Oscars 2018: The highs, the lows, and the sillies
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Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony brought a variety of jokes, political statements, musical performances, great fashion, and celebrations of filmmakers and film.
Highlight: Latinx Representation
As Oscar Isaac announced the winner for Best Animated Feature, he joyfully cried out “¡Viva Latinoamérica!”, a sentiment that would echo through the evening as the Mexico-set Coco took home the prize. Latinx artists and filmmakers won a variety of awards, including the Chilean A Fantastic Woman winning Best Foreign Film and Mexican director Guillermo del Toro taking Best Picture and Best Director for The Shape of Water.
Though it would be hard to beat the meme-worthy finale to last year’s Oscars, this year’s ceremony fell flat in terms of any kind of major surprise, upset, or comedic moment. The predicted frontrunners won in almost every category, making for a night of triumphant moments for the winners, but little excitement for viewers at home.
Silly: The Jetski
In a bid to shorten the evening’s runtime, host Jimmy Kimmel offered the prize of a new jetski to whoever had the shortest speech, with Phantom Thread’s costume designer Mark Bridges zipping off with the prize for his 30 second speech. Despite Kimmel’s efforts, the ceremony lasted almost four hours.
The Oscars often have a dominant frontrunner that sweeps many categories, both major and technical, which can make the evening feel repetitive. This year, however, the Academy spread the awards out to many films, with The Shape of Water winning the most awards (four) and Dunkirk following behind with three. No other film got more than two awards.
Low: Lady Bird Shutout
Despite garnering nominations in five out of the eight major categories, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird failed to pick up a single award. Every other Best Picture nominee except for The Post won at least one award.
Silly: Hot Dog Cannons
In a heartwarming but chaotic gambit, Kimmel asked A-Listers including Mark Hamill, Gal Gadot, Margot Robbie to go with him to a theatre across the street, where an unsuspecting audience was previewing Ava DuVernay’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time. Bearing everything from six-foot-long sandwiches to hot dog cannons, the celebrities surprised the audience, making for a sweet moment of snack-sharing.
Mixed Bag: #MeToo Coverage
The Oscars strived to address the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, but the politics were ultimately something of a mixed bag. Though the importance of representation was highlighted in a montage featuring Mira Sorvino, Kumail Nanjiani, and others, and Common and Andra Day’s performance of their song “Stand Up for Something” notably highlighted activists such as Tarana Burke (founder of the Me Too movement) and the legendary Dolores Huerta, the coverage often skirted the systemic problems in the industry.
Additionally, the awarding of Oscars to Kobe Bryant (accused of sexual assault in 2003) and Gary Oldman (accused of domestic violence in 2001) struck a discordant tone with the emphasis placed on the #MeToo movement. Though one could certainly be both the Best Actor and have committed domestic abuse, the wins for Oldman and Bryant felt off on a night focused on the recent Hollywood reckoning.
On the brighter side, Frances McDormand’s speech highlighted a concrete action actors can take to improve the film industry: “inclusion rider,” a provision added to contracts to ensure intersectional diversity in front of and behind the camera. Time will tell whether the “inclusion rider” provision will lead to significant change in the industry.