Even without a host, the 91st Academy Awards proved memorable — perhaps because it didn't have a host. It was a ceremony filled with incredible musical numbers, thanks to the two of the nominated films. And host or not, the producers did a good job of pairing certain presenters together.
So, no, we didn't miss a host. But maybe we did miss a sense this might've been a significant year in movies, despite the "unique talents" who presented the Best Picture nominees.
Hey, at least there wasn't a "let's surprise unsuspecting moviegoers" bit?
Queen's Opening Number
"Bohemian Rhapsody" was already set to have a good night, as a frontrunner and eventual winner in multiple categories. But it cemented its status as one of the year's most enjoyed (if not critically acclaimed) movies with an out-and-out rockin' number by the new Queen, with original members Brian May and Roger Taylor and fronted by Adam Lambert in place of the late, incredibly great Freddie Mercury. Later on, Rami Malek won the Best Actor award for playing Mercury.
No matter what you might have to say about the movie, Queen's songs are ... amazing: We are the champions.
Spike Lee finally winning an Oscar, for real
Did you know Spike Lee had never even been NOMINATED for an Oscar prior to this year? (In a competitive category)
Maybe you did know, since you are reading a movie website, but you might've forgotten over his three-decade career. Anyway, finally, he did get nominated, and wow, he finally (censored) won. Holy (more censored)! (Censored) yes!
And of course, he accepted his trophy in the most Spike Lee way possible, with a call to arms for all of us to "do the right thing."
And ... AND ... of course, he did not hold back in his press room comments after his win:
(Footnote: Look up the Oscars for movies in the year 1989.)
"Shallow" by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
For all the hullabaloo about which Original Songs would be sung at the Oscars, just like the "Categories That Will Be Presented During Commercial Breaks," it ended up being mostly a non-issue. (Except: "All the Stars" from "Black Panther, but if Kendrick Lamar didn't want to show up at the Grammys, why would he go to the Oscars).
But as lovely as the rendition of "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" was, just as expectedly wonderful was Jennifer Hudson's "RBG" song "I'll Fight," this was "Shallow's" to lose.
Still, Gaga and Cooper's duet was beautifully emotional and breathtaking. There have been quite a few thinkpieces on what went wrong with this movie's awards season-ing, but their performance sealed the "they wuz robbed" deal.
Just watch this and NOT cry:
The women who should've hosted
After Queen's rousing opening number, the Oscars audience was treated to a delightful and sharp repartee among Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler.
“We are not your hosts but we’re gonna stand here a little too long so that the people who get USA Today tomorrow will think we hosted," Fey joked.
Rudolph followed up, “There is no host tonight. There won’t be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall."
But ... why WEREN'T they our hosts? Fey and Poehler hosted the Golden Globes (to much acclaim) numerous times. Anyway, let's the start the petition for them to host next year.
Excellently paired presenters
Look, we all know ABC has its own agenda for pairing presenters. But maybe because there wasn't a host, the producers were extra careful about it this year because there were multiple pairing gems. Awkwafina and John Mulaney? Comedy gold. Even the super-obvious Disney/ABC/Marvel super-corporate plug of Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson? Delightful.
But no one can top Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry presenting Best Costume.
Historic wins for "Black Panther"
The fact that "Black Panther" was even nominated for Best Picture was a big deal. And sure, we would all have been partying like crazy if it had won. But at least we can toast to two historic wins: Ruth E. Carter became the first black person to win Best Costume Design and Hannah Beachler became the first black person to win Best Production Design. Both worked on "Black Panther."
Bette Midler, Queen
So, Midler is still one Oscar short of an EGOT. What can we do to remedy this?
This video has nothing to do with her performance of that "Mary Poppins" song on the Oscars, but like, seriously, can you watch this and not tear up:
Complete this woman's EGOT!
No commercial break awards
Literally nobody (except for some people on the Academy's board, maybe?) wanted awards shunted off to the commercials. Even though the Oscars have become a Big Television Spectacular, it started out and still is about craft. So, the joyous and delightful speeches from all the shorts winners reminded us that ... hey, THIS IS ABOUT THE CRAFT OF MOVIEMAKING. But the most joyous and delightful of them all were the winners of Documentary Short, "Period. End of Sentence":
"I'm not crying because I'm on my period — I can't believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!"