As anyone who watched the 90th Academy Awards this past Sunday can tell you, I take awards shows way too seriously. For me, the Oscars is like watching my favorite team in the World Series 24 times, and every other nominee is the Yankees. This is what was going through my head for some of last night’s biggest awards:
Absolutely No Disappointment – Jordan Peele winning Best Original Screenplay, Roger Deakins winning Best Cinematography, all the acting Oscars except Best Actor and most of the craft awards
The Oscars were a pretty straightforward affair this year, with most of the craft awards going to tech-heavy movies like “Dunkirk” and “Blade Runner 2049”, the acting awards going to the deserving frontrunners (thank god for Frances McDormand), and, for the most part, a lack of surprises. However, two major wins came as a bit of a shock, for their own respective reasons. First was Jordan Peele’s big writing win, topping the expected win of Martin McDonagh, cementing Get Out’s place in the cultural pantheon for good. Next was Roger Deakins’ enormous win for Best Cinematography. Deakins was in the front of the pack for most of this race, but given the fact that he’s been nominated 13 times (even twice in one year) and lost every single time until now, it makes sense that this was a very welcome surprise.
I’ll Take It – Guillermo del Toro winning Best Director
Guillermo del Toro is a phenomenal director, using his incredible imagination and meticulous skill as a filmmaker to make unique worlds and monsters for his audience. I’m especially happy that he can finally share this superlative with his good friends Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón (who have swept this award for four of the last five years). That being said, I really feel that this award should’ve gone to Christopher Nolan for the absolute visual and aural insanity of “Dunkirk.” The guy managed three equally incredible feats for this film — bringing out actual WWII-era planes and ships for his movie, shooting the whole thing in 70mm film and making a epic war film under two hours long.
True Ambivalence – “The Shape of Water” winning Best Picture
Again, Guillermo is a hard working guy and a wonderful storyteller, Sally Hawkins and this fish-dude steal the show, and this movie is pretty amazing technically speaking. It’s definitely one of the most out-there Best Picture winners ever, adding needed diversity to the homogenous crop of drama films. That being said, I have a feeling that we’re going to come back to this group of nominees in future years and wonder what stopped “Call Me by Your Name” or “Get Out” from taking home the cake. At that time, we’ll sigh collectively before someone reminds us: At least it wasn’t “Three Billboards.”
Kinda Frustrating – Alexandre Desplat winning Best Original Score
Alright, if this seems like a niche annoyance, stop reading this article right now, go find Jonny Greenwood’s score for “Phantom Thread” on Spotify and listen to any of the songs — particularly “House of Woodcock,” “Alma” or “The Hem.” You’ll come back as pissed off as me that this man has only been nominated for a single Oscar over his exemplary career, and that he lost to Alexandre Desplat for “The Shape of Water.”
Entirely Hypocritical – Gary Oldman winning Best Actor
Regardless of the quality of Oldman’s performance as Churchill, this was the wrong choice. Given Oldman’s background of domestic abuse, this win served as a major step backwards for the progress of the ‘Times Up’ and #MeToo movements, and shows the complacency that continues to rest in the minds — or at least the ballots — of the male-majority Academy. This is particularly inexcusable when there are such solid alternatives in this list — Timotheé Chalamet winning for his heartbreaking break-out in “Call Me By Your Name,” Daniel Kaluuya and his mesmerizing performance in “Get Out” or even the perfect send-off for recently re-retired Daniel Day-Lewis.
Absolute Bullshit – “Coco” winning Best Original Song
We may never have another opportunity to say “Oscar-winning musician Sufjan Stevens” again. How dare you, AMPAS? Choosing to enable Disney/Pixar’s iron vise grip on this category (with their 16th all time win) rather than giving the new guy a shot — or even giving the most moving musical moment of 2017, “Visions of Gideon” a shot to compete? I was praying that John Williams would pull a Kanye, storm on stage, and say what we were all thinking: Sufjan had one of the best nominated songs of all time.
Tragedy to Mankind – “The Boss Baby” losing Best Animated Feature
This is the children’s movie equivalent of “Crash” beating “Brokeback Mountain.”