Monday, February 27, 2017

Oscar Night: The Morning After

It was well after 1am went I went to sleep last night, and therefore I chose to wait to post my reactions to the show until now. I started watching the show on DVR at around 9:15pm, and as a result I wasn’t posting live on social media or even holding on my phone so as not to have anything spoiled.

It turns out that recording this show wasn’t a great idea. The main reason for that is that we only extended the recording by thirty minutes, and the biggest moment of the show happened about thirty-three minutes after it was scheduled to end. While everyone who was watching live was scrambling to figure out what was going on with the Best Picture announcement, I was trying desperately to find a clip of it online to figure out who had actually won. There’s nothing like this that’s happened before at the Oscars, and it was an interesting ending to the night that would have been much more meaningful and impactful had it not gone down the way it did.

I woke up to an e-mail sent to the Academy press list with an apology for what happened. It doesn’t matter why it happened, but there’s something, especially when the Best Picture winner isn’t guaranteed, about hearing your film’s name called at the end of the night and celebrating the rush of the awards experience. Multiple winners made mention of the fact that they’ve gotten to know other nominees and films throughout awards season, and, more than ever before, we’ve come to a point of competition where a whole bunch of people are rooting for one film to overtake another. I was rooting for the film that was dominating throughout all of awards season this year, whereas last year I was hoping that the original frontrunner, which wasn’t doing so well by that point, would pull through, which it did.

I still stand by the fact that “Manchester by the Sea” was the best movie of 2016 and intend to honor it when I begin my AFT Awards very soon. I’m very happy that it won Best Original Screenplay, with Matt Damon excitedly announcing Kenneth Lonergan’s name followed by a sweet speech from the director-writer. And it’s great that Casey Affleck won Best Actor despite a last-minute surge from Denzel Washington at SAG, since it truly was an incredible performance. As anyone I’ve spoken to recently knows, I was a big fan of “La La Land,” and I was pulling for it to win Best Picture since I thought that was more realistic than Lonergan’s film or “Hell or High Water,” which didn’t take home any of its four bids.

I did like “Moonlight” a lot and I think that its win is far more impactful, save for the fact that it’s tarnished by it not being originally announced. The end-of-night Best Picture announcement is supposed to signal that the film made it, after so long, and that it was crowned the best of the year. It was sweet of Jordan Horowitz to say that he was going to be proud to the hand the award to his friends from “Moonlight.” It’s an independent film with an all-black cast that deals with gender and sexual identity in a mesmerizing way, and the fact that it won Best Picture is really cool. Like last year, the film that won the most awards didn’t clinch Best Picture. It just could have been so simple and elegant, and the fact that Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope was a real shame, and there’s nothing that can be done to repair it.

“La La Land” ended up with six wins instead of the eleven I predicted, and “Moonlight” scored three. The love was spread pretty well, though I would have preferred that “Arrival” take the awards that “Hacksaw Ridge” won. I was particularly happy about “The White Helmets” winning Best Documentary Short, and the other two short winners were good choices too, which I haven’t always felt in the time since I started watching all of them. Though I wouldn’t have selected “The Salesman” to triumph for Best Foreign Film, I still think that it was better than “Toni Erdmann” and is a more meaningful representation of international cinema for this year.

Speaking of the poignancy of the awards, Jimmy Kimmel did a great job making many funny jokes about Donald Trump without making it feel like he was beating a dead horse. Dropping candy from the ceiling on multiple occasions was silly but fun, and having a tour bus come in and meet some of the biggest stars in Hollywood was fun too. Starting with Justin Timberlake performing his nominated song was a great way to open the night, and I think the structuring of the evening, even though it went long, was very solid.

As usual, Oscar night wasn’t my favorite part of Oscar season but it was quite an experience and will be talked about for a while. I scored 14/24, which isn’t all that bad but not too great either.

I’m much more excited to begin my own honors, the AFT Awards, which I look forward to getting underway very soon. Stick around for my choices for the best of the year!

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