So, um…hi guys. How are you? See anything interesting on TV last night?
Yep, despite talks of a sweep, heavy momentum in its favor, and my repeated claims of “It’s a lock” in regards to La La Land, the Academy has instead done something astounding, in two regards. The first is the announcement that Moonlight has won Best Picture. This is a major deal for many reasons. The first is the fact it is the only movie to win Best Picture made by, about, and for the African-American community. It’s a truly artistic achievement the likes of which the Academy rarely nominates, let alone crowns the winner. It’s also about a gay man, a topic that has never won Best Picture. Hell, in November I was scared this film wasn’t going to be nominated, and look where we are now? As shocked as I am, and as much as I loved La La Land, I can’t be mad at this. An artistically flawless movie that I absolutely cherish has won Best Picture, and that’s all I can hope for. This should be an exhilarating, exciting moment for any film lover. However, many people are still dealing with feelings of confusion, and that’s because of reason number two.
You see, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the stars of both Bonnie and Clyde and my dreams last night, announced the winner of Best Picture at the end of the show. And they, unsurprisingly based on the momentum, the season, and the other six awards it took home, announced La La Land. The producers even started giving their speech when the show’s producers and host Jimmy Kimmel had to rush out onstage to reveal that Moonlight had actually won the big prize. It is one of the craziest, most surreal things I’ve ever seen on television, let alone at the Oscars. However, as I stated above, while I enjoyed La La Land just a fraction more than Moonlight, and while I very much wanted to have predicted the Best Picture winner a full year in advance, there is absolutely no way to be mad that an equally good (and in some ways, superior) film won Best Picture. And as I said, it’s not like La La Land went home empty handed, winning Best Director, Best Actress for Emma Stone, Best Score, Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design.
Before we talk about the other awards of the night, let’s talk about Kimmel. If I’m being honest, I’d say Kimmel ranks up there with Ellen as one of the best hosts in recent memory. He was smart, he was funny, he was pointed but never mean, and his bits at least mostly landed. The feud with Damon was incorporated into the show excellently (the tripping bit was good, the “Mentor” videos throughout built to the best gag of the night, and I laughed until I cried when they introduced “Ben Affleck and Guest” to present Best Original Screenplay), and the candy bit was fun, but he hit a bit of a wall when it came to the Tour Bus bit. It was a little too disorganized to work as an effective joke, and while Gary and his fiancée whose name escapes me were great, the bit just lasted too long. Oh, and I will never bash “Mean Tweets,” which I find hilarious, but they missed the best opportunity. I honestly don’t get how you make the Meryl Streep “Overrated” joke and not have her read those tweets about herself. I mean, there’s not even political motivation there. Even Dennis Miller would go for that joke, it’s just so easy. Yet overall, Kimmel handled the show with poise and humor, and he handled a very difficult situation at the end with a David Niven-like charm (note: Jimmy Kimmel looks nothing like David Niven). If I had a vote, I’d say invite him back in the future. I’d love to see them alternate between Kimmel and Ellen for the rest of eternity.
Getting back to the awards show, Moonlight didn’t just go home with Best Picture and nothing else. It also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. Ali actually won two awards, as his speech at the beginning of the show was easily the best speech of the night. The other major contender, Manchester by the Sea, also had a good night, taking home two Oscars, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor for Casey Affleck (I’d have preferred Denzel, but man, Casey was good in that movie). We also got to witness Viola Davis complete the Triple Crown of Acting, one shy of an EGOT, and then floor the room with one of the best speeches of the night. My God, the woman’s a treasure.
Some awards played it safe, such as the wins for The Salesman and O.J.: Made In America. Other awards were welcome surprises, such as Arrival’s win for Best Sound Editing and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them winning Best Costume Design, to the absolute shock of designer Colleen Atwood. Other awards showed us the extent of the love for Hacksaw Ridge, as Mel Gibson’s war drama pulled off the upset over La La Land for Best Sound Mixing (deservedly) and Best Film Editing (ehhh, sure, I guess). And then…sigh…there’s the fact that we now have to say the phrase “Academy Award winner Suicide Squad.” Forget the drama with Best Picture, this is where the real controversy should be focused. I didn’t hate the movie, but making the Joker emo is not enough to earn you an Oscar.
Other stand out moments include the cast of Hidden Figures introducing the Kathryn Walker, the woman who inspired the film and put a man into orbit, a “Ride of the Valkyries” inspired candy invasion, and all of the musical numbers. From Justin Timberlake’s show stopping opening performance of “Can’t Stop the Feeling” to Lin-Manuel Miranda and Auli’I Cravalho’s traditional performance of “How Far I’ll Go” (although I got a sick sense of Schadenfreude out of watching the young sixteen year old get hit in the face by a flag), from John Legend’s elaborate renditions of the La La Land songs to Sting’s surprisingly warm, emotional, and stripped down rendition of “The Empty Chair.” Honestly, it was one of the better shows in recent memory, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
And that wraps up this year’s Oscar race! I hope you enjoyed the crazy, crazy journey we have taken together, and I hope you’ll stick around for years to come! I’ll be giving you one week off before I begin the next round of Oscar predictions (oh yes, they’re coming…), but we’ll pick up bright and early next week. See you all then, hope you had as much fun as I did, and thanks for making this year’s Oscar race so great!
Best Picture: Moonlight
Best Director: Damien Chazelle-La La Land
Best Actor: Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea
Best Actress: Emma Stone-La La Land
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali-Moonlight
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis-Fences
Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight
Best Animated Feature: Zootopia
Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman
Best Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made In America
Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets
Best Animated Short: Piper
Best Live Action Film: Sing
Best Original Score: La La Land
Best Original Song: “City of Stars”-La La Land
Best Sound Editing: Arrival
Best Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Production Design: La La Land
Best Cinematography: La La Land
Best Costume Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Suicide Squad
Best Film Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Bok
La La Land-6
Manchester by the Sea-2