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Jimmy Kimmel speaks onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 10, 2024.PATRICK T. FALLON/Getty Images

Kicking off with a pro-Palestinian protest that snarled traffic (causing a broadcast delay of six minutes) and ending with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (a film explicitly about the horrors of war) taking home the top prize of the evening, the 96th Academy Awards offered plenty of memorable moments, and even more instances of questionable decision-making.

Before the entire film industry comes down from tonight’s Barbenheimer high to face the cruel aftermath of the strikes and a thousand other film-industry problems, The Globe and Mail presents the best, worst, and oddest moments from the 2024 Oscars.

Highlights of some top 2024 Oscar category winners including Oppenheimer, the blockbuster biopic about the race to build the first atomic bomb which claimed the prestigious best picture trophy at the Academy Awards on Sunday, along with six other awards.


The Good

State of the Union

While there was much to gripe about when it came to Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue (see below, if you dare), the evening’s host ended his shtick with a heartfelt nod to the strikes that tore the industry apart for much of last year. Mentioning the word “union” perhaps more than any of the previous 95 Academy Awards combined, Kimmel urged his audience to stand up for those who held the town together during so many months of labour strife. “This very strange town of ours is at its heart a union town, not just a bunch of heavily Botoxed, gluten-sensitive nepo-babies. The reason we were able to make a deal is because of the people who worked behind the scenes,” Kimmel told the crowd, before bringing out a host of IATSE union members on-stage, promising that Hollywood would stand with the workers in their upcoming negotiations. If anyone is looking for the star of a new Jimmy Hoffa biopic ...

Barking Up the Right Tree

Speaking of that monologue: Messi, the lovable pup from French courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall, made the biggest impression during Kimmel’s opening bit — though the dog wasn’t actually in attendance on Sunday night. Behind-the-scenes footage tweeted out during the ceremony revealed that the real Messi — who has been making the awards-circuit rounds more than any other man, woman or beast this year — wasn’t able to make it out to L.A., and a stand-in canine took his place in a bit that was pre-recorded and then smoothly edited into the telecast. Good boy.

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Ryan Gosling performs the song "I'm Just Ken" from the movie "Barbie" during the Oscars on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press

I’m Just Ken-adian

Ryan Gosling, the favourite son of London, Ont., brought the show to a magnificent stop with his all-gusto performance of “I’m Just Ken” from Barbie. While the song didn’t win Best Original Song (that went to his Barbie teammates Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell for “What Was I Made For?”), Gosling’s go-for-broke delivery -- which started from his seat in the audience, much to the bemusement of Margot Robbie and Eilish, and escalated into a pink-festooned stage bonanza -- immediately cemented the number as one of the Oscars’ best live musical performances in its history. This is not polite Canadian hyperbole, either. That was a moment of true inspiration. One million tickets for The Fall Guy, please!

Da’Vine Inspiration

After tearing up during the presentation ceremony for Best Supporting Actress — this year’s broadcast opted to ignore clips of the performances in favour of bringing out past winners to rhapsodize about the nominees, a move that sounds good in theory but risks stretching the show past its breaking point — Da’Vine Joy Randolph gave the evening an early jolt of tear-jerking emotion. “I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing this as a career, I started off as a singer and my mother said to me, go across the street to that theatre department, I think there’s something for you there,” Randolph, who won for her stellar work in The Holdovers, told the crowd. She then went on to thank her publicist — “You don’t have a publicist like I have a publicist!” — though neglected to actually name said publicist. Nobody’s perfect.

Naked Ambition

A birthday suited John Cena, perhaps the best sport in all of Hollywood, lent his considerable comic muscle to Kimmel’s ho-hum skit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the infamous Oscar streaker. (Who had a name, which was Robert Opel, and a rather tragic backstory.) After the incident went down back in 1974, the evening’s co-host David Niven expertly quipped that, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” Kimmel could’ve used some Niven-level inspiration.

Putin on Notice

While 20 Days in Mariupol’s win for Best Documentary meant that Canada’s big Oscar hope, To Kill a Tiger, went home emptyhanded, the consolation prize was a sincere speech from director Mstyslav Chernov, who noted that his film about the Russian invasion earned Ukraine its first-ever Academy Award. “We all together, some of the most talented people in the world, we can make sure the history record is set straight and that the truth will prevail, and that the people of Mariupol and to those who have given their lives will never be forgotten. Because cinema forms memories, and memories form history.”

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Emma Stone accepts the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for "Poor Things."Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Rich Thing

In what might have been the biggest surprise of the night, Poor Things star Emma Stone took home Best Actress over presumed front-runner Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon). “It’s not about me, it’s about a team that came together to make something greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s the best part of making movies, all of us together,” a visibly emotional (and voice-strained) Stone said onstage.

America Ferrera stuns in sparkly Barbie pink, Rita Moreno waves in statement black on Oscars carpet

The full list of Academy Award winners for 2024

The Bad

The Host Who Goes Toast

For all the hate that Jo Koy earned for his flat performance hosting the Golden Globes in January, Jimmy Kimmel’s material wasn’t all that better. His hot targets? That would be Artificial Intelligence (how brave), the beauty of Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie (ooh), the length of movies these days (you don’t say), and the drug-addiction struggles of Robert Downey Jr. (who played along as best he could, even when Kimmel followed up that eye-rolling dig with a gag about the Oppenheimer actor’s penis). “Are we off to a bumpy start?” Kimmel asked his crowd after opening with a joke about the box-office bomb Madame Web. It must’ve taken the collective strength of the crowd to not sic Messi, that lovable dog from Anatomy of a Fall, up on stage to relieve himself on Kimmel’s leg.

Flamin’ Out

I’m sure there are some audiences out there who have not only seen the straight-to-Hulu film Flamin’ Hot — director Eva Longoria’s comedy about the disputed inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos — but also fondly recall the movie’s centrepiece song, “The Fire Inside,” written by perpetual Oscar nominee Diane Warren. Just as I’m sure that those half-dozen people were delighted by Becky G’s rendition of the tune during the ceremony. The rest of us got a nice excuse to frantically Google, “Flamin’ what-now?”

The Odd

The Political Zone of Half-Interest

For an Oscars ceremony honouring both Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest — movies that in their own ways centre on the pernicious dangers of burying your head in the political sand — the gala only infrequently dipped into Middle East politics, almost as if by the sheer force of will from a handful of individuals. On the red carpet, a smattering of attendees wore Palestinian flag pins (including Anatomy of a Fall actors Swann Arlaud and Milo Machado-Graner) and others (Poor Things’ Mark Ruffalo and Ramy Youssef, singer Billie Eilish) sported red buttons signifying calls for a ceasefire.

Onstage, it was only Glazer, who when accepting the Oscar for Best International Film, touched the subject. “Our film shows where dehumanization leads to at its worst, right now we stand as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people,” Glazer said. “Whether the victims of Oct. 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack in Gaza, all the victims face dehumanization. How do we resist? Alexandria, the girl who glows in the film as she does in life, I dedicate this film to her memory and her resistance.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jimmy Kimmel invited Teamsters to the Oscars stage. The invitees were members of IATSE. This version has been updated.

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