Putting the final exclamation point on an unusually tumultuous and unpredictable Oscar season, “Green Book” — the period road movie about a black virtuoso pianist and his white chauffeur and bodyguard from director Peter Farrelly — claimed the top prize Sunday night at the 91st Academy Awards, beating out a diverse field ranging from the intimate, poetic “Roma” to the superhero smash “Black Panther” to the crowd-pleasing Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Rami Malek, who swept virtually every major acting award leading up to the Oscars, won the lead actor prize for his turn as Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of four awards earned by the hit biopic.
On the red carpet
Clockwise from top left; Billy Porter shows off his stunning tux-gown on the red carpet at the 91st Academy Awards; Meagan Good on the red carpet at the 91st Academy Awards; "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" costars and fellow nominees Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant cut up on the red carpet at the 91st Academy Awards; Laura Harrier and Stephan James during the arrivals at the 91st Academy Awards. (Jay L. Clendenin / Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
In one of the evening’s bigger surprises, Olivia Colman won the lead actress award for her turn as the insecure, demanding Queen Anne in “The Favourite,” coming out on top in a strong field that included seven-time nominee Glenn Close, who many expected to finally win her first Oscar for “The Wife.” “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,” Colman said.
Along with the academy’s stumbles, issues of representation once again loomed large over this year’s awards season, and on that score, this year’s Oscars presented a number of firsts. Hannah Beachler and Ruth Carter became the first African Americans to win the awards for production design and costume design, respectively, for their work in “Black Panther.” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” co-director Peter Ramsey became the first African American to win an Oscar for animated feature film.
Top, presenter Keegan-Michael Key drops in on the 91st Academy Awards. Left, Queen's Brian May, left, and Adam Lambert kick off the 91st Academy Awards with a couple of Queen tunes that figure prominently in the nominated film "Bohemian Rhapsody." Right, Spike Lee, left, accepts the adapted screenplay award for "BlacKkKlansman" from Samuel L. Jackson during the telecast of the 91st Academy Awards. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Adam Lambert fronted Brian May and the rest of Queen in the opening number as celebrities and awards contenders, including Emma Stone and Jordan Peele, sang along from their seats in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. Jennifer Hudson performed “I’ll Fight” from the documentary “RBG” about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Lady Gaga sang “Shallow,” her Grammy- and now Oscar-wining song from “A Star Is Born,” with Bradley Cooper.
Clockwise from top left; Lady Gaga joins a selfie backstage at the 91st Academy Awards; Presenter Melissa McCarthy is made up backstage at the 91st Academy Awards; Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi backstage at the 91st Academy Awards; Regina King is all smiles backstage after winning her supporting actress Oscar for "If Beale Street Could Talk" at the 91st Academy Awards. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
The lack of a master of ceremonies inspired better gags too — ones that didn’t involve selfies, snacks or pizzas. Keegan-Michael Key dropped from the ceiling holding an umbrella like Mary Poppins to introduce Bette Midler’s musical performance. And the Oscars poked fun early in the show at its hostless conundrum with an appearance from Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler.
“Good evening and welcome to the one-millionth Academy Awards,” Fey said. “We are not your hosts, but we’re going to stand here a little too long so the people who get USA Today tomorrow will think that we hosted.”
Top, Jaime Ray Newman reacts backstage after winning for live action short for "Skin" at the 91st Academy Awards. Left, Hannah Beachler celebrates backstage at the 91st Academy Awards. Right, Presenter Angela Bassett leads Alfonso Cauron backstage after his movie "Roma" won the foreign language film Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)