It’s the biggest night in Hollywood and I can’t say I’m surprised with how it went! Here are my thoughts on all the winners, losers, and the evening in general.
The Big Winners
Guillermo del Torro walks away with two huge wins (Best Director and Picture) for his passion project The Shape of Water, which I couldn’t be more happy about. As much as I’d love to see Christopher Nolan win his first Oscar, this was Guillermo’s night, and he deserved every statuette he took home. The Shape of Water also won Oscars in Production Design for its lavish set pieces and in Original Score for its beautiful music composed by Alexandre Desplat. I would have loved to have seen Hans Zimmer take home another Oscar for his fantastic work in Dunkirk, but I really can’t be mad with the results here. There were many great films this last year, which makes picking winners hard, but accepting whoever wins very easy.
The same can be said about the acting categories, where Gary Oldman got his hands on his first Oscar for his work in The Darkest Hour, and Allison Janney won her first for I, Tonya. I’m not sure how anyone could get these two picks wrong on their ballots, since they’ve pretty much been on lockdown for the past few months. It was a good night to be an actor in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri too, which had wins from Frances McDormand in the Best Actress category and from Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor. Surprisingly, that was it for the film though. I was half-expecting to see it snag Best Picture from The Shape of Water, but thankfully the Academy was on point that evening (at least with their picks) and chose the right winner.
If Keegan Michael Key’s reaction to his best friend’s huge win doesn’t bring a giant smile to your face, then I’m not sure what will. Jordan Peele made history last night for becoming the first African American winner in the original screenwriting category. You know, when the #OscarsSoWhite movement was in full swing a few years ago, I didn’t blame the Academy, I blamed the studios for not giving enough chances to African American screenwriters. If more African American screenwriters were hired, it would potentially lead to more African American directors, which in turn would lead to more African American roles, etc, etc. The end result would be that more people of color will get nominated and potentially win. Oh! Look at that! They gave a black screenwriter a chance and he got nominated and won?! I’d hate to say I told you so, but….I kinda did. I just never thought it’d be one of the goofballs from Key & Peele to break the ice. Anyway, a huge congrats to Jordan on his big win.
While there were many first time winners last night, the biggest for me was Roger Deakins FINALLY winning for Best Cinematography. This man is a pioneer in the field, and has created some truly stunning pictures. He was the Leonardo DiCaprio of cinematography last night, and received a well deserved standing ovation for his win. I could not be happier for him, and it could not have been a more worthy win, since Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most visually stunning films in decades. Blade Runner also edged out War for the Planet of the Apes in the very competitive Visual Effects category, which I honestly can’t be upset about. They both had work unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, so it was going to be win either way.
Speaking of technical wins, Dunkirk had a field day here, winning Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Editing. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a war film cleaned up the sound categories, but Nolan’s vision and captivating nonlinear story proved to be more effective than the upbeat, jump-cut filled Baby Driver in the film editing category.
Honestly I think they nailed every category last night. You’ll hear no objections from me…well, not until we start talking about the ceremony itself…
The Big Losers
The only real losers of the night were everyone that watched the Oscars. This was 2nd lowest viewership rated ceremony in the 90 year history of the Academy, and I’m not at all surprised. The Oscars have unfortunately turned into a giant political platform for all of Hollywood to force feed you their irrelevant opinions, and this year’s show was probably the worst example of that I’ve ever experienced in the 10 plus years I’ve been watching. It made me legitimately sad watching this show, and there were many times I contemplated just shutting it off, which is something I never thought I’d have to do.
Look, I get it. We live in a day and age where things are starting to change, and I’m not at all against the change that is happening. The thing is, I have never once cared whether a director, writer, or actor was white or black, straight or gay, man or woman. All that I have ever cared about is whether the movie is good. That’s it. That is what the Oscars are all about (or, at least, they are supposed to be). So when I have to sit through THREE HOURS of political pen-pushing nonsense, I’m going to be a little upset. All I want to do is watch the artists I admire get the praise they deserve, hear their thankfulness and joy, and celebrate a great year in cinema. That’s unfortunately not what the Academy cares about anymore though, which is really, really disappointing.
But hey, at least all the celebrities got to speak their mind in front of all their friends in that giant echo chamber all night, right? Seriously, I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I sat through during this ceremony. I loved Jimmy Kimmel as the host last year and thought he was one of the best I’ve seen in a long while, so I was excited to see him do it again this year. Unfortunately after watching, all I could think was “Man, what a complete 180 that was.” Another one of my favorite people in the business, Emma Stone, dropped a giant disappointment bomb on me too. While presenting the Best Director category, she said “these four men, and Greta Gerwig, created their own masterpieces this year”. As if Greta Gerwig is the only one who deserves to be there? It was basically the same thing that Natalie Portman said during the Golden Globes, and just as insulting. Apparently if you’re a man, all the hard work, passion, and love you have poured into a project that you care about that led to something truly special on screen doesn’t mean much at all now. Again, I couldn’t care less if a man or woman directed a movie if the movie is worthy of praise, but I find it so unbelievably disrespectful to say something like that to a bunch of artists who are there because they made something special and are getting recognized for it. On top of all that, she also chose to ignore the fact that the category was quite diverse this year (del Torro being Latino, Jordan Peele being African America, and Greta Gerwig being a woman). You’re better than this, Emma. Please stop.
Unfortunately, that was the tone of the entire night. I do find it very interesting that, outside of Frances McDormand’s extremely awkward speech, there wasn’t a whole lot of politics coming from the winner’s speeches this year. All the agendas we were so lucky to hear about the entire evening came straight from the Academy, further proving that they would rather make a statement than focus on the thing that makes up their very existence: celebrating great achievements in filmmaking. Way to go Oscar.
Oh and by the way, if they wanted their statement of the night (#TimesUp) to carry a lot of weight, maybe they shouldn’t have given Kobe Bryant an Oscar. Just a helpful suggestion.
While this was one of the worst ceremonies I’ve ever seen, I’m not at all upset with any of the winners here. Everyone that won whole-heartedly deserved to do so. Like I said before, it would’ve been awesome to see Chris Nolan win for directing, but he’s got plenty of years ahead of him to do so. Plus, he’s already one of the best of all time in my book, even without an Oscar. The same goes for Hans Zimmer, who unfortunately had to watch Alexandre Desplat run up on stage instead of him for second time. I just can’t argue with that score from The Shape of Water though. I do kind of wish that Willem Defoe would’ve snuck in an upset over Sam Rockwell too, but both gave great performances. I’m happy to say that it was a fantastic year for film. It wasn’t quite a 2015 kinda year, but man did it come close.
I hope and pray that the Academy can return its focus to vocally celebrating great films in the near future, or this ceremony is going to be in grave danger of losing its relevancy. That’s not to say that they can’t hold a political stance on something, but why not do so with some subtlety for crying out loud?! You don’t need rub it in my face for three hours to get me to notice and appreciate a change. If you want to show us that you care about women in the industry, you can do so by nominating more women in more categories. Same goes for people of color. Granted you’ll need help from the studios to make that happen (as I mentioned before), so as to not sacrifice quality for diversity, but with the success of films like Wonder Woman, Lady Bird, Get Out, and now Black Panther, that may not be so hard in the near future. I believe in you guys.
As for a ballot count, I’ve yet to beat my record of 22 out of 24, but I can rest easy this year with 19. Those dang documentary, foreign language, short film categories are tough! Get Out was also a pleasant surprise that cost me one, and Kobe fricken Byrant won an Oscar??? Gimme a break. Oh well, maybe next year!