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Oscars 2024: The 10 best, worst and wildest moments

From Ryan Gosling's showstopping 'I'm Just Ken' to teamsters, upsets and a butt-naked John Cena — the highs, lows and WTF whoas that was this year's Academy Awards

By Kalia Richardson & Kory Grow

John Cena gave a very memorable Oscars speech (Picture: Getty)

We came, we saw, we sat there dumbstruck as Ryan Gosling gave the Oscars one hot-pink, high-Kenergy musical number and John Cena almost showed us his naked butt. The 96th Academy Awards gave us highs, lows, several long-overdue wins (Robert Downey Jr.! Wes Anderson! Christopher Freakin’ Nolan!!), and a lovely, if predictable round of victories for the juggernaut that was Oppenheimer. We also witnessed some truly WTF bits, what-were-they-thinking musical cues and more than a few oh-dear-god-no jaw-droppers. Here are the 10 best, worst and wildest moments of the 2024 Oscars.

BEST: Jimmy Kimmel brings out the folks who really keep Hollywood going

Jimmy Kimmel closed the sort of opening monologue you’d expect from Jimmy Kimmel – kinda snarky (joking about Robert Downey Jr.’s druggy past), kinda loving (shouting out snubbed director Greta Gerwig), and kinda hair-raising (describing The Zone of Interest as a “romcom” to Germans). Then came a moment from the heart. After recognizing how Hollywood pulled through the actors’ and writers’ strikes, he shined a spotlight, literally, on the people who work behind the cameras: the film crews. “This very strange town of ours, as pretentious and superficial as it can be, at heart is a union town,” he said. Then he brought out teamsters, truck drivers, the lighting crew, sound, camera, gaffers, and grips: “All the people who refused to cross the picket line.” —KG

BEST: Da’Vine Joy Randolph wins best supporting actress, brings the tears

First time nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph has swept the awards circuit thanks to her role in The Holdovers, having picked up a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice award, a Screen Actors Guild award, a BAFTA — and now she’s got an Oscar. Randolph teared up as she remembered how her mother nudged her to try theater and recalled how an early mentor encouraged her. “When I was the only Black girl in that class, when you saw me and you told me I was enough,” Randolph said. “When I told you I don’t see myself, you said: ‘That’s fine. We’re going to forge our own path.’” She finished by shouting out her publicist. “And I know y’all said don’t say [anything] about no publicist, but you don’t have a publicist like I have a publicist!” —KR

WORST: The Don Julio spon-con “Toast”

What should’ve been a celebration of Colman Domingo’s turn as the valiant activist in Netflix’s Rustin suddenly transformed into Oscar spon-con, complete with a cringe-worthy tequila toast with comedian Guillermo Rodriguez. As audience members raised their glasses, Rodriguez called the Oscar-nominated actor “Colman Flamingo,” a joke that missed the punchline by miles. To make the moment worse, the skit was followed by a Don Julio ad complete with firecrackers, line-dancing, and a DJ set. No. Just, no. —KR

WILDEST: John Cena gives out best costume award…without a stitch on

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of a streaker interrupting David Niven’s introduction of Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Kimmel and John Cena (jokingly) agreed to a reenactment. Except Cena got stage fright. “Psst, Jimmy,” Cena said. “I changed my mind I don’t want to do the streaker bit anymore.” Well, Kimmel cajoled Cena onstage with only the nominees card for Costume Design covering his unmentionables. “I can’t open the card,” Cena complained. It was strange, uncomfortable, and kind of funny moment. “The male body is not a joke,” Cena said. “Mine is,” Kimmel said. —KG

BEST: Cord Jefferson’s common sense speech to Hollywood about common cents

During his acceptance speech for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, American Fiction filmmaker Cord Jefferson asked Hollywood’s financiers to reevaluate how they invest their money. “I understand this is a risk-averse industry,” he said. “$200 million movies are also a risk. … Instead of making one $200 million, try making 10 $20 million movies. Or 50 $4 million movies. … The next Martin Scorsese is out there. The next Greta’s out there. … The next Christopher Nolan is out there.” For reference, ScreenRant reports: Fast X cost $340 million, The Flash was $300 million, and Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One cost $290 million. American Fiction cost “significantly less than $10 million,” according to ScreenDaily—KG

WILDEST: The ‘Barbenheimer’ feud gets personal

The Barbenheimer debate persists — on the Oscar stage! Oppenheimer received 13 nominations, while Barbie trailed behind with eight. Right before Fall Guy costars Emily “Kitty” Blunt and Ryan “Ken” Gosling recognized the legacy of stunt performers, Blunt mentioned the disparity and how her film had done “pretty well” on the awards circuit. In response, Gosling took a shot at his co-presenter for her film “riding Barbie’s coattails all summer.” Then Blunt bit back by accusing Gosling of “Ken-splaining,” and dropped the hammer when she referred to Gosling as “Mr. ‘I Need to Paint My Abs to Get Nominated.” Ouch. “This has got to stop,” Gosling said. “We have to squash this.” Considering this was one of the few presenter comedy bits that worked tonight: Please don’t. —KR

WORST: The Academy passes up a chance to make Best Actress history

It was the upset of the night: Almost everyone expected Lily Gladstone to win Best Actress for her role in Killers of the Flower Moon. It would make up for the film being iced out of its other categories. Then Emma Stone’s name was called out. Shaken up, the Poor Things actress accepted her award as the Frankenstein-like Bella Baxter and thanked her cast members, director Yorgos Lanthimos, and her three-year-old daughter. Yet as Stone described ripping her dress or losing her voice throughout her acceptance speech, it was hard not to think of what a statement it would have made to honor Gladstone. It wasn’t just that she was the beating heart of Killers of the Flower Moon — she would have also made history as the first Indigenous woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress. It was such a missed opportunity. —KR

BEST and WILDEST: Ryan Gosling’s showstopping ‘I’m Just Ken’

“Doesn’t seem to matter what I do/I’m always Number Two” may be the first lyrics of Ryan Gosling’s Barbie song “I’m Just Ken” — but at the Oscars, it was a showstopper. Billie Eilish, seated behind him, couldn’t keep it together as he sang those doleful opening lyrics and transformed the stage into a kaleidoscopic explosion of pink, with karate-chopped wood blocks, dancing cowboys, dancing Kens, spinning Barbie faces, a spinning Gosling, and … Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist Slash? At one point, Gosling went into the front row and had his Barbie castmates and awards-show rival Emma Stone singing along. Even the Oscars cameraman held Gosling’s hand. For just a few minutes on a Sunday night, Ken was Number One. —KG

WORST: ’20 Days in Mariupol’ being played off with… ‘I’m Just Ken?’

Blame the Ken-ductor. At the end of filmmaker Mstyslav Chernov’s moving acceptance speech for the Best Documentary award – recognizing 20 Days in Mariupol, a film about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – the playout music was … unfortunate. Chernov spoke about the resolve of the Ukrainian people, and the importance of showing injustices around the world through film – “because cinema forms memories, and memories form history,” he said. It was brilliant and moving. And then the orchestra kicked in with an especially cinematic rendition of … “I’m Just Ken.” It was the most tone-deaf musical moment of the night. —KG

BEST: ‘Oppenheimer’ fulfills its destiny by winning Best Picture

Even though Oppenheimer was one of the biggest box office successes of the year, and even though it was the Oscars’ most nominated movie on Sunday, a win – even a deserving one – was a pleasant surprise for Academy Awards viewers and the people who made the movie. “I think any of us who make movies know that you kind of dream of this moment,” Oppenheimer producer Emma Thomas said as she accepted the trophy for Best Picture. “You know you do, right? I could deny it, but I have been dreaming of this moment for so long but it seemed so unlikely that it would actually happen.” Out of 13 nominations, Oppenheimer won seven, including Best Director (Christopher Nolan), Best Actor (Cillian Murphy), and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert Downey Jr.) A few of them even walked around with their trophies behind Thomas as she spoke. It was a win for larger-than-life movies that reveal new depths to the human experience – exactly what Hollywood was made for. —KG