The 2020 Oscars were full of surprises, musical performances, history-making moments, and more.
Janelle Monáe kicked off the show in a big way, with a musical medley featuring Billy Porter.
She started off the performance with "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?," the theme song from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" as a tribute to “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” followed by a version of her 2010 song "Come Alive" with new lyrics.
The song both honored this year’s nominees and called out the lack of diversity. At one point, she sand, “The Oscars, it’s so white, it’s time to come alive.” At another point she said mid-song, “We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films and I’m so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist, telling stories. Happy Black History Month.”
Janelle even took the performance to the audience, asking stars like Cynthia Erivo and Leonardo DiCaprio to sing into the microphone!
Next up, Chris Rock and Steve Martin were tasked with the opening monologue. No one was spared, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos got it the worst.
Chris Rock pointed out, "Oh, Jeff Bezos is here!" and Martin joked, "Wow, great actor!"
Rock went on, "He's got cash, but when he writes a check, the bank bounces. Like, Jeff Bezos is so rich [that] he got divorced and he's still the richest man in the world.”
Soon after, the first acting category was handed out for Best Supporting Actor, which went to crowd favorite Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.”
Pitt used his 45 seconds onstage to make a political jab, saying that it was 45 more seconds than John Bolton got at President Trump’s impeachment trial. He added, “I'm thinking Quentin [Tarantino] does a movie about it and in the end, the adults do the right thing.”
If you don't understand this joke, see "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" ASAP.
He also acknowledged Leonardo DiCaprio, saying, “Leo, I’ll ride on your coattails any day man.” Brad ended his speech by thanking his children, saying, “This is for my kids, who color everything I do. I adore you.”
A big moment for Disney fans came when Idina Menzel, Aurora, and nine other Elsas took the stage to perform Best Original Song nominee “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen 2.” The women were all singers who have dubbed Elsa in other territories: Denmark, Germany, Japan, Latin America, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, and Thailand.
The audience was also in for a huge surprise when Eminem performed his 2002 Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself” from “8 Mile.” The star did not perform the year he was nominated and didn’t even attend the ceremony, having refused to censor his work and never expecting to actually win.
Once Eminem was finished, he received a standing ovation from big names, including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Billie Eilish. It was not only a do-over shot at performing a signature song, it was also his first time attending the ceremony.
Following his performance, Eminem tweeted, "Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity... Thanks for having me @TheAcademy. Sorry it took me 18 years to get here."
Utkarsh Ambudkar also gave a headline-making performance with a freestlye rap recapping the Oscars midway through. Most fans know Utkarsh from “The Mindy Project” and “Pitch Perfect,” but few knew he got his start with the improvisational hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme, started by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale.
With help from Questlove, he rapped about the show. He also pointed out the lack of diversity, with lines like, “I’m here to recap the show and emcee for a bunch of nominees who don’t look like me” and “keep an open mind, I’m sure we’ll find there is plenty of light here for us all to shine.”
Later, presenters James Corden and Rebel Wilson brought the funny when they showed up as cats to hand out the award for Best Visual Effects. The “Cats” stars even panned their own film, joking that nobody could understand the importance of "good visual effects" like they can. They even played with the microphone, purr-fectly in character.
“Joker” composer Hildur Guðnadóttir made history as the first woman to win a Best Original Score Oscar since the score categories were combined in 2000.
She ended her speech with a powerful message, saying, “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices.”
Joaquin Phoenix also gave a powerful speech after winning Best Actor for “Joker.” He said, in part, “I think whether we’re talking about gender and equality, or racism, or queer rights, or indigenous rights, or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one people, one race, one gender, one species has the right to dominate, control, use, and exploit another with impunity.”
He also called out his own behavior, saying, “Now, I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful, but so many of you have given me a second chance — and I think that’s when we’re at our best. When we support each other not when we cancel each other out over past mistakes, but when we guide each other to grow, for redemption. That is the best of humanity.”
Joaquin closed with a lyric written by his late brother River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”
Meanwhile, filmmaker Bong Joon-ho had a huge night, taking home Oscars for Best Original Screenplay, Best International Film, Best Director and Best Picture for “Parasite.” As he accepted his Best Director award, he paid homage to his fellow nominee and favorite director Martin Scorsese, telling the crowd, "When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is that, 'The most personal is the most creative.'"
When he added that the quote was from "our great Martin Scorsese," the crowd erupted with applause and Scorsese waved from the audience.
Bringing the evening to an exciting close, screen legend Jane Fonda was on hand to award “Parasite” Best Picture, which made it the first foreign-language film in history to win top honors at the Oscars.