The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held their 90th annual award ceremony on Mar. 4. For the second year in a row, comedian Jimmy Kimmel hosted. Although this year Kimmel proved himself to be a better master of ceremonies, he still lacked the passion, charm and creativity of great Oscar hosts of the past such as Bob Hope, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Martin, Hugh Jackson and Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg.
One of Kimmel’s strongest and most fun bits of the evening was his promise of a Jet Ski to the night’s Oscar winner with the shortest speech. Academy Award winner Helen Mirren made for the most glamourous Price Is Right model ever as she showed off the 2018 Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX. But that was not all. Mid-telecast, Kimmel sweetened the deal by adding a three-day, two-night stay at a Days Inn by Arizona’s Lake Havasu.
The funniest attempt to win the prize was made by Best Supporting Actress winner Allison Janney. She started her speech by saying “I did it all by myself,” and then jokingly acted like that was all she had to say. Of course, after much laughter from the audience, she corrected the statement and continued with her thank yous.
While many winners mentioned the promised jet-ski in their speeches, it was the “Phantom Thread” costume designer, Mark Bridges, who took home the prizes thanks to his 36-second speech. Mirren, unfortunately, did not go home with him. After the telecast, Days Inn, who had not been approached about or offered up free lodging, announced that any of the year’s non-winning nominees would be offered a free two-night stay.
In another attempt to have movie stars interact with the public, Kimmel brought Oscar attendees to a screening of “A Wrinkle in Time” across the street. It was fun to see Armie Hammer armed with a hotdog cannon and to watch fandom worlds collide as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) met Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for the first time. Lupita Nyong’o, Margot Robbie, Ansel Elgort, Guillermo Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Lin Manuel Miranda self-volunteered to join in on the fun and hand out snack to the movie goers during the Oscar telecast.
In celebration of Oscar’s 90th Anniversary, the night was filled with clip packages. The most appropriate of which were the performance montages of former winners in the acting categories, reminding viewers of the powerful and impressive work from talented artists that have been honored by the Academy in the past.
Former female winners presented many of the awards. Former Best Actress winner for “The Queen,” Helen Mirren and two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda both looked stunning as they presented together. International treasure Rita Moreno looked gorgeous as ever in the same dress she wore when she won Best Supporting Actress for “West Side Story” in 1962. The feisty and fabulous 86-year-old was a delight as a presenter. Two-time Oscar Winner Jodie Foster got to show off her sense of humor as she joked with fellow past Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence that they had been “I, Tonya-ed” and tripped by Meryl Streep. Lawrence famously tripped up the stairs when she won her Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.” Eva Marie Saint, who won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1954 for “On the Waterfront,” made an elegant presenter at the age of 93-years-old.
Out of its 13 nominations, “The Shape of Water” went home with 4 Oscars, including the top 2 awards of the night: Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo Del Toro. Both of these wins were somewhat considered upsets, despite how successful the film has been at Oscar precursor shows. The controversial and dark fairy tale about a mute janitor who falls in love with a fish man is visually stunning but was recently slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit claiming Del Toro plagiarized Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Zindel’s the play “Let Me Hear You Whisper.”
For Best Picture, both “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Get Out” had won more prizes in pre-Oscar events in Awards Season, making themselves seem more likely to win. With the Academy’s preferential ballot system that is exclusively used for Best Picture, Oscar voters rank the nominees. Statistically, the film with the most second and third place votes wins Best Picture.
Jordan Peele of “Get Out” and Greta Gerwig of “Lady Bird” each had a lot of support for Best Director even though Del Toro had been winning the prize throughout the Awards Season. All three of them—Gerwig, Peele and Del Toro—also competed in the Best Original Screenplay category. Peele came out the victor for his brilliant “Get Out” script that blends horror and satire to address race relations in America. The other award for writing went to James Ivory’s adapted screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name.”
In the acting categories, the awards went to the same quartet of winners as the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA. In a year full of such exquisite and complex performances, it feels odd that some of the other awards are not spreading the wealth. Many pundits were expecting an upset in at least 1 or 2 categories. Allison Janney after the “I, Tonya” could not be dethroned by fellow television icon Laurie Metcalf of “Lady Bird.” Janney now adds an Oscar to her already impressive lists of career wins: 7 Emmys, 7 SAGs, 1 Golden Globe, and 1 BAFTA. Gary Oldman won Best Actor for his work “Darkest Hour” over newcomer Timothée Chalamet of “Call Me By Your Name” and fan favorite, Daniel Kaluuya of “Get Out.”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” stars, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, were crowned Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars, respectively. A respected character actor for more than three decades, Rockwell dedicated his win to his “old buddy” and former Oscar winner, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. The always humble McDormand had previously won Best Actress for her performance in “Fargo.” Her speech this year will go down in Oscar history as one of the most important ever given. Instead of keeping the attention for herself, she asked all the female nominees in all the categories to stand so that everyone could clap for them. She ended by encouraging everyone to reach out to these nominees about new projects and to start using inclusion riders, which requests and/or demands at least 50% diversity in a project’s cast and crew. It was McDormand’s speech that cemented the night’s true message: Everyone should be given the opportunity to tell stories.
The musical performance ranged from poignant to tolerable. Keala Settle’s stunning and emotional vocals for the song “This is Me” from the musical showstopper “The Greatest Showman” got a standing ovation. The winner of Best Original Song award went to “Remember Me” from Disney’s “Coco” and Cael Garcia Bernal’s missed the mark with his performance.
In addition to a Best Picture winner, the Oscars recognize films as a whole. Other categories, in addition to Best Picture, “Icarus” was named Best Documentary. Best Foreign Language was awarded to “A Fantastic Woman,” which is a transgender love story from Chile. And Disney Pixar’s “Coco” continued its Best Animated Feature winning streak.