Tuesday, February 28, 2017

THE 89TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS


Let's face it, the only thing the 2017 Oscars will probably really be remembered for is the shocking and inexplicable announcement by presenters, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway that "La La Land" had won Best Picture when "Moonlight" had actually won that prize. After the mix-up had been corrected, far too long after the cast and crew of Daniel Chazelle's musical, with Oscars in hand, were up on stage giving their thanks, Mr. Beatty explained what happened which was somehow he was given the wrong envelope. Now I thought safeguards were in place to prevent that from happening but I guess nothing is perfect, even the Oscars.

Despite this unfortunate snafu, the show was a thoroughly entertaining affair (even though it came in incredibly at almost four hours long) and that was in large part due to first-time Oscar producers, Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd and host Jimmy Kimmel. It's clear the producing team has a great respect for the long history of the Academy Awards by featuring a video montage of previous Oscar-winners that was shown before the acting categories were announced and having actors speak of their fond appreciation for a star they admired in their youth, which lead to teams of presenters like Charlize Theron and Shirley MacLaine and Seth Rogan and Michael J. Fox. But they were also very aware that there is still a need to appeal to a 21st Century audience which seems to require fast-paced, attention-grabbing spectacle. They wasted no time shaking up the routine but having Justin Timberlake kick off the show with a rousing performance of his Oscar-nominated song, "Can't Stop The Feeling" that got the star-studded crowd singing and dancing along.

While lacking some of the mean-spiritness and snark that a few previous hosts have brought to the program, Kimmel dryly delivered his signature hard-edged but good-natured wit that was a good fit, especially in these tense, politically charged times. Much like what James Cordon did with his first time hosting gig for the Grammys, Kimmel brought with him the best elements from his late-night talk show. So we got an Oscars edition of "Mean Tweets", funny bits involving his long-running "feud" with Matt Damon and a hilarious prank involving passengers on a Hollywood tour bus that are dropped off in the middle of the televised show.

Even though it ultimately didn't take the top prize, "La La Land" did not do too badly as it still walked away with the most Oscars with six including Best Director and Best Actress for Emma Stone. The rest of the awards were spread around the other Best Picture nominees with only three very deserving films, "Hidden Figures", "Hell or High Water" and "Lion" leaving empty-handed.

After being left out of the running for the last two years, African-Americans had a better showing this time at the Oscars with "Moonlight" pulling a serious upset to win a very deserving Best Picture prize as well as awards for Mahershala Ali and director Barry Jenkins for his co-writing of the screenplay with playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney. Ezra Edelman shared the Best Documentary Feature award for "O.J.: Made In America" and Viola Davis finally got that Oscar for her moving performance in "Fences" which had won her a Tony in the same role. While Lin-Manuel Miranda failed to complete an EGOT this time, Ms Davis is now one step closer and considering her passionate acceptance speech, I'm sure a Grammy is certainly in her future with an audio-book.

Politics was on the mind of many at the ceremony and it was expressed in many different ways. Mr Kimmel poked fun at the President and his controversial policies and even live-tweeted him during the show. While others took a more serious view like presenter, Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal who spoke out against the idea of a wall along the Mexican border and the winner for Best Foreign-Language Film, Asghar Farhadi, who protested the proposed travel ban by not attending the awards, had a statement read by Anousheh Ansari. an American-Iranian, supporting immigrants who have been disrespected by this administration.

Overall, this was an Oscars show for the ages. A glitzy, over-the-top celebration of cinema that still managed to deliver a strong artistic and political message on how film continues to try bringing people together from around this increasingly polarized world by telling each other their stories with the hope for unity and understanding.

 Here is the complete list of winners from the 89th Annual Academy Awards:

Best Picture: “Moonlight”
Best Director: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”
Best Original Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, “Moonlight”
Best Actor: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Best Actress: Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, “Fences”
Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, “La La Land”
Best Film Editing: John Gilbert, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Best Production Design: David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, “La La Land”
Best Foreign Language Film: “The Salesman” (Iran)
Best Animated Feature Film: “Zootopia”
Best Documentary Feature: “O.J.: Made in America”
Best Original Song: “City of Stars” from “La La Land”, Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Best Original Score: Justin Hurwitz, “La La Land”
Best Sound Editing: Sylvain Bellemare, “Arrival”
Best Sound Mixing: Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Best Costume Design: Colleen Atwood, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
Best Live Action Short Film: “Sing”
Best Animated Short Film: “Piper”
Best Documentary Short Subject: “The White Helmets”
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson, “Suicide Squad”
Best Visual Effects: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon, “The Jungle Book”