90th Academy Awards

Good evening all, whilst part 4 of my Spielberg through the ages blog is currently being produced I thought I would just put some of my thoughts together on last nights Oscars’ the Academy’s 90th annual back-slapathon. It is a date in the diary that I always look forward to, the announced nominees, the mad scramble to get at least all the Best Picture nominees watched (I managed all 9 this year), the booking of leave so that I can record and watch the show the following morning without suffering any spoilers, and the hope that the kids School boilers don’t break this year (that happened 2 years ago).

This years Best Picture nominees were a mix of what I would normally consider “my sort of thing”, (Dunkirk, The Post, Three Billboards) and films that would be more a curiosity (Call Me By Your Name, Ladybird etc). Unlike some years I actually found that I could take at least something from each of the 9 so I was looking forward to the ceremony with an open mind without really having a clear allegiance to any one film. I obviously would have liked The Post to have been recognised further but it became clear early in the campaign that it would have to be satisfied with its nominations.

So onto the event itself, it was a night of few shocks as the clear bookie favourites in the acting categories were triumphant, and to be honest it would be very difficult to argue against any of them, although Margot Robbie and Laurie Metcalf in Best Actress and Supporting Actress respectively would surely have won in any other year. Likewise both the magnetic Daniel Kaluuya and the elf like Timothee Chalamet have huge futures ahead of them.

Guillermo Del Toro’s director nod was richly deserved. I would have loved to have seen Nolan recognised and I hope he doesn’t end up getting a sympathy Oscar in 30 years time to make up for past mistakes a la Scorsese and the Departed. Elsewhere Roger Deakins finally rewarded for an astonishing career, winning Best Cinematographer at the twelfth time of asking for his work on Blade Runner 2049 ( a film that I shamefully have yet to see) but if Deakins’ work here matches up to his previous nominations then I have no doubt it will be more than warranted. Special mention also to Best Live Action Short Film “The Silent Child” written and directed by former Hollyoaks (British teen soap) actors Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton showing that there is life after soap opera.

Away from the awards, I’ve always enjoyed the more quirky sides of the ceremony and this year had more than enough to keep me entertained. Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue, although politically charged as not as sharp as last years, still had its moments, his gag that Timothee Chalamat was missing Paw Patrol to attend the ceremony was spot on as was his advice to all announced winners to take their time to get to the stage to allow the organisers to “double check”. Kimmel is an excellent host, displaying enough here to suggest he could be host for a number of years yet. It didn’t all hit the mark, his ongoing jet ski gag got boring and his trip across the road to interrupt a public screening of the upcoming Disney film A Wrinkle in Time, where Oscar stars such as Gal Gadot and Mark Hamill delivered treats and hotdogs to the unsuspecting punters went on a bit long but overall he kept the tempo and humour just right.

Obviously the main topic of conversation leading up to the ceremony was the #MeToo movement and the ceremony fully embraced this with a diverse line up of presenters mixing up and coming stars, Margot Robbie, with more established legends of the screens such as the irrepressible Jodie Foster. Of course we all love a presenter that can make us laugh and this year was no exception. Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani made an impression presenting production design but stealing the show was Maya Rudolph and Tiffany Haddish presenting the Documentary awards. It was also fantastic to see Rita Moreno and Eva Marie Saint practically illuminating up the stage. Frances McDormand majestic speech where she asked every female nominee in the room to stand with her in unity was an undoubted highlight and one of those Oscar moments that will be played over and over at future ceremonies, and rightly so.

Ultimately the only non-cut and dried award of the evening appeared to be Best Picture, with 4 or 5 of the nominees in with a genuine chance of being the victor. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were back to make up for last years La La Land/Moonlight fiasco. This time they read out only one name and crowned The Shape of Water as the 2018 Best Picture winner.

As this was the 90th ceremony there was a very nostalgic feel to a number of the montages that the organisers had arranged, one in particular that was around thanking the audience for paying and watching movies for the past 90 years was particularly well pitched, I confess to shedding a tear at the brilliance and beauty of the clip as it brought home why I love the immersive world of the cinema and all the magnificent joy and wonder that it brings. There are those who knock the Academy Awards as irrelevant, an unnecessary congratulate between multi-millionaires that in economic hard times is at best out of touch and at worst serious bad taste, but in a World where children need to know that dreams can be realised regardless of background and opportunity. More importantly it is a celebration of something that we all love……the world of Cinema. Here’s to next year.