A joke made at the expense of the visual effects artists behind Cats didn't sit well with everyone in the crowd. During the televised ceremony, Cats stars James Corden and Rebel Wilson took the stage donning outfits vaguely similar to the digitized fur they each sported in director Tom Hooper's feature adaptation. However, when they made a joke that knocked the movie's visual effects team specifically, fellow presenter Maya Rudolph was having none of it.
Cats was adapted from the smash-hit Broadway production and was regarded as one of the most talked-about movies of the year. It was even slated for release in December, which is typically when studios roll out the last of their prestige pics ahead of the Oscars. However, early reactions to the film were not positive, and that sentiment continued through the film's theatrical release. It even withdrew from its own awards season campaign, (though it did take home a Razzie, for what it's worth).
Though the film was, by all accounts, a cinematic disaster, Rudolph didn't seem pleased that the effects artists ended up being blamed for its failure.
Only Maya Rudolph seemed to be concerned that the VFX people for CATS were perhaps being scapegoated for a cheap gag. The fault for that lies with Tom Hooper who didn't lay the groundwork for the effects. I agree with Maya's frown. 💕— Andrew "The Third Pope" Pope (@WhitlockAndPope) February 10, 2020
"Maya Rudolph unimpressed at Rebel Wilson and James Corden's Cats act is everything," tweeted one Oscar viewer. Another observed that The Good Place star "did NOT laugh at that Cats visual effects joke."
Earlier in the evening, Rudolph herself to the stage with fellow SNL alum Kristen Wiig to present the award for Best Costume Design. While the two began a back-and-forth schtick that included a medley of well-known songs, the camera caught pop sensation Billie Eilish reacting with a questionable look on her face, which immediately went viral.
Eilish herself wasn't competing for an Oscar, having just cleaned up at The Grammys a couple of weeks prior, though she did sing The Beatles' "Blackbird" as part of the show's "In Memorium" segment. She will, however, be singing the theme song to the 25th (official) James Bond flick, No Time To Die, so she could end up as a contender next year.