Universal’s Green Book won the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday, coming out on top in the marquee Academy Awards category to wrap a wild, wide-open film awards season. It had been thought to be among at least three front-runners on the night along with Netflix’s Roma and 20th Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
Green Book ended up winning three total Oscars, including Original Screenplay and Mahershala Ali for Supporting Actor, his second win in three years. The film tied for the second-best total of the night with Disney’s Black Panther; 20th Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody won a leading four.
“The whole story is about love, about who we are,” said co-writer/director Peter Farrelly, who was onstage earlier in the evening for winning Original Screenplay with his co-scribes Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie. “We are the same people.”
The film starred Best Actor nominee Viggo Mortensen in the true story of a friendship between a nightclub bouncer who is hired by concert pianist Don Shirley (Ali) to drive him on a tour through the Jim Crow South in the early ’60s.
Farrelly shouted out Mortensen during his acceptance speech, saying “this doesn’t start” without him coming aboard.
When the winner was announced by presenter Julia Roberts, BlacKkKlansman‘s Spike Lee appeared visibly angry, attempting to walk out of the theater before returning and turning his back on the stage. (See Deadline’s story here.)
It was an especially tight (and up and down) race all season long among the Best Picture nominees which included Black Panther, Roma and Bohemian Rhapsody along with early favorite A Star Is Born from Warner Bros, Focus Features’ BlacKkKlansman, Fox Searchlight’s The Favourite and Annapurna’s Vice.
Going in, critics groups, BAFTA and the DGA had drifted towards Roma; the Golden Globes loved Green Book which also won at the PGAs) and Bohemian; BAFTA showered seven wins from 12 nominations on hometown favorite Favourite; and SAG gave its top prize to box office behemoth Black Panther.
The tea leaves were especially muddled with the Academy’s preferential ranked ballot (strictly for Best Picture and not the other categories), in which a voter’s second or third choice could make all the difference.
The victory also ended an Oscar season that was beset by false starts, odd choices and more than a couple of never-minds on issues like an Oscar host (there wasn’t one tonight) and awarding some categories off-air (that idea was rebuffed).
Here is the Green Book crew backstage: