Oscars: 10 Most Memorable Moments From the 2019 Academy Awards

7:01 PM 2/24/2019

by Rebecca Cohen and Jillian Forstadt

The host-less 2019 Oscars makes history with these memorable moments.

The highly anticipated host-less 2019 Oscars did not disappoint with its share of memorable moments, despite the untraditional format.

Queen and Adam Lambert kicked off the night, rocking out to some of the band's biggest hits, and Keegan-Michael Key arrived by flying umbrella to introduce Bette Midler's performance. 

Some of comedy's most beloved actresses — Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph — gave an opening monologue, even though they made sure to remind us that they were not Sunday night's hosts, and Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry showed off their best looks while announcing the winner for best costume design in a movie.

Rep. John Lewis made an appearance to present best picture nominee (and eventual winner) Green Book, and Lady Gaga gave a tearful acceptance speech when "Shallow" won best original song. 

Below, The Hollywood Reporter recaps the best parts from the Oscars — including the most important moments and the night's biggest wins. 

  • Spike Lee Accepts 'BlacKkKlansman' Win With Powerful Political Speech

    BlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee accepted the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, which also marked his first competitive Oscar win. He received a standing ovation from the crowd and gave a powerful speech calling out America's complicated racial history. 

    "The date: the 24th. The month: February, which happens to be the shortest month of the year, which also happens to be Black History Month," Lee began. "The year is 2019. The year is 1619. ... Four-hundred years our ancestors were stolen from Northern Africa and brought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved." 

    He then spoke of his own experience, growing up in America, calling out his grandmother, who lived to "100 years young" and who graduated college despite the fact that her mother was once a slave. According to Lee, she saved 50 years of Social Security checks to put him through college and film school. 

    "She called me Spikey Poo," he said, to much laughter. 

    That's when it got political. 

    "The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let's all mobilize. Let's all be on the right side of history, make the moral choice between love versus hate," Lee finished to ecstatic applause. 

  • Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph Mock Trump, Hollywood During a Not-Monologue

    The 2019 Oscars remained host-less from the start, but Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph gave the audience a taste of what the awards show would look like if they had filled the host role.

    "We're not your hosts, but we'll stand here a little too long so the people who look at USA Today tomorrow will think that we hosted," said Fey before presenting the award for outstanding supporting actress.

    The Saturday Night Live alumnae were the first of many pseudo-hosts presenting throughout the night, as well as the first to take a dig at President Donald Trump.

    "There is no host tonight, there won't be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall," Rudolph said, referring to the border wall with Mexico that Trump promised to build during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    Throughout their not-monologue the comedy trifecta also made references to Ja-Rule's Fyre Festival, Lady Gaga's "Shallow" wail and Netflix's Roma

    "Roma's on Netflix? What's next, my microwave makes a movie?" Fey jeered.

  • 'Wayne's World' Duo Mike Myers and Dana Carvey Present 'Bohemian Rhapsody' for Best Feature

    The iconic Wayne's World duo did not miss a beat while introducing Bohemian Rhapsody, one of the night's nominees for best picture. 

    Their appearance started with a legendary clip from Wayne's World — the one referenced as an inside joke by Myers' character, label head Ray Forster, in the film Bohemian Rhapsody — showing Wayne, Garth and friends in a car head-banging to the song "Bohemian Rhapsody."

    "We're not worthy!" the pair shouted as they took the stage. Then, in Wayne's World fashion, they continued, "Don't hurl, because if you honk, I'll spew," Myers said. "And if you spew, I'll blow chunks," Carvey agreed. 

    Myers continued, "'Bohemian Rhapsody' played a large part in the success of Wayne's World. We are humbled to be associated with that brilliant song," before the pair announced the film as a contender for best picture. 

  • Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry Show Off Their Own Costume Designs

    Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry did not want to be left out of the category they were announcing at Sunday night's Oscars. To introduce the winner of best costume design this year, the presenters showed up onstage in their own best costumes

    McCarthy showed off a gown complete with stuffed rabbits attached to a dramatic train and a rabbit hand puppet, while Henry sported a mask, a bright red hat and a blue cape atop his own dress. 

    "A rakish tilt to a hat, the drape of fabric just so," are just two of the qualities of the most effective costume designs, according to Henry. 

    "These artists create a prestige of textiles with authenticity, yet never distract from the story," McCarthy explained. "Costume designers construct the looks that ground a character to a particular time and place in the subtlest of ways," she finished. 

  • Queen Opens the Show With Adam Lambert

    Adam Lambert and Queen perform at the 91st Academy Awards.
    Adam Lambert and Queen perform at the 91st Academy Awards.
    Kevin Winter/Getty

    In honor of late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury's biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, and their impending tour dates as a group, the surviving members of classic rock band Queen and Adam Lambert took the stage to open the 91st Academy Awards. 

    The group started without announcement, diving straight into their hit "We Will Rock You," followed by "We Are the Champions." The star-studded crowd could be seen singing along and dancing in their seats. A closeup of Jennifer Lopez and boyfriend Alex Rodriguez showed them rocking out. 

    This reboot of Queen, comprising lead guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and Adam Lambert as frontman in place of Mercury, sets out for an American tour this July. 

  • Keegan-Michael Key Descends From Ceiling, 'Mary Poppins'-Style

    Keegan-Michael Key appears by umbrella.
    Keegan-Michael Key appears by umbrella.
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Umbrella in hand, Friends From College actor Keegan-Michael Key dropped from the rafters of the Dolby Theatre to introduce the performance of best song nominee "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Mary Poppins Returns.

    Broadway legend Bette Midler — introduced by Key as "the Divine Miss M," naturally — performed the ballad, accompanied by the song's composer, Marc Shaiman. Shaiman also penned the lyrics with Scott Wittman.

  • 'Period. End of Sentence' Filmmakers Give Emotional Speech About "Menstrual Equality"

    Despite the film's focus on menstruation, Period. End of Sentence director Rayka Zehtabchi was not "crying because I'm on my period" upon accepting the award for best documentary short

    "I can't believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!" Zehtabchi exclaimed onstage, standing alongside producer Melissa Berton.

    The film follows Indian women fighting stigma surrounding menstruation and the work of the Pad Project, started by a group of high schoolers who produce affordable and accessible sanitary pads. 

    "A period should end a sentence, not a girl's education," Berton said. 

  • Lady Gaga Gives Emotional Acceptance Speech for "Shallow" Win

    After winning a Golden Globe and two Grammys for "Shallow," Lady Gaga added the best original song Oscar to her mantel.

    Accepting alongside co-writers Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt, Gaga gave an emotional speech, thanking co-star and A Star Is Born director Bradley Cooper.

    "There's not a single person on the planet who could have sang this song with me but you," Gaga said.

    Gaga beat out "All the Stars" (Black Panther), "I'll Fight" (RBG), "The Place Where Lost Things Go" (Mary Poppins Returns) and "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)

    "This is hard work, I've worked hard for a long time and it's not about winning, but what it's about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it," Gaga cried. "There's a discipline over passion. It's about how many times you stand up and are brave and keep on going."

    Earlier in the night, Gaga and Cooper received a double standing ovation for their performance of the song, one on camera and another during a commercial break as they returned to their seats.

  • Congressman John Lewis Introduces Best Picture Nominee 'Green Book'

    John Lewis presents 'Green Book'
    John Lewis presents 'Green Book'
    Kevin Winter/Getty Image

    To announce the final feature in the running for best picture at Sunday's Academy Awards, Congressman John Lewis joined actress Amandla Stenberg onstage to introduce best picture nominee Green Book, which chronicles African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley's concert tour through the Jim Crow-era South and the friendship formed between Shirley and the Italian-American bouncer hired to be his driver and bodyguard.

    Seventy-nine-year-old Lewis recalled much of this time period through his own memories of helping to lead the fight for civil rights in the 1960s. 

    "I can bear witness to the portrait of that time and place in our history. It's very real," the representative from Georgia began. 

    He continued to give insight on the fight for racial equality, noting the horrors that took place, remembering the people who were beaten and killed. 

    "Young, old, I encourage you to be an active participant in the journey," Lewis concluded. 

  • 'Green Book' Shocks With Best Picture Win

    In a shocking turn of events, Green Book beat out presumptive frontrunner Roma for the final award of the night.

    The film's producers Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, director Peter Farrelly and writer Nick Vallelonga accepted the award for best picture. Earlier in the night, the film took home awards for best original screenplay and best supporting actor, for Mahershala Ali's performance as piano genius Dr. Don Shirley.

    The film follows Shirley as he faces adversity while touring in the Jim Crow-era South of the late 1960s. An unlikely friendship manifests between Shirley and his driver, Tony "Lip" Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen.

    During awards season, Green Book has found itself at the center of several controversies. A 2015 tweet, criticized as anti-Muslim, resurfaced from screenwriter Vallelonga, and Mortensen apologized, for saying the N-word during a Q&A for the film. Director Farrelly had to apologize for his past actions, including flashing colleagues like Cameron Diaz and film executive Tom Rothman. The family of Dr. Don Shirley, played by Ali, also has criticized the film's portrayal of real-life events.