Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Oscars 2018 Recap

The 90th Oscars are behind us, and Mike and I are here to give you our thoughts....

Justin: So Mike, how 'bout them Oscars?  The big categories were all predictable in a good way; for the most part everything that won deserved to.  Best Picture was of course a coin flip between the two front runners.  I'd be lying if I said I'm super excited The Shape of Water won; it was very good but probably my least favorite of this year's crop (that I've seen).  On the other hand it is the first fantasy film to win Best Picture since Return of the King, and only the second ever.  The Academy really needs to nominate more sci-fi/fantasy films.  Also of note is that Shape was the first film since The Artist to win both Best Pic and Best Director.  When I was younger those two categories seemed to rarely split, but in recent years it's been the norm.

Kimmel was a very likable, entertaining host like last year.  His comedy was understated but included some great one-liners and jabs.  They didn't beat us over the head with the political material but it was definitely there, and they kept an air of positivity even when discussing heavy topics.

The winner I'm most excited about is of course Gary Oldman, who after 25 years of incredible performances is finally an Oscar winner.  I'm curious what he's like in real life; his red carpet interview and acceptance speech gave off an air of gentlemanly humility.  He seems such a likable chap.

I was very glad to see Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell take home their well-deserved statues.  Their Three Billboards performances were both incredible and formed a wonderful counterpoint to each other.

Allison Janney's win was also great to see.  I've been a big fan of hers since Drop Dead Gorgeous ("No, she's just screamin' 'Mom, Mom!' 'cause she's got Tourette's, she's Annette's kid, dipshit.") and she's impressed me in everything she's done since.  Her turn as Tonya Harding's abusive, domineering mother was brutally honest.

I was also happy to see Blade Runner win a couple awards (though as I said, Apes should've won Best Visual Effects); that film was criminally underappreciated at the box office, much like its predecessor.  Roger Deakins absolutely deserved the statue, as BR2049 is a breathtaking-looking film.  Perhaps in thirty years we'll all be talking about what a genre classic it was, in anticipation of Blade Runner 2079....

Overall another enjoyable ceremony with some good laughs, a few touching moments, and winners I mostly agreed with.

Oh, and how in god's name do you invite Eddie Vedder to sing during the In Memoriam video but not have him perform a Chris Cornell song???

Your take?

Mike: Overall, I thought it was a good ceremony. Kimmel did a good job, he played it safe and didn't take huge risks which is fine and what you want if you're the Academy. I'm getting kind of tired of the whole "let's go see regular people and how they react to seeing movie stars" bit. It's just filler and I feel as if they're pandering to try to seem more relatable. When they were in the movie theater and they put the Oscar audience on the screen and all the movie stars were just awkwardly waving and then with the collective "thank you", that was painful. It sounded like when you tell a five year old to thank someone for the cookie that they were just given. There's no meaning behind it, they're just glad they got the cookie. Nobody cared about it. That was really the only part of the night that I disliked.

I think my favorite part of the ceremony was Emma Stone's "these four directors and Greta Gerwig" line when presenting the award for Best Director. It had an effect without it being too over the top. I also enjoyed Jodi Foster and Jennifer Lawrence's playful jab at Meryl. It was lighthearted and fun.

Like you said, the winners in the big catagories were fairly predictable. I almost swept our picks! However, I came up short. Anyways, I was extremely happy for Gary Oldman's Best Actor win and thrilled that Jordan Peele took home Best Original Screenplay. The more I see Get Out and the more I think about it, the more I regard that film as a classic. There was a moment that I thought it might pull off the Best Picture upset and ruin me sweeping every category we picked, but another movie did that. (I'll get to it) Speaking of Get Out, I called the scene that they would use for Daniel Kuulya's Best Actor clip when presenting the nominees. Damn I'm good! I'm really glad they used that scene because it really shows how nuanced that character and movie really was. I was also super excited for Allison Janney because I felt for a long time that her talent was underrated and underappreciated. She's been in a ton of my favorite films and I'm glad she finally has Oscar gold attached to her resume. Drop Dead Gorgeous is fucking hilarious and your quote just made me seriously crack up!

I thought Eddie Vedder did a great job with the song and my wife thought it was a great song choice. I think they only landed on him singing Tom Petty because Petty is more accessible than Cornell to the general audience watching. You and I can easily draw the connection between Vedder and Cornell but your average Oscar viewer might not. On that note, how do you leave Adam West from the In Memoriam?

Alright, let's get to it. I was surprised that The Shape of Water won Best Picture, even though I know I shouldn't be that surprised. It does check off all the boxes for the Academy, even for a film with elements of fantasy to it. I was able to see this film after we made our Oscar picks and before the ceremony and I did really like the movie but I wasn't as taken by it as a lot of people were. Let me start by saying that I really liked the movie and loved the overall theme of the film; love, empathizing with someone who seems different, misunderstood. I love how the voice of the mute woman was a black woman and a gay man, members of two communities that were ostracized in this country during the 50s/60s (I still don't know what decade this film takes place in) by the greater society, even today. It's a great team of outcasts coming together to help save one of it's own. The acting was top notch and Sally Hawkins was absolutely stunning. However, the film feels like a safe choice for Best Picture to me. There really isn't anything risky with this film. It's not that much of a remarkable film aside from all the brilliant production values, which is what we've all come to expect with a Guillermo del Toro film. I've seen a number of different versions of this film throughout my life and Shape of Water just blends in with them. I'm not really happy that it won Best Picture. I picked Three Billboards to take it but deep down I really thought Get Out was the best one out of all of them. I felt it accomplished ten times more than any other nominee. If I were ranking the nominees that I've seen, Shape of Water would be number four or five for me.

Justin: Shape of Water takes place in 1962 or so, based on the use of JFK speeches.  It actually took me a while to figure that out; at first I thought it was the late 1940s, then mid-50s.  I agree, it was a fairly safe choice and not the most original story.  Of all the sci-fi/fantasy films that could've won Best Picture over the years, this one seems like one of the lesser examples.  But it was a well-made crowd-pleaser so I can see why the Academy liked it so much.

For me, Get Out was a really well-made thriller but I'm not sure I'd have included it in the Best Picture conversation.  Best Screenplay for sure, but for me it wasn't on the level of Three Billboards or Lady Bird.

It is odd Adam West didn't get a mention.  I guess he was mostly a TV star as opposed to a movie star.

Mike: Shape of Water was also del Toro's most accessible film. He was always a director that you knew you were getting some great, high level production with his films but when it came to liking the movies themselves, blew hot or cold. Shape was a pretty straightforward del Toro film.

The Oscar win for Kobe Bryant was a pretty interesting story line from last night. I wasn't aware he was even up for an Oscar and then BOOM, there he is accepting his award. I used to go and see the shorts every year because the theater where we used to live showed them, but ever since we moved I haven't caught up with the category. But the Kobe win has brought up the issue of the Academy giving the award to someone with well documented sexual assault allegations, again just allegations, in the middle of the #TimesUp and #MeToo campaigns. It does make me wonder how serious the Academy really is about change. I mean, there was tons of talk last night about inclusion and diversity however there was still only one black centric film in the Best Picture category and one woman nominated in the Best Director field. With all the times Wonder Woman was brought up during the night, along with Gal Gadot presenting an award and being front and center in the theater bit, you would've thought it was nominated for something...but, nope it wasn't. It will be interesting to see what direction the Academy and films in general go now that we live in a world where Black Panther exists and there's no turning to the old excuses of the box office and critics won't like a minority driven film. I hope there is a change because I think the movie going public loves to see stories that offer a different perspective.

Justin: Yes, the Kobe win reminded me of a quote from The Office, where everyone is making prop bets out of boredom.  Someone offers 10,000-to-1 odds on a bet and Kevin jumps at it, then says "If someone offers you 10,000-to-1 on ANYTHING, you take it.  If John Mellencamp ever wins an Oscar, I will be a very rich man...."  Between Trent Reznor winning one seven years ago and now this, there are some pretty unusual Oscar-winners.  It also occurred to me that for about an hour, Kobe Bryant was an Oscar winner and Gary Oldman wasn't.

Agreed about the discrepancy regarding #MeToo, but then again James Franco and Casey Affleck were not present at all last night.  I've been seeing a lot of comments about Wonder Woman not being nominated for anything, and for me that was a case of it simply not quite being Oscar-worthy in any given category.  It's a very good comic book origin film, but I wouldn't stack it up against Batman Begins or Iron Man in any major category.  Its special effects were fine, but not on the level of Apes or Blade Runner.  So I don't think I'd read much into that, per se; The Last Jedi has a female lead and it WAS nominated for the usual technical awards.  Black Panther could be another story (I still haven't seen it so I can't say whether I think it's Oscar-worthy).

One encouraging thought occurred to me as I watched: This year I'd actually seen more of the Best Actress nominees than Best Actor ones (4 performances vs. 2).  Twenty years ago that would've been unfathomable; back then the Best Actress performances were almost always in tiny indie films that got no mainstream attention, while the Best Actor nominees seemingly had much more crossover appeal.  But this year there were so many strong female performances, both leading and supporting, which is a good sign that change is finally occurring.  Of the nine Best Picture nominees, four had a woman as the top-billed star (and Dunkirk didn't really have a top billed actor at all).  Compare that with five years ago, when that was only the case for two Best Pic nominees (Zero Dark Thirty and Amour) or even the following year where the same was true (Gravity and Philomena).  We'll see if this trend continues, but it is very promising at first glance.  Couple that with the influx of strong female action leads over the past couple years (not to mention the backlash from some insecure male moviegoers - **groan**), and it definitely feels like the balance is shifting.

Mike: That's true. I forgot how many strong female leads there win in the nominated movies.

I agree that Wonder Woman wasn't Oscar worthy for much outside of the technical categories, but it felt like the Oscars were trying pull a quick one over. That's all.

Yeah, the absence of Casey Affleck was noticeable. Franco too even though he wasn't nominated for anything. I do like the direction things are going and i hope it continues. We will see.

Justin: Well Franco's film was nominated for Adapted Screenplay so his absence was conspicuous.

I was amused that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway got a do-over from last year.  The jabs about that snafu were pretty funny.

Mike: I was expecting Beatty to say La La Land when opening the envelope. That would've easily made me vomit. I thouggt it was good gesture to have them back and there was a little joke in and of itself to have them present it again. As soon as they walked out I could just hear the crowd go "Ohhhhhhhhh man!" I did feel bad for Beatty last year, but he still should've said something.

Justin: Yeah he needed to read the giant print on the envelope that said Best Actress.

Mike: Lol it's true.

It was a safe, run of the mill ceremony which was fine but I hope next year there's a new host. Kimmel was fine and he did a good job but there's no energy or excitement to him. Is Tiffany Haddish available? Because she was hilarious.

Justin: I feel like a little of Haddish goes a long way.  I dunno if she'd work as the host of a 4-hour show.  But yeah I'd be alright if they change it up next year.  Kimmel can come back after a few years.

Who have been your favorite hosts?

Mike: Really difficult to top Billy Crystal in the early 90s with his string of hosting duties. He really played well, especially with inserting himself in the best picture nominees. Whoopi was great too. I remember how she funny she was even with protests outside. I also enjoyed Chris Rock even though his year hosting isn't well regarded but I love how he just ripped into everyone, causing that air of awkwardness. Those are the best moments for me.

I would've loved to see the days when Bob Hope and Carson hosted but I've never went back to see the videos. I bet they were great.

For me, the worst was Franco and Anne Hathaway. Yikes!

Justin: Crystal was always great.  I've really enjoyed Ellen DeGeneres as the host too.  Chris Rock was unexpectedly hilarious I thought - I've never been a huge fan of his but he kinda nailed it.  The most disappointing host for me was Neil Patrick Harris, who played it way too safe.  I think my favorite underrated host was David Letterman - I was always sad they never asked him back.

Anne Hathaway by herself could've been good, but Franco was embarrassingly bad.

Anyway, I agree, it was a safe, enjoyable Oscars show with some great winners.

Well that's our take on the Oscars - thanks for reading.  Join us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter (@EnuffaDotCom)!

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