The Gaffe Heard Round the World
Well, as usual, the Oscars just concluded and I'm tired. But I wouldn't have it any other way writing this post. I love doing it in my current loopy and slightly depressed post-Oscar state. (Depressed because writing this post is like closure on the year for me, and I feel like I've come to the end of a long journey reviewing film for 2016. Not depressed because of who won or who didn't win because at the end of the day.....who cares, really.) Anyway, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way right off the bat: the moment everyone will remember for 2017's Oscars is when La La Land's name was erroneously called for Best Picture. I'm sure we'll hear plenty more about that as time goes on, so I will just address how much I appreciated the class of the La La Land crew for not only being willing to hand over their awards to Moonlight, but they were actually eager to. It felt like the moment Adele beat out Queen Bey at the Grammys a few weeks back. They showed no negativity to getting on the stage just to realize they were on there by mistake, and the look on Barry Jenkins face when he realized that his film actually won the award made me a little emotional. I love Barry Jenkins, and while you all know what took home my Best Film of 2016, I have no problem with the Academy handing their award to Moonlight. Any other year I would've been right there with them, and I know years down the road Moonlight will be the film that everyone remembers, so I'm totally content with that choice. To be fair, I've only agreed with the Academy's choice once over the past ten years, so there's that. And we ALL know between Enter the Movies and the Academy Awards which award is more coveted. Uhhhhhhhh Enter the Movies. Obviously.
Anyway, where I disagree with the Academy, however, is in some of the more technical categories. The fact that Suicide Squad can now say "Academy Award Winner Suicide Squad" is pretty hilarious. Also Hacksaw Ridge for Best Film Editing? Really? La La Land and Moonlight must've split that vote, but you thought Hacksaw Ridge was number three on that list? Over Arrival and Hell or High Water? C'mon man. The biggest controversy for me, though, is in the Best Actor category. Anyone who read my Biggest Controversies of 2016 list will know why, but for those who didn't.....Casey Affleck winning Best Actor shows us that, for all the progress we've made for diversity in Hollywood, there's still a long way to go. Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation was shunned by the Academy when allegations of rape surfaced against him, and yet when similar allegations rose against Affleck.....he wins Best Actor. Now please, tell me that those allegations don't go ignored by the Academy if Casey Affleck was black. Go on. I'll wait.
I know we should take the wins where we can get them. After all Denzel Washington is the white man's black person, so it isn't like there was some super glamorous replacement in the running for Best Actor. (Makes me wonder if the story would've been different had Dev Patel been in that category where he should have been instead of Best Supporting Actor) And I'd say the defeat of La La Land at the hands of Moonlight is a pretty terrific feat and ABSOLUTELY a result of the diversification of the Academy, so I'm very excited to see where this diversification leads us next year. And there were some terrific feel-good wins in the lesser categories, including The Salesman winning Best Foreign film and The White Helmets winning Documentary Short. Both films were directly impacted by the orange menace's travel ban, with director Asghar Farhadi from The Salesman boycotting the Oscars because of it and the cinematographer for The White Helmets, Khaled Khatib, actually being denied entry to the United States by, well, the United States.That second one in particular was an unscripted moment for the Academy-while Farhadi made his boycott of the Oscars known far in advance during the voting period, so voting for The Salesman was an easy protest vote to Twump by the group, Khatib's issues came just a day before the event itself, long after the votes were cast. Also touching was Mahershala Ali becoming the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, and Viola Davis becoming the first African American actor to hit the acting trifecta-acting wins from the Tonys, Emmys, and Oscars.
Anyway, speaking of unscripted moments, let's talk about Jimmy Kimmel! The host of this year's Oscars was.....fine. On the one hand, he had a few good gags. His ongoing beef with Matt Damon continued to be hilarious, highlighted by my favorite moment of the entire night-playing Matt Damon off the stage as he was presenting an award. He also took a few good jabs at Donald Trump, and threw in bits from his late night show, like a "Mean Tweets: Oscars Edition" bit. In other words, he, like James Corden at the Grammys, was up there just to plug his own late night show, he just did it a bit more subtly than Corden did. He also had a few misses. His "food raining down from the sky" bits were humorous, but not particularly memorable. But his totally not staged gag with the tour bus? C'mon, man. That was easily the weakest moment of the night, as everyone knew that those people would've had to have been screened EXTENSIVELY before they strolled into the Dolby Theater. That moment was right there with Neil Patrick Harris's bit about "successfully" predicting the Oscar picks when he hosted. Chances are those "random people" were just members of the seat filler corps that make the house look full every year. Or they were people that had been sitting out in the crowd on the Red Carpet beforehand. All that is my way of saying.....Jimmy Kimmel was fine, but LAWD next year can we PLEASE not have a late night talk show personality host the Oscars? Please?
As for everything else, it was....fine. The Moana performance was the lowlight of the musical performances for me, (that Lin-Manuel intro felt very tacked on) but overall outside of Justin Timberlake all of the performances weren't particularly memorable. I already can't remember Sting's song, and La La Land's montage would've been significantly better had Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling joined John Legend at one point during it. Also the speeches were shockingly contained. This may be the biggest surprise of this year's Oscars. While it was a pretty good night for liberals outside of Casey Affleck's win, there was no Meryl Streep or David K. Harbour (Stranger Things) kind of moment. I really thought that someone was going to provide that soundbite that everyone would play for weeks and months to come, but the most "soundbite" political moment came when Jimmy Kimmel Tweeted at Donald Trump during the broadcast. The speech of the hour, in my opinion, belonged to Viola Davis, who delivered an emotional speech as she accepted her first Academy Award. Emma Stone was a close second, but that may only be because I am partial to Emma Stone. I was hoping for a better speech from Damien Chazelle (if the speeches from those who did win in technical categories for La La Land told me anything, it's that that crew REVERES Chazelle) but hey. Dude is still the youngest director to ever win an Oscar so that's pretty cool.
What else? I can't think of anything, so that's it! That's all I got. At the end of the day.....I think I liked 2016's Academy Awards more than this year's. While the picks for winners showed that the Academy is starting to step outside its comfort zone, I was still pretty infuriated by some of the choices, most notably Casey Affleck for Best Actor. And, while there were quite a few great moments, (I just glanced over it but that opening with Justin Timberlake was pretty awesome) there seemed to always be a frustrating moment to go along with it. That freaking tourist gag. Really? "Hey, we just parked this bus right outside and no one noticed the Red Carpet or anything!" But it was still an overall good night for the Academy. Even though it will be highlighted by the gaffe to end all gaffes, their pick of Moonlight for Best Picture is a pretty telling sign that the persona that the Academy is just a bunch of rich old white dudes may finally be coming to an end. No doubt their diversification efforts are paying off.
My Number: 7/10 Good
Well, that's it. That wraps up Enter the Movies coverage of 2016 for film. Overall? I'd say we had a good run, 2016. The year was certainly not as good as 2015 was, but we did see a couple of strong films come out of this year. Films like Arrival, Moonlight, and La La Land are why I love doing this, and walking into that theater giddy with high expectations then having those expectations met or even exceeded? That feeling will never get old. While the same post-Oscar depression is already sinking in as I slowly realize another year is done, I can't help but be uplifted by what 2017 has in store. With new films coming from the likes of Edgar Wright and Paul Thomas Anderson on the horizon, I can't help but be excited for what's in store. But all of that is for tomorrow. As for now....it's very, VERY late over here, and my pillow is desperately calling for me. I think it's time for me to answer the call. Thanks so much for reading, everyone! I love all of you, and I'll see you next time here on Enter the Movies. DEUCES!
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