Oscars: Five Burning Questions Answered
Whether Leonardo DiCaprio made $30 million last year; why Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe argued; and why Chris Rock said "Father Figure" was his favorite Sam Smith song, The Hollywood Reporter breaks down these and other joke-based head-scratchers.
Chris Rock took no prisoners as host of the Oscars on Sunday night, beginning by addressing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and offering some sharp jokes about diversity in Hollywood. But as he repeatedly made barbed references to the lack of black nominees, tried to make his daughters' Girl Scout troop the highest-grossing in cookie sales and took aim at feared moguls Harvey Weinstein and Suge Knight, he also made a few quips that may have left less-Hollywood-savvy viewers scratching their heads.
The Hollywood Reporter answers the burning questions left unanswered by some of Rock's more inside jokes and investigates what might have been behind Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe's bickering.
Why should Wanda Sykes, as Rock joked, be the perennial winner of a "best black friend" Oscar?
Rock joked in his monologue that in order to ensure the Oscars nominated black people every year, the show should introduce "black categories," offering as an example, "best black friend."
He continued, imitating a presenter and announcer: "And the winner for the 18th year in a row is ... Wanda Sykes! 'This is Wanda's 18th Black Oscar.'"
Sykes has played roles in a number of films in which she supports white characters that are more central to the plot. She played the assistant to both Steve Carell's Evan Baxter in 2007's Evan Almighty and the assistant to Jane Fonda's legendary newscaster, who tries to sabotage her son's relationship with his fiancee (Jennifer Lopez) in Monster-in-Law. While Sykes got some good lines in both, neither of those films were Oscar nominees and scored 23 percent and 16 percent freshness ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively.
Could Ray Charles have been "unplugged" because Jamie Foxx was "so good" in Ray?
That's what Rock claimed in one of his monologue jokes, saying that the actor's Oscar-winning performance was so on point, "that they went to the hospital and unplugged the real Ray Charles. It's like, 'We don't need two of these!'" Technically, though, Charles couldn't have been taken off life support after Ray was released. The music great died in June of 2004 of acute liver disease, with Ray hitting theaters just months later, in October of that year, a release date that was already set when Charles died. Still, Foxx did meet the real Ray Charles, even playing keyboard alongside him and, after testing Foxx's skill with some jazz, Charles seemed to give Foxx his blessing. Writer-director Taylor Hackford, who recounted the meeting for the New York Times, said that after Foxx figured out the more challenging music, Charles hopped up and said, "The kid's got it!"
Hackford added: "I had cast Jamie as Ray Charles, but it was at that moment Ray anointed him. Jamie must've grown about 10 feet tall."
Two reviews of the film, posted after it was released, claim that the movie was screened for Charles, and he approved of it, shortly before he died. Foxx went on to win a best actor Oscar for his performance.
Why were Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe bickering during their best adapted screenplay presentation and how many Oscars have they each won?
The two actors seemed to be on the verge of a fight as they presented the award for best adapted screenplay, with Gosling at one point claiming they have "two Academy Awards between" them. Crowe, confused, asked if Gosling won an Oscar? He hasn't, but he was nominated for best actor for his role in 2006's Half Nelson. What about Crowe? He has one Oscar, but has been nominated two other times.
Beyond that, why the arguing? It could be that Gosling and Crowe, who co-star in the upcoming action comedy The Nice Guys, were trying to get audiences familiar with their characters' cantankerous demeanor.
Did Leonardo DiCaprio make $30 million last year?
As Chris Rock tried to get the wealthy Hollywood figures in the Oscars audience to buy Girl Scout cookies that his daughter's troop was selling, he urged the Revenant star to chip in, saying, "C'mon, Leo, you made $30 million!" Rock likely got that figure from Forbes, which calculated that DiCaprio earned $29 million (or $30 million if you're rounding up) before taxes between June 2014 and June 2015 due to his upfront pay for what would ultimately be an Oscar-winning role in The Revenant as well as residuals from older movies and an endorsement deal with Tag Heuer. Those calculations seem to be in line with what THR reported last March, that the actor was paid $25 million upfront for his last movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, which also included his producing fee.
Nevertheless, according to Forbes' calculations, DiCaprio isn't the highest-paid Oscar nominee, Jennifer Lawrence is, earning $52 million over the 12-month period ending last June. So, Rock really should have hit up JLaw for some cookie cash.
Is "Father Figure" a Sam Smith song?
After Sam Smith finished his Oscar-winning performance of "Writing's on the Wall," Rock joked, "My favorite song is 'Father Figure.'" That one, however, is a George Michael track from the '80s, not one by the young musician. Still, both Michael and Smith are gay British singers who look somewhat alike, only Smith is an Oscar winner, albeit not the first openly gay one.