Monday, February 27, 2017

Oscars Wrap Up

Normally, wrapping up the Oscars is exciting and fun, but there was just nothing to talk about this year.  Ha!  By now we know all of the winners, and here are my thoughts about the telecast.

I thought Jimmy Kimmel was funny and did a great job.  I liked all the cute bits about the candy and the tour bus.  He did a GREAT job poking fun at overrated Meryl Streep and Matt Damon alike.  I loved the montages of acceptance speeches (I once wrote an article about memorable Oscars speeches which you can read here.)  The idea of actors and actresses watching movies and talking about their inspirations was beautiful and not overdone.  Justin Timberlake set the tone right from teh beginning - can we get that guy an honorary Original Song Oscar?

It was a night of fun, even if the In Memorium montage featured the name and occupation of a person who died, but showed the picture of a very alive colleague.

My take on the winners:

Best Picture - I really loved Moonlight.  Envelope gaffe aside, it was a pleasure to see that film receive recognition, and I'm sorry that they didn't really get their moment in the sun.  I would have also loved to see Hidden Figures win the prize.  Like everyone, I was shocked to the core that the wrong winner was announced.  I can't imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for the LLL producers to have to put on their big boy pants and hand over the awards to other people.  But they did it with grace.  My heart especially goes out to Marc Platt (who I know a little bit), and who had a very similar experience at the Tony's as the producer of Wicked the year Avenue Q won.  (Not exactly the same, but similar.)  Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty all handled the situation with class, and though I'm so sorry for the LLL folks, it proved once again that the more powerful stories are going to win.  Last year when we all thought The Revenant would win (a good, but not important movie), Spotlight pulled it out.  I'm starting to trust Oscar voters more and more.

Actor in a Leading Role - Well, add this to the percentage of time that the SAG winner did NOT match the Oscar winner.  A rarity indeed.  Casey Affleck was the frontrunner for most of awards season.  I had trouble deciphering why Denzel Washington didn't at least smile or nod when Affleck acknowledged him.

Actor in a Supporting Role - Mahershala Ali won, deserved it, and has given a series of wonderful acceptance speeches at every show.  What a class act.  I think his five day old baby was happy to give him the night off.

Actress in a Leading Role - Emma Stone was gracious and a shoo in.  

Actress in a Supporting Role - VIOOOOOOOOLLLLLLAAAAAAA!  I have supported her since her nomination for The Help, which she lost to Octavia Spencer for the same film.  Which also starred Emma Stone.  These three peas in a pod deserve the recognition they've gotten.  Now Viola's manager better be figuring out how to get Viola that Grammy so she can join the other EGOT winners.  And, she has officially joined my "favorite Oscars speeches of all time" list.

Animated Feature - I really hope that you'll see this film.  It has an important message about mistrusting the other, and what happens when the government foments fear among its citizens.  This film was a truly politically relevant film.

Cinematography - La La Land was a shoo in.  

Costume Design - It's nice to see that this category remains true to itself every year, and almost never follows the obvious "big film" choices.  However, if we're really awarding the best costumes, I stand by my assertion that Florence Foster Jenkins deserved it.  Check out the images online, you'll see what I mean.

Directing - Damian Chazelle spoke so beautifully, I almost don't feel badly about myself that he is only 31 and has already accomplished so much.  I loved how he acknowledged all of the important people who helped him achieve his vision.  PS, if you don't already know this - Mandy Moore is a choreographer who you can see on So You Think You Can Dance.  Not the Mandy Moore from This is Us.

Documentary Feature - There is no question that OJ was an unbelievable filmmaking accomplishment.  But 13th was the most important documentary of the year.

Documentary Short Subject - This year's batch was so strong it could have gone to anyone.  But these heroes from The White Helmets deserve recognition not just for the over 80,000 people they've rescued, but also for reminding certain people that ordinary humans value life, no matter where they are from. A rare moment when a Holocaust related story doesn't win.

Film Editing - Ugh, Hacksaw Ridge.  Ok, war movies win this a lot.  But seriously, could everyone stop acting like we love Mel Gibson again?  Seriously, it's distasteful.  How is it that we live in a world where Lena Dunham is more hated than Mel Gibson?  When did earnest and sometimes self righteous become more egregious than racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semetic, misanthropic... oh wait, never mind. I know when.  Moving right along.

Foreign Language Film - Guys, I'm sorry to tell you that this was a political choice.  The Salesman was quite good, but it wasn't the most moving or the most impactful.  Land of Mine was a much stronger story, and A Man Called Ove was a much more touching one.  While we are at it, though the sentiments of the speech that the director sent were laudable, they failed to mention that Iran has some of the most stringent rules about travel there (if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport, you can't enter the country), and their human rights abuses are atrocious.  I suppose his life would have been in danger had he spoken openly about that, but let's keep his remarks in context, shall we?

Makeup and Hairstyling - Suicide Squad was a very mediocre film with great makeup.  Star Trek was a good movie with great makeup.  But, ya know, ok.  Suicide Squad for the win.

Original Score - La La Land was a lock from the beginning.  But I loved the speech that Justin Hurwitz gave.  Loved.

Original Song - City of Stars from La La Land is a good benign choice, but I gotta tell you, if my kids don't learn an instrument, they aren't skipping out on the JCC soccer team.  But now I'm thinking that they could win an Oscar and take me to the show, so I'm torn.

Production Design - I honestly think that Fantastic Beasts should win, but I can see how that last section of the movie really won the Oscar for LLL.

Animated Short Film - Piper has been my favorite since I saw it in the theater.  It was just too cute to ignore.  It's been a long time since I got this one right, so I was thrilled to see it win.

Live Action Short Film - I have to be honest, Sing is one of the last films I would have chosen for the big win, but it does have a strong values message.  I still really hope that you'll see Timecode.  Do everything you can to see it.

Sound Editing - The whole Arrival movie is about sound and language and these complicated layers.  I didn't expect the win, but I can see how it was chosen.

Sound Mixing - Seriously?  Hacksaw Ridge?  War movies are the second most chosen after musicals in this category.  (and it's a Cinderella story of finally winning after 21 nominations.) Still, if you're not going with LLL, can my beloved Star Wars get some love?  I was a little bit confused last night because I had read an article that 13 Hours was removed from consideration at the last minute due to illegal campaigning, but it was still announced in the package. Can we get some clarification on this?

Visual Effects - I know Jungle Book was an amazing feat, but go back and watch Dr. Strange.  I saw nothing like it last year.  It really deserved the win.

Adapted Screenplay - Moonlight had the rare screenplay and best picture win.  It was wonderful.

Original Screenplay - We knew Manchester by the Sea was going to win this category, particularly since Kenneth Lonergan actually wrote that dialogue to overlap on itself.  That's a rare thing.

Thank you to all you readers, tweeters, retweeters, reposters, and lovers of film.  We'll see you next year!

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