After last year’s debacle, it can’t go anywhere but up, right?
The 90th Academy Awards have just wrapped up the wonderful year of film that was 2017, celebrating the best films and highlights of the last year that redefined cinema and changed pop culture. Though many of the winners were the frontrunners throughout the awards season and the ceremony didn’t prove much of a surprise, all of our favourite films and performances were represented during the show, whether it was through nominations or presentations, celebrating the likes of trailblazing filmmakers and actors like Kumail Nanjiani, Gal Gadot, Chadwick Boseman, Greta Gerwig and Daniel Kaluuya. And ultimately, most of the recipients were deserving winners, recognising films and performances that truly captured us as we sat in the theatres. What more can we ask for? Here’s what happened at the Dolby Theatre during the 90th Academy Awards:
In an opening monologue that was much lighter than years previous, yet fit the theme of the evening, Jimmy Kimmel welcomed us to an evening that was bereft of surprise and felt hours longer than it actually was. He did, however, provide one of the best running gags of the night: he promised a prize to the person who ended up giving the shortest speech of the night, a jet ski, in the style of a game show host, that would then be riffed on by several of the night’s winners.
Then, starting the show off, as they often do, with Best Supporting Actor, I’d hoped this would be the only acting category that might offer us something of a surprise. Sam Rockwell won the Golden Globe for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at the beginning of the season and was the main performance that everyone was talking about (even if it was about how controversial it was), but it was such a tough category, and he certainly wasn’t a sure thing. However, he managed to come out on top of Dafoe, Jenkins, Harrelson and Plummer, and even dedicated his award to late friend Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Following this was two of the technical categories: Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. While Darkest Hour stylists Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick were a lock for Makeup and Hairstyling, mostly for Gary Oldman’s prosthetics and Winston Churchill, it would’ve been an absolute crime if Phantom Thread, itself a film about fashion design, hadn’t won the award for Costume Design. No surprises there!
Best Documentary Feature provided our only real upset of the evening, with Icarus, a documentary about a major international doping scandal, beating out favourite Faces Places, the French documentary film following director Agnes Varda and photographer JR through rural France. This was then followed by an absolute robbery in my opinion: Dunkirk took out achievements in both sound editing and mixing, whilst Ansel Elgort and Eiza Gonzalez, stars of the film that truly deserved those awards, Baby Driver, presented the statues. As much as I liked Dunkirk, Baby Driver could not have worked as a film without its sound engineering, and it’s a real shame they didn’t win.
After the Shape of Water collected the award for Best Production Design (because that film was STUNNING), a beautiful moment for the night happened, as Chilean film A Fantastic Woman won Best Foreign Language Film. Starring transgender woman Daniela Vega in this very personal story about a transgender singer after the death of her boyfriend, this was a huge moment for inclusivity and representation, the first of many for the evening.
Surprising no one, frontrunner Allison Janney won best Supporting Actress for her role as LaVona in I, Tonya, taking to the stage and declaring, ‘I did this all by myself’, followed by much laughter. Dear Basketball was named Best Animated Short Film, giving us all a very surreal moment as Kobe Bryant received his first Oscar, and then Coco, the beautiful and well-deserving Pixar film, took out Best Animated Feature.
Rounding out the technical categories, Blade Runner 2049 won its first Oscar of the night for its Visual Effects, followed by Dunkirk once again beating out Baby Driver (among others) for its achievement in Film Editing. Again, another robbery, even in a category where I, Tonya could’ve just as easily taken out the top prize. Both these awards were also presented by Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph who, holding their shoes in hand, complaining about their feet, and shouting out to Meryl in the front row about being Tiffany’s real mum, led many of us to wonder: why the hell is Jimmy Kimmel hosting when they could have?
The Best Documentary Short Subject was then rewarded to Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, and Best Live Action Short Film was won by The Silent Child, where winner Rachel Shenton signed her speech as she said it, for the star of the film, Maisie Sly, at home.
The screenplay categories are often where the smaller, incredibly loved films find success (see: the Big Short, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Miss Sunshine, etc.), and this year was no different. James Ivory took home Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name, adapted from the book of the same name by Andre Aciman, become the night’s oldest winner at age 89. Jordan Peele was also met with great applause and cheering as he was announced the winner of best Original Screenplay, for his landmark breakout film, Get Out. Accepting his award, he said, ‘I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone would let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it. I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie.’
History was made in two ways this evening in the Best Cinematography category – not only was Rachel Morrison, nominated for her work on Mudbound, the first female cinematographer ever nominated for an Oscar, but Roger Deakins, the 14-time Oscar nominee, was finally recognised for his work on Blade Runner 2049, earning it its second award of the night. Alexandre Desplat also won his second Oscar for Best Original Score, for his work on the Shape of Water’s transcendent score. And, in a win that wasn’t certain yet definitely deserved, Coco’s emotional core of a song Remember Me won Best Original Song, a win that was a highlight of the evening for me as it is arguably the crux of the film.
After Jordan Peele’s best Screenplay win, the Directing category looked a lot less certain that it had previously, especially as Emma Stone announced the nominees with ‘These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces’. Yet it was Guillermo del Toro, the favourite for many (including myself) who won for the Shape of Water, giving yet another heartfelt speech, saying, ‘I am an immigrant. The greatest thing art does is erase the lines in the sand, when the world tells us to make them deeper.’
The night’s biggest influence was, of course, the Time’s Up movement, and in recognition of this, there was a video presentation celebrating the industry’s diverse talent and their achievements from the past year, including Dee Rees, Greta Gerwig and Kumail Nanjiani. In fact, it was Nanjiani who stole the show during this, poignantly saying, ‘some of my favourite movies are by straight white dudes about straight white dudes. And now straight white dudes can watch movies about dudes like me, and you relate. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it all my life.’
After Gary Oldman collected what was a career win (but a deserved one) for his role as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, emotion in his voice and his eyes, it was then time for Best Leading Actress. Frances McDormand’s win may not have surprised anyone when she won for Three Billboards, but what she did next was certainly a welcome surprise: setting her Oscar on the stage at her feet, she invited every female nominee in the room to stand with her, and implored the room to look around at all their wonderful talent, and to help them get their projects made. She then concluded her speech with two words: inclusion rider. As a clause in an actor’s contract that requires the cast and crew of the film to be diverse in order to work with them, this big statement summed up the entire tone of the evening and capped off a wonderful season of McDormand speeches.
There was a pretty sure winner throughout the entire night for Best Picture – that is, if they didn’t screw up at the end, as several jokes through the show continued to remind us. The presenters, the recipients, and even the envelopes seemed to remind us of last year’s big mess up, with the category’s title printed on the front of each one in BIG BOLD LETTERS. Yet as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the Best Picture award, it was no surprise when The Shape of Water was called out. Guillermo del Toro gave a nice speech, and then, just like every year, the show ended pretty abruptly. But not before Kimmel gave away his jet ski! The winner was Mark Bridges, the winning costume designer from Phantom Thread. The real winner of the evening!
All in all, it was actually the smaller categories this year who provided the greatest surprises and intrigue. Baby Driver’s complete shutout! Roger Deakins finally winning! Like always, watching the Oscars gave me great hope for the films to come this year, since that’s what the Oscars are all about: shedding light on smaller films and recognising their achievements so more people will go and see them. And I hope this year’s Oscars drives more people out there to see Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards and The Big Sick.
Congratulations to everyone who came out on top!