HOLLYWOOD—We have been patiently waiting for weeks to find out how awards season would end. Well, the wait is finally over. The 90th (yes, it’s been 90 years America), Academy Awards better known as the Oscars were handed out on Sunday, March 4 from the famed Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Would “The Shape of Water” hold its momentum as a Best Picture contender, or would “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” or “Get Out” upset. Have to say it was a nail-bitter to say the least, but the “The Shape of Water” was the night’s big winner taking home four prizes including Best Picture.
Jimmy Kimmel returned as host and man, I knew his monologue would be interesting, but with everything that has transpired in the past year and in recent weeks I had no idea rather talk would be comical, political or personal.
Things kicked off with a bit of comedy with some throwback imagery from the ceremony from its earliest days, before Kimmel chronicled the huge fiasco with the 2017 Best Picture award. The fact that he poked fun at Hollywood’s climate, Oscar himself and Harvey Weinstein was brave, but he did so on a tamer note America. He poked fun at “Black Panther’s” box-office, but I literally gasped when he discussed the pay disparity between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams for “All the Money in the World.” Beyond highlighting some of the year’s biggest films and the stars of them, the jokes were very light this year. Solid monologue, but nothing that blew my mind, but I loved that “The Price is Right” set-up utilizing a jet-ski and Helen Mirren; that was absolutely hilarious. He even sweetened the deal by providing a trip to Lake Havasu. I loved that he Academy showed clips of all previous winners for Best Supporting Actor during its 90 years.
The first Oscar of the night for Best Supporting Actor was presented by last year’s winner Viola Davis, to Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” I loved Rockwell’s speech; even though it was prepared it seemed so authentic and genuine. The Oscar for Best Hairstyling and Make-up went to “Darkest Hour.” Acting legend Eva Marie Saint presented Best Costume Design to “Phantom Thread.” Best Documentary Feature was a victory for “Icarus.” Double nominees (Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actress), Mary J. Blige took to the stage to perform an emotional rendition of her hit “Mighty River.”
The Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Sounding Mixing both went to “Dunkirk,” where the sounds are so realistic it is downright scary as hell. I adored that bit between Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani was not only hilarious, but heart-warming. The duo presented the Oscar for Best Production Design to “The Shape of Water.” Singer Miguel, Gael Garcia Bernal and Natalia Lafourcade took to the stage to perform the Oscar-nominated song, “Remember Me” from the animated film “Coco.” Not a song that gives chills in the bones, but it does bring a level of solidarity to people.
Screen legend Rita Moreno presented the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film to “A Fantastic Woman.” Time for another acting award to be handed out, this time in the race of Best Supporting Actress, where we’ve had a clear front-runner all season, but could an upset be in play? Nope, cause Allison Janney was such a revelation in “I,Tonya” if she had lost I would have been stunned. “I did it all by myself,” joked Janney while accepting her award on stage.
Jimmy really did his best with the skits, but too many in my opinion were pure misses. Just like that skit with Jimmy and his younger self. Best Animated Short Film was a victory for NBA icon Kobe Bryant for “Dear Basketball.” Wow, we are indeed seeing plenty of history taking place here, because I don’t think a NBA player has ever won an Oscar America. The Oscar for Best Animated Film went to “Coco.” “Mystery of Love,” a nominee for Best Original Song delivered a melody that places one in a trance, but also seemed to have a kidlike quality to it. “Blade Runner 2049” walked away with the trophy for Best Visual Effects, where I think many would have predicted “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” would reign supreme in that race.
Have to say the pacing for the 2018 ceremony is moving at a feverish pitch, where more than half of the prizes were already handed out within the first 2 hours of the show. Former Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey presented the Oscar for Best Film Editing to “Dunkirk.” Here is another bit Kimmel did that worked was actually bringing some of the actors and actresses to surprise a group of moviegoers. Those stars included Gal Gadot, Lupita Nyong’o, Ansel Elgort, Margot Robbie, Armie Hammer and Guillermo del Toro. Its moments like this that make the Oscars feel more in touch with mainstream America. The audience was absolutely thrilled to see Kimmel and all the actors. I mean these people were beyond excited to see such a caliber of movie stars in the room.
It was a hilarious moment to watch Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph deliver some impeccable comedic timing, asking if the Oscars were #TooBlack. The ladies presented the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject to “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” and the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film to “The Silent Child.” Common took the stage alongside Andra Day to perform the song “Stand Up For Something.” The vocal range on Andra Day is phenomenal.
The #MeToo movement came full-circle with an actual piece from the Academy highlighting female empowerment, minority inclusion, diversity in filmmaking and changing the status quo. It was a really powerful piece to watch and it was not only inspiring to me as a filmmaker, but those who dream to dream big. Now things are starting to get interesting, as the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay went to James Ivory for “Call Me by Your Name.” In the race for Best Original Screenplay, it was a victory for Jordan Peele “Get Out.” He made history becoming the first African-American to EVER win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The Oscar for Best Cinematography was finally a victory for Roger A. Deakins for “Blade Runner 2049.” Deakins had been previously nominated 14 times, so it was long overdue.
The final performance of the night for “This is Me” was performed by Kaela Settle, and man I cannot believe I haven’t heard this song before. Not only does it have an uplifting message, but its catch as hell. Christopher Walken received a standing ovation from the crowd while presenting the Oscar for Best Original Score to “The Shape of Water.” The contenders for Best Original Song were all deserving, however in the end it was Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez for “Remember Me” from the film, “Coco.” This is upset as I think many expected “This is Me” to reign supreme for the award.
Loved what Emma Stone echoed about Gerta Gerwig while presenting the prize for Best Director. Would Gerwig or Peele make history, nope, because it was time for Guillermo del Toro to get the opportunity to shine for his masterpiece “The Shape of Water.” Oscar went against tradition this year, with acting legends Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Lawrence helping to present trophies in the Best Actor and Best Actress races.
He was expected to be the victor all season long, and Gary Oldman who has been overlooked for years won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in “Darkest Hour.” In the Best Actress race it was a victory for Frances McDormand for her sensational turn in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” McDormand was very anxious while delivering her speech. She had ever single female nominee of the night to stand with her in celebrating the power of women. It was indeed an exciting moment to say the least. Hands down the best speech of the night! That woman sure is quirky, but I love her!
Would we have another fiasco like last year when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway opened the envelope and reveal the name of the film that wasn’t the actual Best Picture? Well those two acting legends returned for a do-over as they presented the Best Picture prize. So who was going to reign supreme? I was on the edge of my seat all night, but it was “The Shape of Water” that took home the coveted prize. So clocking in slightly less than 4 hours, the 2018 Academy Awards are now in the record books. It was a very fun night, where the wealth was spread out across the board, can’t wait to see how things turn out in 2019!