The “In Memoriam” montage is the most gutting part of any awards show, each name of a passing talent a sock to the gut. Since last year’s Oscars, there have been many major losses to the industry, from actors to filmmakers, from major motion picture figures to those from other mediums who dabbled, meaningfully, in the movies. The montage tends to come late in the ceremony, before the biggest awards are handed out, when things are about to get serious. And nothing gets more serious than a rundown of culture’s irreplaceable losses.
This montage at this year’s ceremony was set to a cover of “Yesterday,” sung by Billie Eilish. It led with one of the more recent and shocking deaths: Kobe Bryant, who won an Oscar for executive producing the animated short, Dear Basketball.
The segment then moved through a number of losses, from major stars to important behind-the-scenes players. Among those mentioned were actors: Rip Torn, Diahann Carroll, Danny Aiello, Robert Forster, Anna Karina, Doris Day, Bibi Andersson, Peter Fonda, and original Chewbacca portrayer Peter Mayhew.
There were filmmakers, too, such as French New Wave legend Agnès Varda, classic Hollywood master Stanley Donen, and John Singleton. Producer Robert Evans got a shout-out, as did composer/conductor André Previn. The final person mentioned was also someone who passed recently: actor and producer Kirk Douglas. The Academy Awards are about joy, but joy is nothing without recognizing its opposite.