Academy Awards 2017 (Oh, What a Night)

Look, I did not do very well on my predictions. I expected La La Land to emerge a juggernaut, and it certainly was not, even if it ended up taking home the most awards of the night with six. Quite frankly, none of the awards mattered last night except one: Best Picture. By now, we all know the major fiasco of initially rewarding La La Land with the honor when the actual winner was revealed to be Moonlight. It was a stunning piece of live television that I will not soon forget.

I am very happy Moonlight took home the award. For one, I don’t have to see Film Twitter endlessly complain about how La La Land is the worst movie of all time. That is a relief. Secondly, I love a good surprise, even if my predictions suffer for it. La La Land has been such a powerhouse this awards season, and after winning Best Actress (Emma Stone) and Best Director (Damien Chazelle), the Best Picture win felt like a foregone conclusion. Guess again! Thirdly, Moonlight is the better film, and the historic precedent being set of an all-black cast film winning Best Picture, not to mention the first gay film to win, is terrific. Does the fact those who win the Oscar for Best Picture for Moonlight are three white people? A little, but it’s a great step forward in inclusion.

The rest of the ceremony was hit-and-miss with host Jimmy Kimmel. He played it fairly soft when it came to politics, as did most people, which was a disappointment. The bit with the people from the tour bus was cringe-inducing, and not in a fun, The Office way. What never failed to make me laugh was the continuation of his ongoing faux feud of Kimmel with Matt Damon, crescendoing to the orchestra trying to play him off the stage as he was presenting an award. The joke perfectly built as the night went on, which is something I did not think I would say about an ongoing joke at an awards show (they are usually terrible).

The speeches this year were not particularly memorable, though I am not one to gravitate to them anyway. If you aren’t going to get more creative than listing names, I think you should just skip your speech all together. Just lean in to the mic and say, “Thanks. This is cool,” and walk off. If there had to be a standout, it would probably be Viola Davis, as per usual. She’s perfected the earnest, honest speech. It helped that it was directly after a wonderful category introduction from last year’s Best Supporting Actor winner Mark Rylance, another thing I don’t usually notice (unless it’s funny).

All in all, the four hour show for the majority of the time was fairly middle of the road Oscars. The final ten minutes will live on in infamy, and though the Moonlight crew may feel like they didn’t get to be swept up like all other past winners, they have a totally unique winning story that they will never forget. And for a film as special and unique as Moonlight, how else could they have possibly won that award?

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