91st Academy Awards Had No Host But There Were Plenty Of Winners Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody were big winners at Sunday night's Academy Awards. Green Book won three including best picture. Bohemian Rhapsody won four including best actor for Rami Malek.
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91st Academy Awards Had No Host But There Were Plenty Of Winners

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91st Academy Awards Had No Host But There Were Plenty Of Winners

91st Academy Awards Had No Host But There Were Plenty Of Winners

91st Academy Awards Had No Host But There Were Plenty Of Winners

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/697615984/697615985" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody were big winners at Sunday night's Academy Awards. Green Book won three including best picture. Bohemian Rhapsody won four including best actor for Rami Malek.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The suspense at last night's Academy Awards had been over who would get best picture. Would "Roma" become the first foreign-language film to win? Would "Black Panther" be the first superhero movie to get the Oscar? Or could a Spike Lee movie, "BlacKkKlansman" win the top prize? NPR's Mandalit del Barco was on the red carpet and in the press room at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood to report.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: In the end, "Green Book" took home the Oscar for best picture. The movie is set in the Deep South in 1962, a story about African-American pianist Don Shirley and his Italian-American driver Tony Vallelonga. Here's producer Jim Burke.

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JIM BURKE: We made this film with love and we made it with tenderness. We made it with respect.

DEL BARCO: Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor for his work in the film playing Don Shirley whose essence, he said, that he tried to capture. But when they won for best picture, the filmmakers did not thank Shirley, whose family contested the story. It was co-written by Vallelonga's son Nick, who picked up the Oscar for original screenplay. In the pressroom, Vallelonga defended his version, saying that Shirley had given him his blessing to tell his dad's story.

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NICK VALLELONGA: He told me, if you're going to tell the story, you tell it from your father, me - no one else. Don't speak to anyone else. That's how you have to make it. And also, he told me don't make it till after I pass away. I'm an Italian from New York. They call that a stand-up guy. I kept my word to the man.

DEL BARCO: Vallelonga said he was nervous onstage, and he wasn't the only one.

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OLIVIA COLMAN: Ooh, it's genuinely quite stressful.

(LAUGHTER)

COLMAN: Ah (laughter), this is hilarious.

(LAUGHTER)

DEL BARCO: A delightedly befuddled Olivia Colman seemed genuinely surprised to beat out Glenn Close for her best actress Oscar. Colman won for her role as Queen Anne in "The Favourite."

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COLMAN: And any little girl who is practicing their speech on the telly, you never know. I used to work as a cleaner, and I loved that job. I did spend quite a lot of my time imagining that - oh, please wrap up. Right. OK. (Blows raspberry). And...

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

COLMAN: Thank you.

DEL BARCO: Another genuine moment of levity in the show was when Samuel L. Jackson opened the envelope for best adapted screenplay - "BlacKkKlansman."

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SAMUEL L JACKSON: Spike Lee.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: Spike Lee bounded onstage to jump on and embrace his old friend. He talked about Black History Month and his late grandmother.

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SPIKE LEE: She called me Spiky-Poo (ph).

DEL BARCO: Then he said this about the next presidential election.

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LEE: Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let's do the right thing.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

LEE: You know I had to get that in there.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: Decades after his movie "Do The Right Thing" exploded on the screen, this was Lee's first competitive win. In 1983, he won a student Academy Award for "Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads." And in 2015, he earned an honorary Oscar. In the pressroom, Lee sipped champagne and joked around as he answered reporters' questions about whether he felt slighted for not winning a competitive Oscar sooner.

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LEE: No, I thought I was courtside at the Garden and the ref made a bad call.

(LAUGHTER)

DEL BARCO: Marvel's superhero movie "Black Panther" didn't win for best picture either, but it did win for original score. And its production designer, Hannah Beachler, made history. She became the first African-American to win in her category. And "Black Panther's" costume designer, Ruth Carter, was also the first black person to win in hers.

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RUTH CARTER: Wow. Wow. I got it.

(APPLAUSE)

CARTER: Wow. This has been a long time coming.

(APPLAUSE)

CARTER: Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: One of the most touching moments in the show was an intimate duet with "A Star Is Born's" Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, who won an Oscar for Original Song.

BRADLEY COOPER AND LADY GAGA: (Singing) In the sha-ha, shallow - we're far from the shallow now.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: There was no official host to the telecast, just a slew of celebrities presenting film clips and awards. Comedians Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph kicked off the ceremony

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MAYA RUDOLPH: So just a quick update for everybody in case you're confused - there is no host tonight, there won't be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall.

(LAUGHTER)

DEL BARCO: Mexico did, however, win an Oscar for foreign language film for Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma." Five of the past six best directing Oscars have gone to directors from Mexico, including this year to Alfonso Cuaron. His work on "Roma" also earned him a best cinematography Oscar. He wrote the black-and-white film in Spanish and Mixtec from his childhood memories about his Oaxacan nanny.

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ALFONSO CUARON: I want to thank the academy for recognizing a film centered around an indigenous woman, one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights, a character that historically had been relegated in the background in cinema.

DEL BARCO: Someone definitely not in the background was Rami Malek's Freddie Mercury. Malek won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of the Queen frontman in the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody," which took home four trophies in all.

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RAMI MALEK: I think about what it would have been like to tell little Bubba Rami that one day this might happen to him. And I think his curly-haired little mind would be blown.

DEL BARCO: In the pressroom, Malek told reporters he was the son of immigrants from Egypt.

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MALEK: I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me. I never thought that I could possibly play Freddie Mercury until I realized his name was Farrokh Bulsara.

DEL BARCO: The filmmakers behind "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" talked about wanting to make people feel powerful and seen. The movie won the Oscar for animated feature film. Here's producer Phil Lord and director Peter Ramsey who became the first African-American to win in this category.

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PHIL LORD: So when we hear that somebody's kid was watching the movie and turned to them and said, he looks like me - or they speak Spanish like us, we feel like we already won.

PETER RAMSEY: We want you all to know we see you. You're powerful. This world needs you. Please, we're all counting on you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: And a postscript for those NPR listeners who've been paying close attention - on the red carpet before the show got underway, I caught up with my colleague Nina Totenberg. Our legal affairs correspondent was in the film "RBG," which was nominated for best documentary.

How do you think this is going to help your career?

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: (Laughter) I don't know that it'll help my career. But I'll have a lot of fun. And I'll be able to say I went to the Oscars.

DEL BARCO: But the notorious RBG herself, Ruth Bader Ginsburg - she stayed in Washington to tend to her day job on the Supreme Court. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Hollywood.

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