Random Thoughts: The 2017 Oscars

It’s hard to believe another year and another Oscars ceremony has come and gone. As expected a lot of things went the obvious route and there were very few surprises. The were some great speeches, some weird moments, and relentless political babbling from Jimmy Kimmel . But the 2017 Academy Awards will forever be remembered for its ridiculous goofup to end the night. As a whole it was a fun celebration of the past movie season. As I do every year, here are a few random thoughts.

  • Jimmy Kimmel had some decent moments. There were some good gags particularly his constant bit with Matt Damon and some of his political stuff hit the mark. Eventually politics got old yet Kimmel milked it dry. He ended up helping the show run about 40 minutes over. Overall not bad hosting but nothing special.
  • Let’s get right to it. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway’s Best Picture announcement is now etched in Oscar history. The win went to “La La Land”, they had time to walk up to the stage, they hugged and celebrated, gave acceptance speeches, and then someone magically got word that “Moonlight” was the actual winner? I’m not a conspiracy theorist but something seems a little fishy.
  • Beatty has gotten a lot of heat, but it’s pretty clear he and Dunaway aren’t to blame. The production team and PricewaterhouseCoopers are more responsible for the flub. Who knows the full truth, but it sure is a lot to swallow. Pretty embarrassing. It was a kind move by Kimmel to try and deflect the blame towards himself.

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  • As for “Moonlight”, it remains my least favorite of the Best Picture nominees. I just don’t share the adoration. It’s a very okay movie that loses a ton of steam once Mahershala Ali leaves the screen. Aside from Ali and some striking camerawork, “Moonlight” takes a long time to say much of anything, but it does check several important boxes that will help Academy voters to feel better after last year’s drumming.
  • Hats off to Jordan Horowitz, producer for “La La Land”. In what had to be a major disappointment he was incredibly gracious is handing the trophies over to “Moonlight”. Wonderful appreciation shown back by Barry Jenkins. Both men showed a lot of class.
  • “La La Land” didn’t go home empty-handed. The film won six Oscars despite missing a well-deserved Best Picture win. There were hints it could lose the biggest award. For some reason many naturally rebel against movies that earn a lot of awards attention. Plus with so many people currently hellbent on division why would the Best Picture Oscar go to a nostalgic movie aimed at making us feel good and offering a cinematic and musical escape? Unfortunately the writing was on the wall.
  • Remember when “Hacksaw Ridge” won for Best Editing? Historically there’s a strong link between winners of Best Editing and Best Picture. I thought for a second that we might be blindsided at the end of the show. Actually we were but for much different reasons.
  • Predictably Casey Affleck won the Best Actor Oscar for “Manchester by the Sea”. Great performance but Denzel Washington was my hands-down favorite. I knew he was a long shot to win, but he gave a performance not to be forgotten. And what an amazing presence at the Oscars!

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  • Speaking of Affleck, notice how he got a standing ovation yet many still treat Mel Gibson as a pariah? Another case of selective forgiveness?
  • And speaking of Mel, it looked like he was having a good time and took Kimmel’s ribbing like a champ. It was also nice to see his genuine joy for the others who won for “Hacksaw Ridge”.
  • My goodness, Viola Davis. Not only did she give one of the best performances in “Fences”, but she gave the best speech of the night. She was gracious and genuinely moved. Supporting Actress was a strong category but Davis was definitely the best. It was so good to hear her name called.
  • While we are on great speeches, the humility shown by Mahershala Ali was incredible. His Supporting Actor win clearly touched him which is always great to see. He gave three really good performances in 2016 and it’s good to see his work rewarded.
  • The parachuting candy thing – did they really need to do it THREE times?
  • On the other hand the tour bus bit was pretty funny. Imagine that surprise! And thanks to it #garyfromchicago became a thing!
  • One of the real treats of the night was seeing winners spread out among most of the Best Picture nominees. “La La Land”, “Moonlight”, “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Manchester by the Sea”, “Fences” and “Arrival” each took home statues.
  • Sunny Pawar was absolutely delightful. Kimmel looked a little goofy during their moment but how adorable was Pawar?

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  • The In Memoriam was particularly brutal this year. Many scoff at the Academy’s “death montage”. I actually appreciate the honoring of their memory. Fisher, Hurt, Kennedy, Riva, Reynolds, Wilder, Paxton, Yelchin, Kiarostami and so many more. Tough losses.
  • And Sara Bareilles’ singing of “Both Sides Now” during the In Memoriam – emotional and beautiful.
  • The Best Picture goof up wasn’t the Academy’s only mistake. During the In Memoriam costume designer and four-time Oscar nominee Janet Patterson was shown. She passed away last October. Here’s the problem, along with her name was a picture of Jan Chapman, a producer who is quite alive. Come on Academy, really?
  • Here’s a fun Oscar fact that may have went unnoticed. Kevin O’Connell won the Sound Mixing Oscar for “Hacksaw Ridge”. It was his 21st nomination without a single win…until last night!
  • Despite taking up a Best Actress spot from several more deserving women, they still found a way to give Meryl Streep a standing ovation. Yes, we get it, she’s great, move on.
  • I’m usually not that into the musical performances on Oscar night but a couple really stood out. I mentioned Bareilles, but how about young Auli’i Cravalho ? She hit the audience with a soaring rendition of “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana”. It was fabulous despite her being hit with a flag. And then she ended it with a sweet genuine exhale. Her expression was priceless.

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  • “Suicide Squad” is now an Oscar winner! Can DC now claim victory over Marvel in the superhero movie genre? Not even close.
  • Back to the Kimmel vs Damon bit, when Damon came out with Ben Affleck to present he was announced as “guest”. Any time Damon would try and speak Kimmel had the orchestra play him off. Everything about it worked. Hilarious.
  • Asghar Farhadi wins his second Foreign Language Oscar for “The Salesman”, a film that still hasn’t opened around me. He remains one of my favorite working directors and I love seeing him honored.

Those are just a few random thoughts on what was a really weird night. As usual the Academy had several hits and misses, but still the art took center stage. How about we do it again next year?

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33 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: The 2017 Oscars

  1. great thoughts as always Keith!

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks Moonlight is good, but not great. It really lost steam after the first segment IMHO.

    I just dont get the fanfare for it all. 😦
    Maybe one day someone will explain it to me…..

    • Same here. Great to hear I’m not alone! I’m with you, the first segment was really good but afterwards it lost its momentum for me. It definitely has its fans though.

      • I’m in the same boat. I’ve really tossed it around and read many different defenses of it. None of them satisfy my issues with it. I think it was a film that got a critical push and that clicked a lot of the right buttons.

      • Agree. But so many people think it was amazing bc of the theme of a gay & black character. That doesnt change the fact that it was uninspiring imho

  2. I didn’t watch the entirety of it w/ the exception of a few segments yet that moment for Best Picture. Look, who ever gave Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty the envelope is the one to blame. Warren looked confused when he opened it and Faye just said it and it’s not their fault. It’s the moron who gave them the envelopes. I feel bad for the people for La La Land as their moment was only fleeting. Honesty, just give the Best Picture to both La La Land and Moonlight. That way, everyone is happy except for the 7 other losers.

  3. My favorite bit with Damon other than this absolutely hysterical We Bought a Zoo clip was him saying to Affleck “I know what a guest is”. This whole thing with Casey…yeah I think it’s not fair to go after Gibson for something he did in the past and still award Casey. Of course we don’t know what happened there for sure but other actors don’t have dark rumors looming above them like that. But what was really notable here was Denzel not only looking pissed off but looking pissed off even as he KNEW the camera was on him when Affleck was thanking him. Denzel just doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks.

    I did like that bus tour bit but I felt a bit for the actors they were kinda treated like animals in the zoo there.

    And the big thing – the single greatest thing I’ve seen since Adele Dazeem happened. But I don’t think the producer of LLL showed class – he handled it quite well but the way he yanked that card out of Beatty’s hand was so disrespectful. Beatty is the least to blame here – they got the wrong envelope, he was confused, looked to his co-presenter who mistakenly thought he was goofing around and she barely glanced at the card and announced. And then it was Baetty explaining and trying to put a humorous spin on this with Kimmel’s help.

    • The “We Bought a Zoo” thing was hysterical. Denzel is so great. He really doesn’t give a flip at this point. I loved seeing him though. Every glance we got of him was worthwhile. I noticed Horowitz yanking the card out of Beatty’s hand but I give him a pass on that. So much was happening in that single moment. So much confusion. So much emotion both high and low. I may not have even consciously yanked it. One things for sure, someone won’t be working on the Oscars again!

  4. The production team and PwC are responsible? Maybe, but definitely – the Academy – top people there – the responsible is always the boss – vicarious liability. The Academy itself should bear responsibility as an overseer. They admitted their just trusted PwC for decades and never questioned their standards. Idiots.

    • It is pretty dopey. I say PwC because the botched the envelopes. I say the production team because they ran the show. But you’re right, the Academy looks really dumb. They should be overseers. I know I would have an Academy committee whose sole purpose is to guarantee the announcements are correct.

    • It really did, right??? It just amazes me how long it took them to actually get someone out there and correct the mistake. But in reality I truly doubt it was intentional. I say that because the Academy looks really stupid because of this. Surely they wouldn’t intentionally do something to make themselves look so dopey.

  5. I liked MOONLIGHT more than LA LA LAND… but I couldn’t enjoy the moment due to the screw up. I kept telling my friends “No, this is a joke, right?” Putting that aside, I didn’t really like the show:
    -I barely laughed. In fact, the “Jimmy Kimmel hates Matt Damon” joke got old after a while. The Mean Tweets edition was supposed to be Oscar-themed… but some of the celebrities that read them weren’t even nominated that night!
    -A lot of the technical winners were surprises, but Directing, Screenplay and Acting were the most predicted ones.
    -The bit with the tourists was a little too long, and it’s one of the factors that made the show last 4 hours (it ended here at around 6:30 AM!).
    -I don’t like that John Legend sang the LA LA LAND songs instead of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, nor that he didn’t sing them in their entirety while the other nominated songs were (nice touch of adding a rap by Lin-Manuel Miranda).
    -I liked those moments were a presenter would comment on a classic and then come out with one of the stars of the classic.

    “For some reason many naturally rebel against movies that earn a lot of awards attention.”
    Those movies tend to get the attention before they’re released in theatres so, by the time people see it, their expectations are too high.

    “Speaking of Affleck, notice how he got a standing ovation yet many still treat Mel Gibson as a pariah? Another case of selective forgiveness?”
    Mel didn’t win, so we don’t know if he would’ve gotten a standing ovation too.

    • -It was a horrible screw up that certainly stole the moment from Moonlight. Even though I’m not a big fan of the film I hated seeing those people miss out on the fullness of the moment.
      – I’m with you on the Mean Tweets segment. Could have done without it.
      – Also agree that the tourist thing was too long. I thought it was funny but it ran out of steam. I think they didn’t factor in the human element and the whole thing got away from them (time-wise).
      – Also agree on the stars and their inspirations segment. Very good.

  6. I was enjoying this post so much and then you reminded me that Suicide Squad is now an Oscar-winning movie, UGH!
    I couldn’t stay up till 5am to watch this year but I had a great Monday catching up on the highlights, and what a show I missed!
    I can’t stop watching the clip of Matt Damon being played off stage by the orchestra…it’s funny every time!

  7. I hated the tour bus bit. I had so much 2nd hand embarrassment. lol

    We Bought a Zoo was a hilarious choice for the clip, I loved that.

    “How Far I’ll Go” should’ve won Best Song.

  8. I didn’t see the show, although I was to see Chazelle take an Oscar for Best Director. While La La Land certainly does have glaring flaws, Chazelle’s direction was the film’s greatest strength. Also, Asghar Farhadi’s victory has got me more excited in seeing The Salesman.

    • Think about it, 32 years old and he already has two Best Picture Oscar nominations and one Best Director win. And you and I both love Farhadi. I can’t wait for the film to finally land nearby.

  9. Good post, thanks…however, I thought the Viola Davis acceptance speech was over the top and probably too rehearsed as a performance. Kimmel seemed to agree, quickly nominating her for an acting Emmy.

    • Interesting. I loved it. You’re probably right, I’m sure it was rehearsed. But I really liked what she said. And I didn’t think about it, but Kimmel’s joke could have meant just that.

  10. Overall, I enjoyed the show. Felt bad for both La La Land and Moonlight as what happened wasn’t fair to either of them. They both handled it greatly, though. The Kimmel/Damon feud were my favorite bits, along with the bus tour. I wouldn’t be opposed to JK doing it again next year.

    • You’re right. It was bad for both La La Land and Moonlight. I wasnt crazy about him but I would be okay with JK doing it again IF he would trim down his stuff. He ran that thing almost 4 hours!

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