In the twelve months since Jimmy Kimmel last took to the Dolby Theatre stage, Hollywood has been forced to undertake much soul-searching. First, there was the Best Picture debacle that left the Academy red-faced; then, there was the on-going discussions about representation in the film industry; and toward 2017’s end, there was the fallout from revelations about Harvey Weinstein.
With these factors to consider – and the 90th anniversary of the Oscars to celebrate – it came as a surprise to learn that Kimmel, whose hosting prowess is ordinary at best, was invited back to present this year’s ceremony. Blessedly, it appears the Academy made the right decision in rehiring Kimmel, for in his second consecutive year as host, he looked more relaxed and comfortable, relying less on his late-night material and presenting fresher content to the audience.
For much of the evening, the ceremony focused on the political upheaval and social change which has dominated the industry, by the host, his fellow presenters and many of the award recipients. There were shout-outs to Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement, raucous responses for the female nominees, and advocacy for minority groups from the likes of Kumail Nanjiani and producer Rachel Shenton, who accepted her Oscar for Best Live-Action Short with the use of sign-language.
Other highlights of the evening included Jimmy Kimmel and a number of A-listers thanking an audience of cinemagoers, who were previewing A Wrinkle of Time, for visiting the theatre; Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph engaging in some hilarious on-stage banter; Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway being given a second opportunity to read out the winner for Best Picture; and Keala Settle performing the inspirational song “This is Me” with a group of choristers that included – unless this author’s eyes deceived him – Tyler Oakley and Gaten Matarazzo.
As for the ceremony’s most disappointing moment, that would have to go to the stars of Star Wars: The Last Jedi for their presentation, which was unfunny at best and cringeworthy at worst. Otherwise, there wasn’t much to complain about.
While there were no mix-ups when bestowing Oscars at this year’s event, there were plenty of surprises – this author only predicted 11 of the 23 winners, down from last year’s 16. Icarus, which looked at state-sponsored doping in Russia, beat audience favourite Faces Places for Best Documentary Feature; Jordan Peele was a well-deserved winner in the Best Original Screenplay category, claiming victory against Martin McDonagh and Get Out’s detractors; and Roger Deakins finally received a Cinematography Oscar for his work in Blade Runner 2049.
Unfortunately, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird failed to win-over the Academy, despite riding upon a wave of female empowerment. Instead, the evening’s highest honour went to Guillermo del Toro for his fantasy project The Shape of Water – a review of which will be coming soon. While some may see the move as questionable, surely everyone will see the irony in the Academy awarding Best Picture to a film whose protagonist has no voice, in a year which is all about making the voiceless heard.
Anyhow, below is how this author fared in his Oscar predictions, with those that were wrong being struck-through and in brackets.
Best Picture: The Shape of Water (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro
Best Actor: Gary Oldman
Best Actress: Frances McDormand
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney
Best Original Screenplay: Get Out (Three Billboards)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me by Your Name
Best Animated Feature: Coco
Best Animated Short: Dear Basketball
Best Foreign Film: A Fantastic Woman (The Square)
Best Documentary – Feature: Icarus (Faces Places)
Best Documentary – Short: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (Edith + Eddie)
Best Live-Action Short: The Silent Child (The Eleven O’Clock)
Best Original Score: The Shape of Water (Dunkirk)
Best Original Song: “Remember Me”, from Coco (“This is Me”, The Greatest Showman)
Best Film Editing: Dunkirk (Baby Driver)
Best Sound Editing: Dunkirk
Best Sound Mixing: Dunkirk (Baby Driver)
Best Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049 (Dunkirk)
Best Production Design: The Shape of Water
Best Costume Design: Phantom Thread (Beauty and the Beast)
Best Makeup: Darkest Hour
Best Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049 (War for the Planet of the Apes)