Obviously, we can't get started at all in any means without addressing the absolute biggest story of the night when La La Land was announced for Best Picture only to have it snatched away a minute later and for them to retract that to say Moonlight won instead.
There is so much to talk about here that I don't even know where to get started.
First off, I don't understand how Moonlight won. Out of all the films nominated for Best Picture, that was my second least favorite (with Lion being dead last). I honestly do not see how that beat out La La Land or even Arrival or Hidden Figures etc.
Was it set up with someone purposely handing Warren Beatty the wrong envelope? How did this happen? Seriously, how does a mix up like this happen to the most important category of them all and it just also happens to be the favorite movie that gets upset at the last second by the underdog? I'm suspicious as hell.
As far as the situation itself, I think mostly everybody handled it extremely well. The La La Land group didn't storm off and piss and moan, the Moonlight people didn't rub it in their face, Jimmy Kimmel threw out some levity to ease the tension a bit and Warren Beatty got a chance to explain what went wrong before people started giving him shit.
I couldn't resist making a joke out of the situation with this t-shirt design below:
|Grab it in black text or white text|
Since I was rooting for La La Land and I was really hoping Moonlight wouldn't win, this whole ending really put a sour end-cap on what I thought was a fantastic show, so it's a good thing the rest of my notes below were almost entirely written up before I started to get tainted, which makes me laugh.
THE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR/ACTRESS PROBLEM
The situation with Best Picture wasn't the only controversy going on, but funny enough, the other one I wanted to talk about was something more related to the nominations in general rather than what happened with a messed up card placement.
Others have weighed in on the issue not just this year, but previous years before, that there should be more rules in place to determine which people can be nominated for lead/supporting awards and this year saw both Viola Davis and Dev Patel under scrutiny. Both of them have to really be debated about as to whether or not they qualify as "supporting" roles considering how much screen time they have.
When it comes to Dev Patel, it's doubtful he would have even received a nomination for Best Actor when compared to the other five men who achieved that goal, so the producers lumped him into the easier category to get into as Best Supporting Actor. How is that okay, though, considering he's likely on screen just as much if not more than Sunny Pawar? I don't have the exact numbers, but they should at the very least be equals, and when it comes to name recognition to try to sell the movie, you're certainly relying more on Patel than Pawar.
It didn't work for him, but a similar situation did work for Viola Davis. Granted, she put on one hell of a performance and I think it could be argued that if she were in the Best Picture hunt, she could have won that as well, but it makes you think about just how fair or unfair it is for her to be considered Best Supporting Actress when she's the second-biggest lead in the film and unarguably the top female in the picture. There literally is no other candidate that could have taken the "lead actress" stipulation away from her in Fences.
Should the academy allow for contenders to be determined based off the production companies opting to lobby for smaller awards to shoot for just to manage the possibility of being nominated? Should there be a system in place that tells them "no, that's not a supporting role, it's a lead one, so you can either submit them for lead or not submit them at all" or something along those lines? Food for thought.
Obviously, the Oscars and every ceremony like this always becomes a platform for personal politics, which is something I've never been a fan of. Whether I agree or disagree with what each person says, I don't see a reason why a celebration of the work done in the film industry where we give awards to individual movies should turn into a discussion about issues that have nothing to do with the particular movies being discussed.
When Zootopia won, I would have been fine with a quick mention about the social issues that the film touched upon, and that's perfectly okay to me. What I don't like, though, is when you're announcing Best Animated Feature/Short and you turn it into a discussion about the whole wall/immigration issue. Is it dumb? Yes. Does it have anything to do with the progress of animation in movies? Absolutely not.
Some people will say it was offensive for Asghar Farhadi to not show up to accept his award for The Salesman for Best Foreign Language Film, but I would disagree. To me, that's one of the few categories where a statement on immigration actually isn't out of place, nor was the small video package about cinema perspectives from other countries. You could take that as being a planned response to current government agendas but since it's an actual thing about movies, I'm cool with it.
Then, of course, there's the #OscarsSoWhite reflection from last year. I had seen some thankfully short backlash with people saying they purposely started the evening with a black actor (Mahershala Ali) winning an award to try to prove how that wasn't true. In actuality, if you look back on previous years, they tend to start off the ceremony with Best Supporting Actor/Actress quite often, so no, that wasn't some plot to be politically correct.
Nothing I say will convince you otherwise if you disagree with me, which is basically the problem we have when it comes to politics since nobody likes to listen, which is why I think it's better to just keep everything politically-charged away from a ceremony which boils down to "hey, that movie was good!"
Let's start getting into the show itself, shall we not?
THE MUSICAL PERFORMANCES
I always skip the red carpet. I don't need to watch two and a half hours of people saying other people look beautiful and asking them which designer wanted to promote their stuff enough to give a gorgeous actress an expensive dress to put on for free. I have no interest in fashion whatsoever, it's a waste of time to hear them all say that they're having a blast and so excited, blah blah blah.
For me, the show kicks off when the actual ceremony begins, and we've had a variety of ideas in the past. My personal favorite is some kind of scripted pre-filmed video montage that references a ton of the movies that came out that year, because, well, I love movies, which is why I watch this to begin with. I'm not a big song and dance guy (despite doing some theater in my past) nor do I like concerts (having never been to one in my life—yeah, crucify me in the comments, I don't like bands, only individual songs) which brings me to this year's opening number.
Justin Timberlake killed it. I haven't seen Trolls and I hadn't heard that song before, but it was super catchy and you could tell the entire crowd was really into it. It really made things hit the ground running with a ton of energy, but funny enough, it also killed two birds with one stone since the song was nominated for Best Original Song. What a great way to bring vivacity to the beginning of a long night and put smiles on everyone's faces while also showcasing a nominee.
I always love the random inserts of classic scores used for commercial breaks or to bring the next presenter to the podium. That's never going to change, so a big thumbs up for that, per usual.
Is it just me, or was Lin-Manuel Miranda kind of shoehorned into things quite a bit? They went to him multiple times and referenced him throughout, but by far the most egregious and awkwardly weird aspect of the night regarding him was his awful prologue before "How Far I'll Go" from Moana. That was cringeworthy. By the way, Auli'i Cravalho looked great in more ways than one even in the midst of being hit in the face with one of the blue flags swirling around her. Lots of poise. Great job all around for her.
Sting's performance was pretty blase. The song itself does nothing for me, the segment was bland and uninteresting, and I forgot about it immediately after it was done.
Great choice to have John Legend perform the medley of the two songs from La La Land. I'm so glad that "City of Stars" won that category. Well-deserved.
I also like the trend of having ta live musical performance to go along with the "in memoriam" segment. I'll admit that I actually teared up during it despite never meeting a single one of those people. Sara Bareilles' rendition of "Both Sides Now" was just fantastic and having it end with Carrie Fisher's "may the Force be with you" was such a great way to cap it off.
THE HOST & PRESENTERS
Jimmy Kimmel did such a great job and even though he said at the end of the show that he promised he'd never be back due to whole Best Picture fiasco, I would love to see him return in the future.
Mostly all of his jokes were great, but some of my favorites included:
- "It has been an amazing year for movies. Black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz. That's what you call progress."
- "14 nominations—one for every year Damien Chazelle has been alive. Tonight is very important for Damien. If he wins, he'll get to go to any college he wants."
- "You know if you search for Manchester by the Sea on Amazon it says customers who bought this item also purchased Zoloft."
- The line about O.J. Simpson getting an extra slice of bologna on his sandwich
- The story of a conscientious objector who chooses to work with Mel Gibson anyway
By far, the best running gag of the night, though, was the material with Matt Damon. This has been going on for a long time and for them to carry it over onto the Oscars was such a good idea as it provided some of the biggest laughs for me. Busting on The Great Wall and We Bought a Zoo, Damon tripping him, "two-time Academy Award winner Ben Affleck and guest" along with being played off with the music while he was presenting an award had me in stitches.
Perhaps the most memorable bit was the Starline Tours segment, which was falling flat at first but picked up when he started riffing with the two couples.
Next year's host of the 2018 Oscars, whoever that may be, will have a tough act to follow.
Many of the other presenters of the night were great as well. Kate McKinnon's makeup sex joke was funny, The Rock was charming as always, Shirley McLaine got in some great laughs, and I loved the ditzy Sci-Tech Awards spot with Leslie Mann and John Cho.
OTHER MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS
The Rolex advertisement was very well done, but I didn't quite connect with the series of short films with the Walmart commercials. I liked the idea behind it, but they pretty much went over my head and reminded me of the type of film school pieces that are supposed to be "super deep" to pretentious future failures. Decent concept I'd like to see them do again in the future, though.
Can we get a fact check on any sponsorship deals from the little bags of candy falling from the sky? I have a sneaking suspicion Junior Mints, Red Vines, Lemonheads and Mike and Ike are happy tonight. Great touch having the parachutes come down to "Ride of the Valkyries"
You mean to tell me Suicide Squad wins Best Makeup when Killer Croc looked like the fakest thing in a superhero movie since The Thing from Fantastic 4? Come on.
MY PREDICTIONS SCORE
I did worse than I thought I would do. This year, I honestly thought I had a chance to get nearly every guess correct, but I ended up with 15 right and 9 wrong.
The ones I got wrong were:
- Best Picture (although for a minute there, I had it right!)
- Best Actor (I thought it would be Denzel Washington)
- Costume Design (my guess was La La Land)
- Makeup and Hairstyling (I thought Star Trek Beyond)
- Film Editing (I guessed La La Land)
- Documentary Short Subject (shot in the dark; I went with Extremis)
- Foreign Language Film (shot in the dark; I went with Toni Erdman)
- Live Action Short Film (shot in the dark; I went with Ennemis Interieurs)
- Sound Editing (I had Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival as the winners for both and split the difference so I knew I'd get at least one wrong but at least one right)
When you consider the upset with Best Picture and the fact that I was completely blindly guessing with three of the awards, it's not too bad, but I was really hoping I would do better. Oh well, there's always next year.
All in all, I think this show was fantastic all the way up until the very end. A lot of progress was made this year in trying to reach out to different audiences and show that whether it's a film about an alien invasion being taken seriously as a contender, a blacklisted director getting another chance to be respected again, overlooked older talent or up and coming younger talent being recognized and the birth of a whole new future level of CGI with The Jungle Book, I think this was an overall very solid exhibition of what Hollywood has to offer.
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