Oscars 2017

Posted on February 27, 2017 at 12:11 am

Nice work, Oscars!  Except for that weird fake-out at the very end.

Copyright 2016 Plan B Entertainment
Copyright 2016 Plan B Entertainment

The show started off with Justin Timberlake’s terrific performance of his nominated song, a burst of jubilant  celebration that set the tone.  Jimmy Kimmel was a fine host, with a self-deprecating reminder that this was his first-ever time at the Oscars and, given the way the awards ceremony runs through hosts, probably his last.  His opening remarks were just barbed enough, joking about the “overrated” Meryl Streep and touching lightly on the political controversies of the moment.  Supporting Actor award winner Mahersala Ali got the acceptance speeches off to a wonderful start with his gracious comments about being in service to the characters he plays.  His perspective on the event may have reflected the even more important event in his life this week, the birth of his new baby.

Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis gave a deeply emotional speech, reminding the crowd that their profession celebrates “what it means to live a life.” She became the first black woman to achieve the triple threat: Oscar, Tony, Emmy.  Kimmel joked that her speech was so powerful she was immediately nominated for an Emmy.  16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho was marvelous performing the song from “Moana,” and kept her cool even when she was bonked on the head by one of the huge blue flags representing the ocean, and continued like a pro.

Kevin O’Connell is not a household name, but he is the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, with a record-breaking 21 nominations. His first win last night for “Hacksaw Ridge” was very meaningful to the insiders and his acceptance speech was one of the highlights of the evening.

Not so good — the idea of delivering snacks to the audience never worked and repeatedly dropping candy from the ceiling was pointless and silly, as was the prank of bringing unsuspecting tourists into the building.

Oscar commercials are getting as important as the Super Bowl ads. The Walmart challenge to four directors to make short films based on the same shopping receipt made the commercial breaks a lot of fun.

The theme of inspiration was beautifully presented as today’s stars paid tribute to the movies that meant the most to them when they were young and then came out on stage with the stars they saluted. Kimmel went overboard with his spoof, unfortunately using it as another opportunity to push his mock feud with Matt Damon (later introduced as a presenter only as Ben Affleck’s “guest”). I like “We Bought a Zoo!”

It was great to see Damien Chazelle become the youngest person ever to win the Best Director award, for “La La Land,” a labor of love made almost entirely by young people, and a film that revitalized the musical genre and of course paid tribute to the making of movies itself.  Tied for the record of the most Oscar nominations, it went on to win Best Actress for Emma Stone and best score, production design, and song as well.

And then, after the biggest fumble in awards show history, it turned out that “Moonlight” was the Best Picture winner after all, a superb choice.  A small movie about people often overlooked or marginalized or stereotyped, made by a group of friends who had no other aim but to honor their own history, achieved the highest award in show business due solely to its powerful honesty and the poetry of its storytelling.  That’s a Hollywood ending.

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