The 91st Academy Awards: Regina King, Olivia Colman, Mahershala Ali and Rami Malek Take Top Acting Honors

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The 91st Academy Awards have wrapped and as many reflect on the surprises and upsets overall Oscar voters broke records, spread the wealth and honored many with a much deserved statuette seeing only performance, effort and achievement.

Hollywood's biggest night kicked off with an electrifying performance by the original members of the rock band Queen. Roger Taylor and Brian May with Adam Lambert on lead vocals wowed the crowd with a melody of Queen hits.

It was a hopeful beginning as controversary left the evening without a host and no opening comedic monologue, pointed political jokes, shout outs to the nominees and if all went well a few laughs, in all the right places.

Rami Malek received the top acting honor for his preformance in Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury bio-pic. Regina King and  Mahershala Ali both took home the Oscar for their portrayals and the upset of the evening went to Olivia Colman who took the Best Actress prize.

The first major award of the evening Best Supporting Actress honors went to Regina King, who gave a power house performance as Sharon Rivers in the adaptation of the James Baldwin novel "If Beale Street Could Talk" directed by Barry Jenkins.

In her acceptance speech she said, "To be standing here representing one the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, it's a little surreal. James Baldwin birthed this baby and Barry, you nurtured her, you surrounded her with so much love and support, so it's appropriate for me to be standing here because I'm an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone. Mom, I love you so much. Thank you for teaching me that God is always leaning, always has been leaning in my direction. G'moses, they'll ask me about this later. Um, so many people to thank: Chelsea Barnard, who brought this project to Annapurna, Megan Ellison, Annapurna, Plan B, this amazing cast. My sisters in art: Marina, Amy, Emma, Rachel. It has been an honor having my name be just said with yours, this whole step of the way. It's been pretty amazing, the Rivers family, KiKi, Colman, Teyonah, Stephan. God is good all the time."


 

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The Best Supporting Actor prize went to Mahershala Ali for his performance of the piano virtuoso Dr. Shirley King, in the heartwarming film Green Book.

In his acceptance speech he said, "The Academy, thank you. I want to thank Dr. Shirley for just trying to capture his essence. Trying to capture Dr. Shirley's essence pushed me to my ends, which is a reflection of the person he was and the life that he lived. And I thank him. I thank my partner Viggo, it was extraordinary working with you. Peter Farrelly, I thank you for your leadership and your guidance. And for also giving us space; like really giving us space to work it out, and coming in and tweaking. And I really appreciate and love you. Octavia Spencer, Kris Bowers, my double. I want to dedicate this to my grandmother, who has been in my ear my entire life, telling me that if at first I don't succeed, try, try again, that I could do anything I put my mind to. Always, always pushing me to think positively. And I know I would not be here without her, that she has gotten me over the hump every step of the way. I thank my wife and my daughter Bari. I thank Universal, Participant, Amblin and everyone who contributed and helped with our movie. Again, thank you so much."

Best Actor went to Rami Malek for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant lead of the experimental rock band, Queen, in the 20th Century Fox Film Bohemian Rhapsody.

"Oh my god. My mom is in here somewhere. Oh, I love you, I love you, lady. My family, thank you for all of this. You know my dad didn't get to see me do any of this, he's not… but I think he's looking down on me right now. This is a monumental moment, one I'm so appreciative to all of you, to everyone who has had a hand in getting me here. To the Academy. To people who took a chance on me every step of the way, Graham King, Denis O'Sullivan, everyone at Fox and New Regency, thank you guys so much. I may not have been the obvious choice, but I guess it worked out. Thank you, Queen. Thank you guys for being, for allowing me to be the tiniest part of your phenomenal, extraordinary legacy. I am forever in your debt. My crew and my cast, I love you. You are my equals, you are my betters. I could have never been here without you.


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I think about, 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. That kid was, he was struggling with his identity, trying to figure himself out. And I think to anyone struggling with theirs and trying to discover their voice, listen we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself. And the fact that I'm celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that 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 and I could not be more grateful to each and every one of you, and everyone who believed in me for this moment. It is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Lucy Boynton, you're the heart of this film, you are beyond immensely talented, you have captured my heart. Thank you so much."

Best Actress, in a surprise, went to Olivia Colman for her role as Queen Anne in the Fox Searchlight Film The Favourite. Many had expected Glenn Close to take this honor. In fact, the top awards show prognosticators all believe this would be the year for Ms. Close who had been nominated for six previous performances. After winning every award for her portrayal of the long suffering Joan Castleman, in the Sony Pictures Classics film, The Wife, the Oscar was expected by all.

Ms. Colman, whose performance was courageous and outrageous, bi-sexual Queen, took The BAFTA which many believed was home court advantage, and not an indicator of a turn. The reverberation was captured as the five women, nominated as most deserving in this awards season, reacted to the announcement.


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In her acceptance speech Ms. Colman said, "It's genuinely quite stressful. This is hilarious. Got an Oscar. I have to thank lots of people. If by the way I forget anybody, I'm going to find you later and I'm going to give you all a massive snog and I'm really sorry if I might forget now. Yorgos, my best director, in the best film and with Emily and Rachel, the two loveliest women in the world to fall in love with and to go to work with every day. I mean, you can imagine, it wasn't a hardship. And to be in this category with these extraordinary women. And Glenn Close, you've been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be. And I think you're amazing and I love you very much. I love you all.

Thank you, Lindy King, my agent who took me on over 20 years ago. Thank you so much. And Olive and Hildy and Bryna, who make me do things that I've said no to but she was right. And my mum and my dad, well, you know. And my kids who are at home and watching, look. Well, if you're not, then kind of, well done. I sort of hope you are. This is not going to happen again.

And any little girl who is practicing their speech on the telly, you never know. And when I used to work as a cleaner, and I loved that job, I did spend quite a lot of my time imagining this. Oh, please wrap up. Right, okay. [Blows a raspberry.] Thank you. And my husband, Ed, my best friend. I love you so much, 25 years and you've been my best supporter. And he's going to cry. I'm not. Thank you so much. Fox, everybody, the cast and the crew, Frances [McDormand], Sam [Rockwell, the presenters]. Thank you. Thank you so much, Lady Gaga [blows a kiss], Melissa. Thank you."

As far as the host-less evening? All went well with the laughs coming from joy and the political messages from winners. The Academy Awards, which has seen its share of criticism over inclusion, shattered records and hopefully the race and gender barriers also with the voters focused on performance, achievement and talent, as it should be.

More coverage to follow.

Images courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and used with permission

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