And launched a thousand memes.
The strangest thing about the evening aside from all that was how Kimmel won us over, and then, slowly but surely, lost us again. No sooner had he built up all that opening-monologue goodwill than he lost it, deteriorating into exactly the kind of late-night comedy bits that don’t work on this big of a canvas, and never have. (Ask Letterman). He brought over his “Mean Tweets” segment from Jimmy Kimmel Live, as well as his long-running feud with Matt Damon (though that did yield a few laughs). He did a laboriously prepared bit with a bus full of tourists wandering into the auditorium, forgetting that when you write a zany late-night TV bit, you should write an ending. (It went on and on, and by the end, I was half-expecting Godot to show up.) Also, it included an improvised “foreign names are funny” gag, which leads us to one of Kimmel’s other blunders, an audience interview segment with little Sunny Pawar, the young Saroo of Lion, which led to a wacky bit of business about The Lion King. As writer Manuel Betancourt put it, “Jesus Christ, Jimmy Kimmel, can you not use a little brown kid as a prop for an Disneyfied African-themed punchline?”
The bonkers ending becoming the story
The Best Picture switcheroo was, yes, insane. But there’s also a human dimension to this story – for the Moonlight people who didn’t get that moment you dream of when the envelope is opened and your movie is announced and you take that celebratory trip up to the stage, and the La La Land people who got that moment and then lost it. But more than that, we’re not coming away from the night talking about an amazing thing that happened at the end of the Oscars: not only did the Best Picture award go to the year’s actual best picture (a rarity, to put it mildly), but it went to a tiny-budgeted independent film with no stars from an upstart studio. And, even more importantly, it went to a movie about a young gay black man – the first LGBTQ story and the first film with an all-black cast to win that prize. To borrow Joe Biden’s phrasing, Moonlight winning Best Picture is a big fucking deal, but, at least in the near future, it’ll be remembered in the shadow of The Other Thing.
Asghar Farhadi’s absence
We knew he wasn’t gonna be there to receive his Oscar, both earned and expected, for Best Foreign Film for The Salesman. But it was still heartbreaking when he wasn’t there to accept it. “Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear – a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” he wrote, in a statement read by engineer and entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian in space. “These laws prevent democracy in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others – an empathy which we need today more than ever.”
The damn montages
Once again this year, the ceremony’s producers indulged us in too damn many “Movies: Pretty cool, huh?” montages, as if this isn’t the one viewing audience that needs to be convinced that Movies Are Good. This year’s ceremony included a series of short montages of movie stars proclaiming their favorite movie, so that they could then give out an award with the star of said movie, which meant we got Charlize Theron praising Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment (duh), Javier Bardem singing the praises of The Bridges of Madison County (huh?) and Seth Rogen gushing over Back to the Future (oh goody, a stoner explaining a time-travel movie). Meanwhile, there wasn’t enough time in the show to give awards and hear speeches from legendary editor Anne V. Coates, legendary casting director Lynn Stalmaster, legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman, and legendary actor/director Jackie Chan; as is the current custom, those awards were handed out last fall, at a separate JV ceremony, so they’d have time during the big show for all the masturbatory montages. (Though, credit where due, Kimmel’s We Bought a Zoo payoff was pretty good.)
Nicole Kidman clapping
I mean, seriously, what’s happening here?
Mel Gibson being a “good sport”
Everyone’s favorite “get raped by a pack of niggers”-shouting anti-Semite was back in the embrace of a warm Hollywood community last night, thanks to Hacksaw Ridge’s six nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. And Kimmel lobbed a few softballs at him over the course of the evening, which were always followed by a nice reaction cutaway of Gibson, laughing it up and being a good sport. But each time, he seemed increasingly unhinged, his laughter and the matching, barely-hidden fury in his eyes reminiscent of a serial killer about to snap. The whole thing was pretty gross, and not the best look for an industry that’s trying to stand up to a guy who says disgusting things on leaked audiotapes.
Sincerely, if you used our predictions as any kind of basis for your own, good God, my apologies. We usually do pretty well, missing a couple but hitting most; this year, we went a miserable 15 correct and 9 wrong, thanks to the aforementioned La La Land upset (and the general lack of a La La sweep), a bad call on the Affleck/Washington toss-up, and couple of other big surprises (including, ugh, Suicide Squad is now an Oscar winner). All I can tell you is we’re sorry, but Jesus, this was a nutty year. I mean, you saw that ending, right?