Arts & Style

The Shape of Water takes home top film awards at 90th Oscars

On March 4, the crème de la crème of Hollywood put on their best Sunday dresses and got together to honor the worthiest achievements in the cinematic arts. Hosted by comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel for the second consecutive year, this ceremony was a special one: it was the 90th annual ceremony.

A lot of actions were taken in order to make this event truly spectacular, yet no champagne in the world could have helped liven up the party.

The stakes were high this year; this was the first Oscars ceremony of the #MeToo, Time’s Up and Never Again era, so an uncomfortable sense of expectation was palpable. The films nominated this year were filled with powerful feminist and inclusive sentiments: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Call Me by Your Name; Get Out; Lady Bird and The Post all reflect trends of activism and awareness similar to those the country is
focusing on right now.

To Kimmel’s credit, in his opening monologue he balanced the somber tones of the social change and his usual savvy zingers. As the night continued, Kimmel’s jokes plummeted into clichés, ending in an absolutely redundant appearance of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as presenters for best picture in order to redeem them from last year’s infamous envelope mix-up.

Yet a little mix-up would have been exciting as the night lacked any notable surprises. The biggest award-snatcher was Guillermo del Toro’s love-child The Shape of Water, which was nominated for 13 awards and won four: best picture, best director, best original music score and best production design. Christopher Nolan’s cinematic spectacle Dunkirk collected three golden statuettes for best sound mixing, best sound editing and best film editing. Blade Runner 2049, a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 magnum opus, took home best visual effects and best

Comedy Central alumnus Jordan Peele won best original screenplay for the culturally charged film Get Out. James Ivory became the oldest Oscar winner at 89 years old after collecting best adapted screenplay for the romantic drama Call Me by Your Name.

The most striking victory of the night went to basketball-legend Kobe Bryant, who won best animated short film for Dear Basketball — a love letter to Bryant’s favorite sport that the athlete produced and narrated. Disney’s Coco grabbed best animated feature, and after a touching performance of “Remember Me” by Miguel Lafourcade, Gael García Bernal and Natalia Lafourcade, the Mexican fairytale also won best
original song.

The acting categories this year also left little room for surprise. Last year’s winner Viola Davis presented the first award of the night for best supporting actor to Sam Rockwell for Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri for his portrayal of a troubled police officer handling a rape crime. Allison Janney’s terrifying portrayal of Tonya Harding’s borderline-psychopathic mother in the biopic I, Tonya won her an Oscar for best supporting actress, breaking Janney’s perceived curse as a result of her work as a TV actress.

British powerhouse Gary Oldman collected his Oscar for portraying Winston Churchill in historical drama Darkest Hour. In the film, Oldman was barely recognizable under the bulldog-like face prosthetics — for which the film also won best makeup and hairstyling — resulting in an Oscar win that some perceived as an award for Oldman’s career as well as a competitive success. Best actress triumphantly went to Frances McDormand for Three Billboards where she played a matriarch on a journey to avenge her daughter’s death.

Twenty-two years after she won her first Oscar for Fargo, McDormand fiercely stepped on stage like a hurricane, using her speech to acknowledge all of the talented women who were nominated this year by asking them to stand up and applaud for themselves.

This year’s ceremony was a significantly feminist event. Women took center stage, standing strong and proud.

There were more female presenters than male this year, including powerful and politically active actresses Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lawrence, Jodie Foster and Gal Gadot.

Latina trailblazer Rita Moreno surprised the audience by wearing the same dress she wore to the 1962 ceremony, when she won her
Oscar for West Side Story.

Moreno presented the award for best foreign film, which went to A Fantastic Woman, the Chilean masterpiece about a transsexual woman.

The entire audience leaped to their feet when 93-year-old Eva Marie Saint, who won an Oscar in 1954 for On The Waterfront, appeared from the curtains. Saint shared the stories of working with some of the greatest actors in history before presenting an award to Phantom Thread for best costume design. One of the night’s most significant moments was when Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra introduced a short film highlighting the diversity in cinema and the Time’s Up movement.

Still, the overall atmosphere of the ceremony felt less empowering than it was condescending and, for the first time, the Oscars were less politically sharp and prominent than even its younger sibling, the Golden Globes.

Not only did the Academy fail to convey the national energy into a focused message, but it also produced a rather lackluster gathering that was not worthy of the most reputable prize in the industry on its significant anniversary.

March 12, 2018

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Maxim Ibadov

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