At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I don’t think anybody could have predicted what happened at this year’s Oscars. The big stuff-up when announcing Best Picture aside, 2017’s Academy Award ceremony was an underwhelming one, enjoyable at times but offering little in the way of memorable moments. Though far from the worst I’ve seen (that honour belongs to Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin’s effort back in 2010), this year’s telecast didn’t take full advantage of the material presented to it.
It began promisingly enough, with Justin Timberlake singing and dancing along to his Oscar-nominated song “Can’t Stop This Feeling”, his performance bringing the Dolby Theatre to its feet. Afterward, Jimmy Kimmel took over hosting duties, continuing the trend of late-night talk show personalities hosting awards ceremonies. (So far this year, Jimmy Fallon and James Corden have hosted the Golden Globes and Grammys respectively, while Stephen Colbert will be hosting the Emmys come September.)
Unfortunately, Kimmel made the mistake of carrying over his late-night material into the Awards show, much like his idol David Letterman did two decades earlier. This included his long-running “feud” with Matt Damon, and the ever-popular Mean Tweets segment which, while perfect for Kimmel’s programme, won’t make much sense to those unfamiliar with his work. On occasion though, Kimmel did come through with some funny one-liners, and encouraged the audience to give a standing ovation for the “mediocre” Meryl Streep.
There wasn’t as much Trump-bashing as I anticipated, which surprised me. The political messages were much more subtle and civil, with Kimmel being the only person directly referring to the President – even tweeting him live during the ceremony. The most overt references to Donald Trump were criticisms of his policies, with Gael García Bernal speaking out against the proposed Wall along the Mexican border, and Iranian director Asghar Farhadi declining to attend out of respect to those affected by the recent Travel Ban.
There were no big upsets during the evening, with costume designer Colleen Atwood (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) being the only person to openly declare she didn’t think she would win. Personally, the biggest surprise – and disappointment – of the night came when Suicide Squad won an Oscar. Yes, I’m aware that its victory in the Makeup and Hair-styling is not necessarily a reflection of the film as a whole, but it still hurts that a poorly-received blockbuster should receive recognition when excellent films like Moana go home empty handed.
And then there’s the upset which everyone is talking about – Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway reading out the wrong winner for Best Picture. In case you haven’t heard, Beatty and Dunaway were given the wrong envelope prior to appearing on-stage, and inadvertently declared La La Land to be the victor. Cue the cast and crew of La La Land receiving “their” Oscars, two minutes of heartfelt speeches, much embarrassment when Moonlight was revealed as the real winner, and this quip from YouTube personality Doug Walker.
What annoys me about this fiasco is that it takes away from Moonlight’s victory. Here was a small independent film telling a unique story, with the Academy showing great courage in voting it ahead of the year’s favourite, La La Land. Sure, the cast and crew received their statuettes, and their names will forever be listed as the winners, but it’s not right that their efforts should be overshadowed by somebody reading out the wrong name. Still, I’m happy that Moonlight is the winner.
As for my predictions on what, or who, would be victorious, I ended up predicting 16 out of the 23 winners. Below is a complete list of the night’s winners, with those I predicted in green and those I guessed incorrectly in red.
La La Land Moonlight
Best Actor: Casey Affleck
Best Actress: Emma Stone
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis
Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea
Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight
Best Animated Feature: Zootopia
Best Animated Short Film: Piper
Best Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made in America
Best Documentary – Short Subject: White Helmets
Best Original Score: La La Land
Best Original Song: “City of Stars” (La La Land)
Best Foreign Film: The Salesman
Best Live Action Short Film: Sing
Best Film Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
Best Sound Editing: Arrival
Best Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Production Design: La La Land
Best Cinematography: La La Land
Best Makeup and Hair-styling: Suicide Squad
Best Costume Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them