Sunday night’s 2018 Oscar Awards were long and boring as hell and reminded us of the ugly malaise that sinks in when everything goes according to plan. There were no Moonlight envelope snafus, no surprises in the acting categories, and Best Picture went to the most fine of nominees, The Shape of Water—luckily nothing egregious like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took it home, but there was no thrilling continuation of last year’s sea change, either, by awarding Get Out. Unfortunately, the music performances were also kind of a drag.
On paper, it was a pretty solid and more wide wide-open-than-usual race for Best Original Song. Although I suspected it would come down to the more traditional movie musical numbers—Coco’s “Remember Me” and The Greatest Showman’s “This Is Me”—it’s rare that this category isn’t preordained before the night of the show. The performances wrapped up before any music awards were handed out, so no one had to fight off rejection tears onstage. Below, you can revisit the night of Best Original Song performances, along with Eddie Vedder’s In Memoriam tribute.
Mary J. Blige: “Mighty River”
MJB delivered a strong, virtuosic performance (per usual) of her song from Mudbound. The first Oscar performance of the night was one of the more restrained visually, with Blige absolutely belting before a gospel choir and projection of drizzling rain. You can check it out here.
Sufjan Stevens: “Mystery of Love”
Even more restrained, but a perfect fit for the muted emotionalism of Call Me By Your Name, Sufjan’s performance was really short! But long enough to get me kind of misty eyed, thinking about that damn movie and the fact that indie heroes St. Vincent and Moses Sumney were performing on the damn Oscar stage, too. No angel wings, but you couldn’t find many better looks than that striped pink tux top.
Common opened this up with a topical freestyle intro, reminding that, yes this song from a movie about Thurgood Marshall but it is absolutely also about 2018. He and Andra day enlisted 10 activists, representing causes such as Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock Youth Council, #MeToo, and more. It bit off a lot, but was probably more convincing than the Grammys’ hurried activism last month.
Gael Garcia Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia Lafourcade: “Remember Me”
Coco!! (I finally saw Coco, it’s really good, and I’m happy it won some awards.) Easily the most extravagant of the song performance sets, recreating Pixar’s afterlife to dazzling effect. Sure, some mixed feelings about Miguel needing to be there (along with Kobe Bryant walking away with Oscar gold amidst all the talk of Time’s Up,) but this is a sweet little song about legacy and memory.
This was a loud, busy performance! From a movie that I imagine is also very loud and busy! I don’t want to say or think anything more about The Greatest Showman! Watch it here??
Pearl Jam frontfriend Eddie Vedder got the thankless In Memoriam task this year, covering Tom Petty’s “Room at the Top.” He did a really nice job with it! It’s an annual excuse to look back on who Hollywood lost this year, ponder who half the honorees are, and wonder who gets the coveted hammer honor to close out the tribute segment (Jerry Lewis this year). As things were picking up and the show zipped nearly an hour past its allotted time on the TV Guide, it was OK to slow things down for this.