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The highs, lows and most bizarre moments from the 96th Oscars

Sunday evening’s Academy Awards were headlined by big wins from “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things”

<p>“Barbie” star and nominee for Best Supporting Actor Ryan Gosling has never been one to phone a performance in, and he certainly went all out for his performance of “I’m Just Ken."</p>

“Barbie” star and nominee for Best Supporting Actor Ryan Gosling has never been one to phone a performance in, and he certainly went all out for his performance of “I’m Just Ken."

This year's Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for the fourth time, had one of the most enjoyable telecasts in years. The show moved briskly from award to award with plenty of entertaining bits throughout — a fitting show for one of the best and most exciting years for film in recent memory. 

Kimmel started off the proceedings with an assertive but safe monologue, which kicked off three and a half hours of envelopes, speeches and ovations. For the most part, the Academy went with crowd pleasing winners, especially from one half of this summer’s “Barbenheimer” phenomenon. “Oppenheimer” took home multiple acting wins, as well as a best director nod for Christopher Nolan and a coveted best picture win. On the other side, “Barbie” fans walked away disappointed — despite being nominated for eight awards, Greta Gerwig’s hit movie earned only the Oscar for best original song for the track “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish.

Oscars night was filled with dazzling musical performances, heartbreaking upsets and intriguing celebrity appearances. Here are some more of the highs and lows from the biggest night in Hollywood.

High: Ryan Gosling brings the “Kenergy”

“Barbie” star and nominee for best supporting actor Ryan Gosling has never been one to phone in a performance, and he certainly went all out for his live rendition of “I’m Just Ken.” Clad in a sequined hot pink suit, Gosling had the entire Dolby Theater on their feet for what was far and away the most memorable musical act of the night. 

Highlights included co-star Margot Robbie’s uncontrollable laughter as Gosling sang directly behind her, the other Ken actors Simu Liu, Scott Evans, Ncuti Gatwa and Kingsley Ben-Adir joining him on stage and best actress winner Emma Stone singing along.

Low: Emma Stone upsets Lily Gladstone in the Best Actress Race

While most of the major awards seemed like locks entering Sunday night, the best actress prize remained a close two-way race up until the moment of its unveiling. Stone — nominated for her work as a woman with a baby’s mind discovering life in Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things” — seemed neck-and-neck along the awards circuit with Gladstone, whose work in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” as an Osage woman living through a series of murders around her earned her both a Golden Globe and SAG award. 

As last year’s winner Michelle Yeoh called her name, Stone displayed a look of shock — while her performance was lauded, Gladstone’s was seen as nothing less than revelatory. While some were delighted with Stone’s victory, many viewers were not glad Stone won over Gladstone.

High: A costumeless John Cena presents Best Costume Design

Wrestler-turned-actor Cena recently made headlines for launching an OnlyFans account in character as “Ricky Stanicky '' to promote the recently released film of the same name. He went viral once again at the Oscars by shuffling on stage with nothing but the award envelope covering him. With this gag, Cena paid homage to Robert Opal, a man who ran naked across the stage during the 46th Academy Awards. 

To introduce the best costume design category, Kimmel took the stage to recognize the anniversary of the iconic streak. “Can you imagine if a nude man ran across the stage today?” Kimmel said. Cena then peeked his head around the corner and expressed anxiety about doing the bit, before being convinced by an insistent Kimmel to go through with it anyway.

Kimmel and Cena’s exchange was easily the funniest bit of the night —  “The male body is not a joke,” Cena proclaimed. Kimmel responded, “Mine is!” “Costumes — they are so important,” Cena muttered before presenting the award to “Poor Things.”

Low: Theatrics overshadow those honored during “In Memoriam”

Every year, the Academy’s “In Memoriam” segment honors film industry professionals who died in the past year. During what should have been a moving tribute to so many important people in film — including actor Michael Gambon, singer Tina Turner and television star Matthew Perry — the telecast decided to focus instead on the performance art that accompanied it. 

Dozens of dancers appeared on stage while Italian singer Andrea Bocelli and his son belted a duet. Unnecessary screen time was given to the Bocellis and the dancers, obscuring the names and images of individuals who ideally would have been adequately memorialized.

???: Al Pacino presents Best Picture to “Oppenheimer”

“Here it comes. And my eyes see ‘Oppenheimer’. Yes, yes.” This awkward utterance was Pacino’s slightly endearing, extremely anticlimactic choice of words to give the cast and crew of “Oppenheimer” Hollywood’s most prestigious prize.

The audience sat in a whole second of silence before realizing that Pacino had actually announced the award. Once a track from the film’s soundtrack played, cueing the cast and crew on stage, the theater immediately burst into applause. The moment — impossible to categorize as a “high” or “low” — capped off the monumental night for “Oppenheimer,” winning three of the “Big Five” Oscars and marking Nolan’s first wins for best picture and best director.

Awards season’s grand finale went heavy on the showmanship, and had the highest ratings the show had seen in 4 years as a result. This year's Oscars marked the conclusion of a truly special year in film, and matched it with moments that are sure to be referenced as long as the Academy lives.


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