Y’all know the usual excuses on why I’m late on this so I won’t bother. But I gotta give some attitude and response to the ceremony and the wins, so first thing…
There is no way I am going to count how predictions I got right. Shit was pretty low, like in the early teens given how easily everything went against expectations in a most logical way (I am very very miffed that I just gave in to peer pressure when submitting my prediction for Best Actor most of all). We’ll just recognize that I did not get most things right, especially the Best Picture winner given that great big plot twist ’round the end with the gaffe. I did get 3/4 Acting Categories right on (I weep for Huppert’s lack of an Oscar), both screenwriting, and Chazelle’s directorial win. It’s just a damn shame that Jenkins and company didn’t really have enough time to savor their win and present their speeches (especially given La La Land‘s producers all gave speeches before they revealed the win). And while Jordan Horowitz was 100% gracious as opposed to the producer who finished his speech right before adding a “we lost, by the way” to the end and yes his actions are worthy of laudability (especially in this day and age), I hope it doesn’t get used to overshadow Moonlight‘s accomplishment and what it represents.
What Moonlight represents is why I’m pretty glad it won Best Picture, even if my vote was on La La Land and Manchester by the Sea before Moonlight. Even if my favorite film won Best Picture, the Oscars would never have been any objective qualitative measure for film and it’s always been more about exposure (which is part of why #OscarsSoWhite was a thing, though not as much that Creed and The Hateful Eight were snubbed for some very worthy nominations over… Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl?). I don’t want to just fix everything down to “political messages” because that implies that Moonlight isn’t already a great film in its own right, but I don’t have a problem with political messages when I… frankly agree with them (petty on me, but I’ll call you when I care). Moonlight is a 1.5 million dollar budgeted movie made by two young black men inspired by their early life, based on school assignment by one of them that he didn’t even finish, portraying issues with masculinity and identity involved in the life of a black gay man shot in Liberty City in Miami. This is not the sort of movie you’d expect the Academy to be even willing to touch until the hype became so powerful they heard it out and nominated it. And that’s as far as the dream went for most people (myself included) until suddenly Moonlight won. This is only a stepping stone, rather than the endgame, to have more LGBT and black cinema recognized in Hollywood, but what a stepping stone. To say nothing of what it promises for aspiring young filmmakers (who also happen to be from Miami, hello there!). Don’t let that sort of accomplishment be stifled down by anything – the gaffe, the next win, the “politics”, whatever – Moonlight deserved the win and its win is a landmark.
Besides which, we don’t need another movie about movies winning in the same decade as The Artist and Argo.
This is likewise why – while I think Toni Erdmann is obviously the better film (y’know given that it was my number one movie of the year) – The Salesman‘s win and Farhadi’s subsequent message to the Academy and America was an essential necessity that I’m glad to have witnessed on TV. It was my favorite moment in a ceremony that I kind of enjoyed.
Ay, I enjoyed the Oscars and Jimmy Kimmel’s job hosting. Even the more problematic spots like his Moonlight happy endings joke or implying that “there should be two winners” during the gaffes came from a eager sense of trying to make everybody in the room happy. That didn’t stop him from dishing out receipts against Mel Gibson very early on the performance and somehow Gibson was a good sport (though he probably would have dug his own grave reacting any other way). Certainly his ever-going feud with Matt Damon didn’t get old to me, especially during the presentation of Best Original Screenplay (given by Damon to his own production Manchester by the Sea and good friend Kenneth Lonergan) where Kimmel goes and plays Damon right out of the ceremony. Or even right before “Presenting the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Ben Affleck and guest.”
It was a lot more relaxed than I was expecting out of a ceremony that was coming on the tail end of a horrible political climate and somehow got out clean despite having Gibson (and his crazy faces to his Oscar-winning editor – “Wait we had an editor?!” probably went through his mind) in the room. To say nothing of the absolute lowest point of the Oscars… having Brie Larson hand Casey Affleck the Best Actor Oscar is completely tasteless. Larson’s status as a feminist and having just won her own Oscar for a performance of a sexual assault victim having to hand an award to a man with the accusations Affleck did should say it all. And the outright silence about Affleck was expected but disheartening. But still, I’m not going to pretend Affleck didn’t give my favorite performance on the slate (sorry, Denzel… any other year, you replaying Troy Maxson would have been the best – at least Davis got her damn due as Rose) and while there’s the obvious answer that Larson could have declined, the action of having the previous Best Actress winner present the Best Actor award has been a tradition of the Oscars for a long while. If she had backed-out, in the environment we’re in, people would start spraying vitriol against her for “virtue-signalling” and being “ungracious” and generally being the fucking worst. In any case, Washington was the favorite by a sliver to win and I’m sure this was expected by Larson but not anticipated. It’s a messy thing that I don’t think has a clear answer, but it doesn’t erase that bad taste out of my mouth by any means.
I don’t think there’s anything else that I have a real reaction to besides the fact that Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress), Piper (Best Short Film – Animated) and The Jungle Book (Best Visual Effects) were all the most deserving wins of the year by far and that it’s a shame this was the lowest viewed ceremony in a long while because I also think it was the best in a long time. Incredibly loose (especially when they brought over the tourists and “Gary from Chicago” stole the show in a way you couldn’t possibly script) thanks to Kimmel and all, definitely as evidenced by the congratulatory attitudes of the Moonlight and La La Land cast and crew despite their fan camps trying to turn them against each other (and still… there’s no way La La Land is racist rants won’t keep going and going). We could only hope more awards shows have their frontrunners giving as little a shit about their awards potential as these guys, the reward of which being both Jenkins and Chazelle’s classy fashions are displayed for all the world and both are young filmmakers with practically carte blanche for whatever they want to do next. From the ashes of 2016…