Breaking Down Oscar Night Biggest Moments, Snubs, and Surprises

Breaking Down Oscar Night Biggest Moments, Snubs, and Surprises

Breaking Down Oscar Night Biggest Moments, Snubs, and Surprises

The 96th Academy Awards unfolded spectacularly, celebrating the best in cinema and delivering unexpected twists.

From Billie Eilish’s heartrending performance to John Cena’s beefcake cameo, the 96th Academy Awards served up some pretty terrific moments and more than a few surprises (welcome to the party, Slash! Where you at, Wes Anderson?).

Here are the highlights and lowlights from Sunday’s ABC telecast.

Breaking Down Oscar Night

Great Moment when members of the Osage Nation walked the red carpet. Like Killers of the Flower Moon costumes, their Indigenous attire was extravagant and gorgeous.

Surprise how the show started five minutes late because some attendees still hadn’t entered the theater. Arrivals have been complicated by the security measures meant to keep pro-Palestinian protesters at a distance, and that led to “hundreds of people” getting stuck outside the entrance. Pro-Palestinian protesters in Hollywood, CA, ahead of the 96th Oscars

Breaking Down Oscar Night Biggest Moments, Snubs, and Surprises

Snub delayed for Greta Gerwig and how she didn’t get a nomination for Best Director. It took four minutes at the show’s top before host Jimmy Kimmel addressed that elephant in the room. When the clapping began, Kimmel quipped, “I know you are clapping but you are the ones who didn’t vote for her, by the way. Don’t act like you had nothing to do with this.”

It was a great moment when Kimmel called out all of the Oscars below-the-line workers to take the stage – a not-so-gentle reminder that they are currently negotiating their contract that’s up in June.

It is a surprise for many, no doubt, to learn that Sean Ono Lennon made an Oscar-winning animated short film. He used his time on stage to lead everyone in a big happy birthday for his mom, Yoko, who just turned 91.

Snub to Gerwig, again, who lost to Cord Jefferson for adapted screenplay for American Fiction. No offense to the terrific Jefferson, but this category would have been the ONLY way Academy voters could make up for the fact they snubbed her for Best Director.

Breaking Down Oscar Night Biggest Moments, Snubs, and Surprises

Great Moment when the audience rose to their feet after Billie Eilish performed “What Was I Made For?” The gesture visibly moved Eilish; even Barbie’s Kate McKinnon couldn’t hold back the attagirls.

It was a surprise to see a very naked John Cena giving away the award for Costume Design. It started as a flashback to when a streaker took the stage during the 46th annual Oscars. Next thing we know, Cena peeks from behind the set and says he doesn’t want to do the streaker bit but still takes center stage with only the winner’s envelope covering his little winner.

Great Moment when Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling paid tribute to this year’s stunt work. Their introduction, however, was all about the Barbenheimer rivalry, with Gosling explaining that Blunt’s film got the tail end of that nickname because “Oppenheimer was riding Barbie’s coattails all summer.” Blunt fired back by saying, “thanks for Ken-splaining that to me, Mr. I Need To Paint My Abs On to Get Nominated.” Ouch.

Surprise that the Twins reunion of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito got a standing ovation

Snub to Masaki Takahashi, one of the Visual Effects designers behind Godzilla Minus One who didn’t get a chance to finish her speech. I wanted to hear more about the man whose picture you were holding.

Great Moment when the entire stage turned pink, and Gosling performed his show-stopping “I’m Just Ken.” It was a surprise that Slash came along for the fun (he played guitar on the record). This may have been Oppenheimer‘s night, but it was most definitely Barbie‘s show.

Awkward Moment when the camera showed how everyone but Da’Vine Joy Randolph gave 20 Days in Maruipol a standing ovation for Best Documentary Feature. She probably had an excellent reason for staying put in her front-row chair (she was MIA later in the show), but I have to wonder, at that moment, if she wished she wasn’t wearing such a standout color.

It was great Moment when director Hamish Hamilton split the screen when it came time to present the actor categories. The technique was especially effective in the supporting categories, when Lupito Nyong’o made Da’Vine Joy Randolph choke up with her heartfelt introduction and when Tim Robbins flubbed his line and said “Oscar-winning” instead of “Oscar-worthy” performance while introducing Robert De Niro. I’m also burying the lede here; these were the best of all the great moments of the 96th Annual Academy AwardsScrew the clock, movie academy; make this a permanent fixture at the Oscars.

Snub to all those who died this year. The (unusually short) In Memoriam segment is supposed to pay tribute to all the greats we lost. Still, their names and images were entirely upstaged by the orchestra, way too many contemporary dancers, and a performance by the Bocellis. Why?

Kick in the butt to Emma Stone’s seamstress.

Surprise! Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell now have two Oscars. Gerwig has none.

Great Moments:

Osage Nation’s Red Carpet Walk: Members of the Osage Nation made a grand entrance, showcasing their Indigenous attire inspired by Killers of the Flower Moon. Their extravagant costumes added cultural richness to the event.

Below-the-Line Workers Acknowledgment: Host Jimmy Kimmel invited Oscar’s unsung heroes—the below-the-line workers—to take the stage. A gentle reminder that their contributions are essential and their contract negotiations are ongoing.

Billie Eilish’s Moving Performance: The audience rose to their feet after Billie Eilish’s soul-stirring rendition of “What Was I Made For?” Her emotional performance resonated deeply.

Sean Ono Lennon’s Surprise: Sean Ono Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, revealed his Oscar-winning animated short film. He led a heartfelt birthday tribute to his mother, Yoko, who turned 91.


Greta Gerwig: Host Jimmy Kimmel wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room. Greta Gerwig’s absence from the Best Director nominations for Barbie raised eyebrows. Kimmel playfully quipped, “Don’t act like you had nothing to do with this.”

Greta Gerwig’s Adapted Screenplay Loss: Cord Jefferson won for adapted screenplay (American Fiction), leaving Greta Gerwig’s fans wondering if this was a consolation for her Best Director snub.


John Cena’s Costume Design Reveal: John Cena, in a playful nod to history, gave away the Costume Design award. His surprise? He appeared nearly naked, reminiscent of a streaker from a past Oscars ceremony.

Barbenheimer Rivalry: Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling’s banter playfully referenced the rivalry between Barbie and Oppenheimer. Gosling quipped, “Oppenheimer was riding Barbie’s coattails all summer.”

Overall Impact:

The 2024 Oscars left an indelible mark, from poignant performances to unexpected twists. Whether celebrating triumphs or acknowledging gaps, the night celebrated the magic of cinema.

In the grand theater of Hollywood, where dreams and realities collide, the 96th Academy Awards will be remembered for its moments of brilliance and intrigue.

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