Oscars were wonderfully emotional, with Ke Huy Quan’s teary acceptance speech and the Dolby Theatre’s “Happy Birthday” singalong for James Martin among our favorite interludes. But the broadcast had its low points, too. For instance, what was up with that performance of Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s Oscar-nominated song “This Is a Life”? It featured hot dog fingers, and that’s not the part that baffled us.
ABC’s red carpet pre-show, meanwhile, had its own uncomfortable moments, including a cringey Q&A with Hugh Grant that couldn’t have ended soon enough. (We suspect he felt that way, too.)
Keep scrolling for our recap of the night’s best and worst moments, then grade Sunday’s broadcast of the Oscars in our poll.
WORST: The Cringe Carpet
It’s tougher than it looks to be a red carpet correspondent, but Hugh Grant showed no mercy to poor Ashley Graham, responding to her pre-show softballs with absolutely zero enthusiasm. (Watch the mega-awkward exchange here.) We do suspect Graham could have prepped a little better for the gig, though: Later on ABC’s Countdown to Oscars, she shut down Pedro Pascal’s excitement to see Rihanna perform by telling him Rihanna wasn’t performing… when she most definitely was. C’mon, producers in Graham’s ear; help a girl out.
As for Grant, he redeemed himself a bit during the actual Oscars telecast, self-deprecatingly referring to himself as “basically a scrotum” compared to Andie MacDowell and her lovely complexion.
BEST: Bugging Out
As host Jimmy Kimmel elaborated on his protective detail (should anyone make a dash for the stage to slap him), he rattled off formidable “attendees” such as Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and… Spider-Man, as the camera cut to Andrew Garfield giving a rightly sheepish grin.
BEST: Achieving the American Dream
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s Ke Huy Quan won for Best Supporting Actor, then used his platform to encourage others to never stop dreaming. “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp — and somehow, I ended up here, on Hollywood’s biggest stage,” he said. “They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it is happening to me. This, this, is the American dream.” And if you thought this moment couldn’t possibly get any sweeter, there was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom director Steven Spielberg looking on like a proud papa. (Way to go, Short Round!)
BEST: Oh Happy Day!
How sweet was it when the producers of Best Live-Action Short winner An Irish Goodbye made a point to sing “Happy Birthday” to star James Martin, who turned 31 this Oscars day?
WEIRDEST: The Little Mermaid's Big Moment
We expected Sunday night’s broadcast to include lots of flowery tributes to this year’s nominated films — and it did! What we weren’t expecting was a segment dedicated to the unveiling of the Little Mermaid live-action trailer, complete with an orchestral version of “Part of Your World” and enthusiastic build-up from stars Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy. The trailer, which you can watch in full here, is delightful… but strange to put a commercial in the spotlight in the middle of the Oscars, no?
BEST: Angela Bassett Gets Her Kudos
The camera never panned over to Angela Bassett, but we knew exactly who Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors were speaking to when they offered some support to a certain audience member. “Hey, auntie,” Jordan said upon taking the stage, referencing one of his most famous lines from Black Panther. “We love you,” Majors added, elegantly rallying around Bassett after she lost the Best Supporting Actress award to Jamie Lee Curtis earlier in the evening. Those who MCU together, stay together.
WORST: All Pitches, All at Once
What in the multiverse was going on during that performance of Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s “This Is a Life?” David Byrne, Son Lux and the movie’s Stephanie Hsu (who filled in for original artist Mitski) sounded jarringly off pitch for much of the trippy interlude. Eh, at least the hot dog fingers rocked.
BEST: Donkey Business
We’re a sucker for animals, so we grinned from ear to long ear when Jimmy Kimmel brought Jenny from The Banshees of Inisherin on stage as an “emotional support donkey.” And have you ever seen Colin Farrell more elated than when he locked eyes with his four-legged co-star? We’re saying a prayer for Brendan Gleeson’s fingers, though. (Plot twist: Not the real Jenny! But still a great moment.)
BEST: 'A Total Banger'
Presenter Deepika Padukone promised “an irresistibly catchy chorus, electrifying beats and killer dance moves to match” when she introduced original song nominee “Naatu Naatu” from the motion picture RRR — and performers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava delivered all that and then some. It was, indeed, “a total banger,” and one of the best performances of the night.
BEST: Biggest Trooper
Elizabeth Banks came this close to face-planting when she came out to present the award for visual effects. And when she opened her mouth, we discovered she was also suffering from an acute case of laryngitis. The least co-presenter Cocaine Bear could’ve done was read the teleprompter on her behalf!
WORST: All Wet
As Avatar: The Way of Water collected its first gold of the night, the visual effects team had just hit their acceptance speech’s allotted 45 seconds when the playoff music barged in. Just so that Kimmel could launch into a comedy bit with the audience? Those guys wanted to thank their families!
BEST: Hopelessly Devoted to ONJ
John Travolta’s tearful introduction of the In Memoriam segment, which kicked off with a tribute to his late Grease costar and friend Olivia Newton-John, was one of the night’s most poignant moments.//static.polldaddy.com/p/11906198.js Take Our Poll