Oscars 2019, with a Twist

By Mary Anna Violi |@MaryAnnaVioli

No, I did not mean The Twisted Oscars.

Tonight we plant ourselves in front of the television set for The Oscars. In reality I have a sense that a large number of us feast our eyes on glamorous women sashaying up the red carpet in shimmering jewels adorning their mind-blowing gowns. And the men, it warms my heart to see fashionable variants on the tuxedoes of yore. Can we forget Rami Malik’s one button tux? Debonair, dazzling, sophisticated fashion wrapped around the Egyptian-American hunk of talent that truly dazzles the mind. Can we envision anyone else portraying the incomparable Freddie Mercury of Queen? I think not.

   Usually I fall asleep in front of the televised Oscars. The opening number, sung by the host or hosts, have always been a treat. Host Ellen DeGeneres handing out pizzas to hungry Oscar nominees was hilarious. Equally so was her dressed as Glenda the Good Witch. Hugh Jackman kept the beat going with his minimal sets for the Oscar-nominated songs. He embodied talent and style, particularly when he pulled Anne Hathaway up onto the stage, to sing a re-enactment of a scene together from their “Les Miserables” performance. For some years Billy Crystal kept us laughing as he hosted creative Oscar after Oscar show. Now, the 2019 Oscars are host-less. This should be interesting, or not, tonight.

   However, this year’s Oscars minus a host, won’t dim the remaining members of Queen’s band, nor the fact that I firmly believe Rami Malik will be awarded Best Actor Oscar for his reincarnation of Freddy Mercury in the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Malick’s is a mesmerizing and inspired performance, as were his costumes, which were performances in themselves! At least now a new generation will know who composed “We Are The Champions” and “We Will Rock You”, and how these songs go far beyond chants at football and basketball games. 

   Perhaps Rami Malik’s accolades and award wins transcend something else for me: his parents emigrated from Egypt. Rami and his twin brother Sami were born in the U.S.; I am uncertain whether or not his older sister Yasmine was born in Egypt or in California.

The conflicts Rami acknowledges as a first-generation Egyptian-American resonate with me because of my Italian background. Malik has stated that he identified with Freddy Mercury, as an immigrant from Zanzibar. His Arabic-speaking background and culture have strengthened Malik’s performances in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and in the television series “Mr. Robot”. Looking through the lens of another language and culture give a broader perspective and empathy on the world and its people. Thus, with or without a host for tonight’s Oscars, the show will indeed go on.

   Ciao for now.