Oscars 2018: Inclusion Riders, the Jetski Challenge, and Rita Moreno’s Dress
Posted on March 5, 2018 at 8:15 am
The 90th anniversary Oscar broadcast was one of the best in many years and not a minute too long. Look, with the Oscars you know what you’re signing up for. You may not be interested in the awards for Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing, but I respect the Oscars for recognizing the dozens of people you never see the rest of the year for every one you see on screen, all vital to the impact of the film. And if they didn’t televise those awards, how would we see people like that guy whose tuxedo sleeves stopped just below his elbows? And I expect and appreciate the political issues addressed in the show. Without them, it would be eerily sterile. What are the nominated films about, after all? They are about justice. They are made to touch our hearts and inspire us to be more inclusive and fair. So, it is not just right, it is deeply moving when Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani remind us that they are immigrants. And also funny when Nanjiani says, “And I am from Pakistan and Iowa, two places that nobody in Hollywood can find on a map.”
I normally do not watch the red carpet, but this year I turned it on a bit early and was really delighted with the ABC pre-show interviews, especially when Michael Strahan showed Timothee Chalamet a video of the high school drama teacher who changed his life wishing him well, along with current students at the “Fame” school he attended just a couple of years ago, and the glimpse of Gary Oldman in full Winston Churchill makeup and costume, dancing to James Brown.
Then, on a prism-circled stage set that kept reminding me of the Shimmer in “Annihilation,” Jimmy Kimmel led off with a graceful, witty opening, candid about the turmoil of the past year, that set the tone perfectly. The promise of a Jetski for the person giving the shortest speech was silly, and having Dame Helen Mirren as the prize girl really made it work. It also inspired a couple of funny callbacks through the night.
Frances McDormand, asking the women nominees to stand, and introducing the world to the term “inclusion rider” — a contract provision stars can insist on that requires film productions to employ a specific number of women and minorities, including the crew, and may require pay equity/parity as well,
Alexandre Desplat, thanking the musicians who worked on “The Shape of Water” and the musicians playing live at the broadcast,
Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, who should be Golden Globe hosts next year,
Jordan Peele, the first African-American to win a screenplay Oscar, speaking from the heart about what the experience has meant to him,
Jodie Foster blaming Meryl Streep for Tonya-ing her,
Two golden age of Hollywood presenters reminding us what “star” really means — Rita Moreno and Eva Marie Saint, Moreno in the same dress she wore when she won the Oscar for her performance in “West Side Story,”
The outstanding 90th anniversary montage, reminding us of the best that movies — and humans — can be,
The excellent montages introducing the acting awards,
Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder singing Tom Petty during the In Memoriam segment,
The third “amigo” wins — Guillermo del Toro joins his two director friends from Mexico in winning a Best Director Oscar (Alejandro G. Iñárritu won in 2014 for “Birdman” and in 2015 for “The Revenant.” And in 2013, Alfonso Cuarón won for “Gravity”).
“Remember Me” is a lovely song, which well deserved its Oscar, but for some reason the live performance sounded off-key,
The trip to the movie theater next door, a stunt that went on too long and didn’t really work,
The people inexplicably left out of the In Memoriam segment, including Tobe Hooper, Oscar-winner Dorothy Malone, Powers Boothe, and John Mahoney.
For a show in which there were no surprises or upsets, it remained lively and engaging all the way to the end. And Faye and Warren and Price Waterhouse got it right this time.