LOS ANGELES—Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” took home two early Oscars on Sunday at an Academy Awards ceremony held without a host but filled with powerhouse music performances.
“Roma” won the best foreign language Oscar—a first for Mexico—and director Cuaron was named best cinematographer—two of several awards that his sentimental movie is expected to win on Sunday.
The black-and-white “Roma” went into Sunday’s show with 10 nominations, including best picture. A win would mark the first best picture Oscar for Netflix and a sign that streaming services can not only compete with traditional Hollywood studios, but beat them at their own game.
British band Queen got the first Oscar ceremony in 30 years without a host off to a rousing start with a performance of their hit songs “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” that brought the A-list crowd to its feet.
Their appearance, with singer Adam Lambert, made them the first rock band ever to open the Academy Awards and celebrated the global success of best picture nominee “Bohemian Rhapsody,” about the British band and its late frontman, Freddie Mercury.
The film took three early wins for sound and production design, and Rami Malek is considered a strong contender before the end of the awards night.
Yet Queen weren’t the only big musical acts on Sunday.
Lady Gaga and her “A Star is Born” director Bradley Cooper sang an emotional rendition of their hit song “Shallow,” sitting side by side at a grand piano and bringing the audience to its feet.
Bette Midler and Jennifer Hudson also took the stage for nominated songs from the film “Mary Poppins Returns” and documentary “RBG.”
However, “RBG, about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lost the best documentary category to rock climbing tale “Free Solo.”
In the acting races, Mahershala Ali was named best supporting actor for playing a black pianist touring the segregated U.S. South in the 1960s—his second Academy Award in three years.
Regina King won her first Oscar for her supporting role as a mother fighting for justice in “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
The lack of a host did not deter presenters from cracking Hollywood and political jokes.
“There won’t be a host, there won’t be a popular movie category and Mexico is not paying for the wall,” said presenter Maya Rudolph quipped, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s lengthy campaign to build a wall on the U.S. southern border.
Comic actress Melissa McCarthy turned up on stage dressed as an over-the-top monarch, her pockets stuffed with plush rabbits, in a nod to best picture nominee “The Favourite.”