Janelle Monae opened the 92nd Academy Awards Sunday night with a blistering performance that started off in Mr. Rodgers' home and ending with audience participation. Monae's 2020 Oscars opening included multiple references from the best movies of 2019, including some that were snubbed by the awards. The electric performance earned rave reviews from those at home.
Monae is best known for her music, but she has recently broken into acting. She had a featured role in the 2016 Best Picture winner Moonlight and starred in Hidden Figures. She also starred in Welcome to Marwen, the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet and voiced Peg in Disney+'s Lady and the Tramp. She also starred in Julie Taymor's The Glorias, which was screened at the Sundance Film Festival last month.
Academy officially gets a pass for not nominating Greta Gerwig because Janelle Monae gave a shout out to women so it’s all good you guys— Lindsay Ellis (@thelindsayellis) February 10, 2020
The opening started with Monae on the Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood set in reference to A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which earned Tom Hanks an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. She later donned flowers, as Florence Pugh did in Ari Aster's horror film Midsommar. Billy Porter also joined her to sing a bit of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," a nod to Rocketman.
"Tonight we celebrate all the amazing talent in this room," Monae announced at the end. "We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films. And I'm so proud to stand here as a black queer artist telling stories. Happy Black History Month.
Later, Chris Rock joked about the opening during his bit with Steve Martin.
"While we were backstage watching [the opening number], Steve said to me, 'J.Lo's killing it two weeks in a row!" Rock joked, referring to Jennifer Lopez's Super Bowl LIV halftime show.
Monae's performance earned widespread praise from fans and celebrities online.
"That performance though!!! Incredible [Janelle Monae]," Reese Witherspoon wrote.0comments
Photo credit: CRAIG SJODIN via Getty Images