The Kenergy Was Strong at Last Night’s Oscar Ceremony

From the performances to the acceptance speeches, we break down the highlights and lowlights.

How do you lose the Oscar but win the entire night? Well, Ryan Gosling just gave a masterclass.

He was a good sport in the audience, playing along even when host Jimmy Kimmel cracked that he wanted to go camping with him “and not tell our wives.” He acted out a genuinely funny fake feud with Emily Blunt over Barbenheimer (sample joke: “They called it Barbenheimer, not Oppenbarbie because you were riding on our coattails all year.”) And, most of all, he delivered an instantly iconic performance of “I’m Just Ken.”

Before his appearance was announced, lots of people speculated that he wouldn’t perform the Oscar-nominated song because he was too big a star to be relegated to “musical talent.” Others feared that the song was just too silly for a cool guy like Gosling to perform in public.

This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of who Gosling is. What makes him so wonderful is that he is gleefully, unabashedly, exquisitely goofy. He’s been goofy on SNL (his Papyrus digital short is a classic). He’s was goofy in The Nice Guys (a great film, if you haven’t seen it). He was simultaneously goofy and heartbreaking in Barbie. And he was gloriously goofy on stage last night. Advice to men who fear being goofy: It just made him more powerful.

It wasn’t just that Gosling was fully committed to the song—belting it out while wearing a bedazzled bubble gum pink suit, all while channeling Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was that it was a production. At one point, they did a Busby Berkeley-style overhead camera shot with complicated choreo. Gosling’s fellow Kens showed up, including Simu Lu and Kingsley Ben-Adir. He pranced into the audience, giving director Greta Gerwig and star Margot Robbie their chance to sing and bop along. Hottie musical producer Mark Ronson was on stage, and then Guns ‘N’ Roses guitarist Slash showed up, too, just for good measure.

I mean, why shouldn’t they do elaborate numbers like this at the Oscars? Why should the Tonys have all the fun? (As one wag quipped on X, formerly Twitter: “If you liked ‘I’m Just Ken,’ wait til you find out about Broadway musicals.”) (Unfortunately, I can’t find the original tweet, so that’s a paraphrase.)

So yes, the Kenergy was strong at last night’s Oscars, but it was overall an excellent show, with a few minor quibbles. Below, I give you a few of the highlights and lowlights.

Best Joke of the Monologue: “This night is full of enormous talent and untold potential, but so was Madame Web, so who knows?”

Best Bit from the Monologue: Kimmel “pulling a Biden” by forcing the room to applaud for the injustice of Greta Gerwig’s Best Director snub and then pointing out that they were the ones who didn’t vote for her.

Best Performance That Wasn’t “I’m Just Ken”: Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” How that young woman can create such heartbreaking intimacy on such a grand stage is beyond me. She’s a generational talent.

Most Wasted Opportunity: Having John Cena give an award for “Best Costumes” while naked. It was an inspired bit—and he had me giggling on my couch. But man, this was the year that Barry Keoghan made nudity his thing. My man dropped trou a lot. First in his controversial film, Saltburn, and then in a Vanity Fair animated cover. It would have been EPIC if Keoghan had been the night’s DNG (Designated Naked Guy).

Best Award Intro That Wasn’t Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt: John Mulaney is just a confident comedian. And it takes his kind of confidence—and comic chops—to do a non-sequitur riff on Field of Dreams while announcing Best Sound. Many thought he was auditioning to be next year’s host. Suffice it to say, he passed.

Worst Fashion Trend: The floating straps seen on Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh were…odd. As I said on X, formerly Twitter: “It looks like a ghost is removing their dresses.” It didn’t help that Blunt’s dress had a strange, um, crotch design. 

Best Dressed Woman: Zendaya absolutely stunned in an antique rose silk gown by Georgio Armani Prive. Yes, it helps when you LOOK LIKE ZENDAYA. But she was utter perfection.

Best Dressed Man: When it comes to awards-show fashion, every man is playing checkers and Colman Domingo is playing chess.

Most Unwelcome Product Placement: Was I hallucinating, or did an ad for Don Julio break out in the middle of the broadcast?

Best Upset: Zone of Interest winning for its uncanny haunting sound design was an unexpected—and inspired—choice.

Funniest Line in An Acceptance Speech: Robert Downey Jr.’s “I’d like to thank my terrible childhood.”

Most Adorable Winner: When The Last Repair Shop took home the award for Documentary Short, they brought out one of the film’s subjects: 12-year-old violinist Porché Brinker, who looked like a fairy tale princess in a pale blue taffeta dress.

Second Most Adorable Winner(s): The crew from Godzilla Minus One, who nabbed an upset award for Best Visual Effects, all while clutching Godzilla toys. What they lacked in English-language proficiency, they more than made up for in giddy, contagious enthusiasm.

Most Adorable Audience Member: They lied to us and said that Messi, the talented Border Collie from Anatomy of a Fall, wasn’t going to make the Oscars due to important dog park business (or somethin’). But it was a fake-out! Messi was there, wearing a fetching bow-tie (get it?) and effortlessly stealing the show.

Worst Dismount: Best Picture is the emotional climax of the night…except for when it isn’t. Al Pacino came out to deliver the award and he was a bit, shall we say, shambolic. He neglected to read out the 10 nominees, hastily tearing open the envelope and saying, with a slightly quizzical look on his face, “And my eyes see Oppenheimer.” It took a full 5 seconds for people to realize that Oppenheimer had actually won, which is an eternity on live TV. No, it wasn’t quite the La La Land/Moonlight fiasco, but they didn’t exactly stick the landing.

Worst Trend: The In Memoriam segment is always a bummer, and not just because it reminds us of all the great talent lost in a given year. People clap at awkward moments, as though one person’s death is more applause-worthy than another’s. And the Academy invariably leaves someone notable out. But the solution to this problem is not to run a quick, scrolling list of the dearly departed after the main segment. It felt more like a diss than a tribute, akin to the original Gilligan’s Island theme song referring to the Professor and Mary Anne as “and the rest.” Don’t do it again!

Best Gift From the Comedy Gods: When Jimmy Kimmel, known for his “Mean Tweets” segment on his late-night talk show, began reading one of his bad reviews on social media—sample quote: “His opening was that of a less than average person trying to be something which he is not”—it just seemed like the host was just doing a riff on that segment. Then he got to the punchline: “Make America Great Again.” Yes, the anonymous social media critic was, in fact, former president Donald Trump. “Thank you for watching, President Trump,” the comedian quipped. “I’m surprised you’re still up. Isn’t it past your jail time?” Oh, buuuurn.