90th Oscars: Reflections

Our contributors have watched the Oscars, looked at the winners, and have decided to share with you their thoughts of last night’s ceremony and results. It was a night of potent movements, new blood, and a re-establishment of the status quo. Or was it? Below are the thoughts of each of our contributors.

Wesley Lovell

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given a do-over, returning to the scene of last year’s accounting debacle wherein the Best Actress envelope was handed out instead of Best Picture, resulting in a win for La La Land rather than the actual winner Moonlight. No such incident occurred this year, allowing the audience to enjoy a stress-free ceremony where surprises were few, but jokes were plentiful.

In his second outing as host Jimmy Kimmel continued to prove he was an affable host, carefully threading a dangerous needle where the wrong joke can land you in hot water and the right one can earn you a following. There were plenty of zingers aimed at a wide variety of targets, some biting, some gentle, but all pointed and effective.

The winners were largely inconsequential, following many of the precursors almost precisely. The four acting winners carried through from the televised slate while The Shape of Water proved that having all the right nominations is beneficial. Among the winners, I had extreme emotional responses when Roger Deakins was announced a winner for Cinematography, James Ivory became the oldest Oscar winner in history, writing an Adapted Screenplay about a gay romance that touched me more than almost any film this year, and Jordan Peele won a richly deserved Oscar for Original Screenplay.

I would have liked to have seen Beauty and the Beast win Costume Design and for anything but Dear Basketball to win Animated Feature, but I can’t say that I outright hated any of the winners or even disagreed with many of them outside of there being largely better works in most of the categories. None of the selections were outright embarrassing.

The musical numbers largely fell flat, including the dreadfully boring rendition of the not terribly impressive “Remember Me” from Coco being the most egregious and the sometimes uneven, but utterly rousing versions of “Stand Up for Something” and especially “This Is Me” being the best. The theater break in the middle was corny, but wasn’t terribly out of place.

The decision to let winners speak as long as they wanted (until late in the night when the orchestra was getting cue happy) was a nice touch and the set design was spectacular with a diamond-like proscenium a fitting tribute to the Academy’s 90th celebration.

I also applaud producers for being incredibly open and accepting of differing viewpoints and vivid and well produced segments that highlighted the various movements of the year putting activism at the forefront.

Peter J. Patrick

The show promised to be the best in years with many previous winners on hand. In some ways it was. It was slickly produced with things moving along smoothly for most of the almost four-hour telecast. It missed the boat, however, in not taking the opportunity to have past winners pose for a picture as they last did fifteen years ago at the 75th anniversary.

There were a few surprises in the so-called below-the-line categories, but the top awards presented none, which isn’t exactly a bad thing.

Frances McDormand has been the best of the winners all season long with something different to say at every wards ceremony. Gulliermo del Toro, Gary Oldman, and Sam Rockwell all delivered nice speeches as well. I can’t comment on Allison Janney because I fell asleep for a bit and missed a few awards including hers.

In all, a decent show at a difficult time.

Cheers to the production team. The set was a knockout.

Tripp Burton

No commentary provided at this time.

Thomas La Tourrette

Another Oscars has come and gone. Life sadly gets back to normal for some of us.

It was a reasonable if unexciting evening. Jimmy Kimmel did better this time as a host and kept the proceedings moving along nicely. The show still dragged on too long, but there are a lot of awards to give out. It was surprising that most comments did not go so political this year and kept more with moviemaking and the #MeToo movement which has rocked Hollywood. Several winners were from Mexico and they talked more about the dream of making films rather than totally pointed comments aimed at the president. I enjoyed an evening away from the chaos of the government, so that was pleasant. For one award, and I do not remember which one, a woman thanked her wife and one of the male winners thanked his husband [Editor’s Note: This occurred during the acceptance speech of Coco producer Darla K. Anderson who thanked her wife and co-director Adrian Molina who borrowed Anderson’s Oscar (he was not eligible to receive one) to make his speech and thank his husband.], it felt more like the Tonys where that has been more commonplace. That was a very nice and unexpected moment. Maybe times are changing, however slowly, in Hollywood as well.

For a 90th anniversary celebration, the quick looks back in the acting categories were nice, but perhaps could have been longer. They all seemed rushed. It was great to see grand dames like Rita Moreno and Eva Marie Saint onstage presenting. Quite a few more women than usual, which was to the point but still pleasing. And Maya Rudolph and Tiffany Hadish had some good lines about the fact that there would still be lots of white men to come. They were the best presenters.

There were not a lot of surprises in the major awards. Or even most of the minor ones. I did fairly well at predicting, but did not do well on the shorts, feature documentary, foreign language film, or song. On a number of those I went with what I liked best, which I thought might resonate with the Academy too. I figured Dear Basketball might well win, but it was my least favorite of the animated shorts. It has a sweet sentiment, but I was surprised that Kobe Bryant was a winner this year. I would have thought his own rape trial, where he reached a settlement with his accuser, might have been held against his winning an Oscar. I really hoped one of the others would prevail. Lou and Garden Party were much more memorable films, but maybe having been an L.A. Laker stayed in people’s memories enough. I am not sorry that The Silent Child won for best short live action film, as one’s heart ached for that little girl in the film, but had guessed the more topical DeKalb Elementary would win as school shootings were once again in the headlines during the voting period. I am sorry that Agnès Varda’s and JR’s Faces Places did not win for feature documentary as that was one of my favorite films of the year.

I had wondered what Frances McDormand would do when she won. She can be feisty and tends towards language that needs to be bleeped by the censors. She was feisty, but gave an impassioned speech about letting women tell their tales and getting financed. It was an exciting moment. The whole show could have used a few more, but at least there were some.

And it ended on a good note, with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway bravely giving out the Best Picture Oscar again, this time without a hitch. They, and host Kimmel, were good sports about it all as last year’s snafu will not soon be forgotten. And I was glad that The Shape of Water won, as a romance between a mute woman and an unknown water creature is not the typical winner.

3 Comments

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  1. Nice summaries. I wish there had been a few surprises, but like others have said there wasn’t much to really complain about. The only thing, as mentioned, was the lack of real focus on the 90th year outside montages and a few comments. Many they’re waiting for the 100th. My Grandmother turns 90 in April, so it was fun to watch with her at our small family gathering again this year.

  2. Thank you, Mike.

  3. Wes, Peter, Tripp and Thomas
    Thank you all for your expert analyses of this exciting Oscar season. It was a pleasure reading them. A job very well done.

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