(Reuters) – Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma took home two early Oscars on Sunday at an Academy Awards ceremony without a host but filled with powerhouse music performances.
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.
“I am an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone,” said King. “Mom, I love you so much.”
British band Queen got the first Oscar ceremony in 30 years to be held 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, 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.
Organisers are under pressure to make Sunday’s live ceremony a must-see television event after a record low audience in 2018.
Roma won the best foreign language Oscar, and Mexican director Cuaron was named best cinematographer – two of several awards that his sentimental movie is expected to win on Sunday.
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.
The lack of a host did not deter presenters from cracking Hollywood and political jokes.
“There won’t be 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.
Lady Gaga is widely expected to take home her first Oscar for her hit song “Shallow,” which she will perform on Sunday in a much-anticipated live duet with co-star and best actor nominee Bradley Cooper.
In other musical performances Bette Midler and Jennifer Hudson performed 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.”