89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby nightwingnova » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:56 pm

Actually, this may get folks who otherwise might not warm to Moonlight's plot to check out the film to understand the shocker.

Mister Tee wrote: I’ve heard a few people complain that the screw-up denied the Moonlight people their full due, and I guess that’s true – it’s only in retrospect, almost as a side issue that people are dealing with the facts I described just above. But, on the other hand, they won in a way that no one will ever forget.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:24 pm

OK, many hours later, returning for an autopsy.

I think BJ had it right: that we have to look at the evening through multiple lenses: the show till the best picture astonishment, the fact of the Moonlight win, and the I-can't-believe-my-eyes-and-ears way it came down.

Rewind to the beginning. I thought Jimmy Kimmel did a generally excellent job. Kimmel has been a total sleeper for me. I think he first came to prominence with The Man Show, and I assumed for a long time that he was a "bro" kind of guy -- his late-night show was pretty much third choice for me. But in recent years I've been more exposed to him, and discovered he's genuinely funny. He seemed very present as host: many of even the better folk in recent years have receded into the background as the evening's wore on, but he seemed in control the entire time. A lot of people didn't like the tourist bus routine, and it did go on too long (it's hard to get amateurs to understand the need for pacing), but even there I found myself laughing lots. And the ongoing feud with Matt Damon was gold -- it kept building, culminating in the We Bought a Zoo thing and orchestra-drowning-out. Best running gag at the Oscars in years.

First award, to Mahershala Ali, was unimpeachable, and his speech was quite winning.

Then we had two minor upsets -- Suicide Squad for make-up and Fantastic Beasts for costumes -- that set the tone for a somewhat rocky evening. It's hard to feel good about an Oscar going to a film as lousy as Suicide Squad, but I was half rooting for it simply because it seemed less rote than another Star Trek victory. And the Fantastic Beasts win proved yet again how difficult it is for a contemporary film to take costumes. It also backed up Sabin's observation, that, to win costumes, it helps to also be nominated for production design.

The sound awards were weird. When Arrival won sound editing, I just assumed that meant Hacksaw Ridge was going home empty-handed -- sound editing seemed much friendlier turf for a war movie full of explosions. But that was immediately followed by Hacksaw winning the seemingly-tougher sound mixing. The only redemptive aspect of that was getting to see this O’Connell guy finally win; kind of pleasing that it happened at an unexpected time, and for at least a somewhat more serious effort than the Transformers crap for which he’s usually nominated.

The next hour or so was uneven. We had the not-fully-expected Hacksaw Ridge win in editing – which was the strongest suggestion yet that La La Land’s journey was not going to be the coronation some expected. But we also had a bunch of awards going as anticipated: cinematography and art direction to La La (as well as the song & score awards later), and also a string of minor categories that went according to the chalk: Zootopia, The Salesman, O.J., The Jungle Book. The overall gestalt was kinda-predictable/kinda-not, which fed into both versions of the finale.

Small side issue: if you’re finally going to get Meryl Streep to present something besides an honorary award or best actor, shouldn’t it be something more prestigious than cinematography? I appreciated the Bardem tandem with her, but, honestly, it felt like she and Halle Berry should have switched places.

Viola Davis; ah. Her speeches at other awards shows have always tended a bit toward preaching, but previous times, she’s brought us along with personal/human touches before launching into the big spiel. Last night, she jumped right to the preach, and I thought it was jarring. I tend not to be too judgmental of people in these situations – giving any kind of public speech takes a person out of their zone, and the massive worldwide stage only heightens that factor by about a thousand. All I can say is, her speech didn’t work for me.

Why do they insist on having people whose films are nominated in the category give out awards? I guess no one gave much chance to Rogue One in visual effects (Felicity Jones) or Arrival in adapted screenplay, but, geez, the original screenplay category was super-tense, and having Ben and Matt give out the prize seemed tempting fate. Though it did mean we knew Lonergan won as soon as the smile crossed Matt’s face. One of my happier awards of the night.

Soon surpassed by best actor. I’m with Uri: this was my deal-breaker category of the night, and I was very nervous leading into the presentation. Once Casey won, I felt like I was good with anything else that could happen. And I could, in retrospect, be glad that SAG injected suspense into the contest – much the way my Cubs fan friend said the Indians tie-ing Game 7 late made him appreciate the win more.

If Huppert (or the less-likely Portman) had then upset Stone, it would have made for the best actor/actress tandem since, when? – 1999? But, no, it was Stone, who was charming, as always. It’ll be interesting to see if this hobbles her career (as it seemed to do for Paltrow) or enhances it (a la Jennifer Lawrence).

So: the Moonlight upset (as apart from the fuck-up heard round the world). Sabin asked below if it was the greatest upset ever. I’ve always thought the Bob Fosse win in 1972 was the single greatest upset I’ve ever encountered – The Godfather had become the all-time box-office champ (which then often led to Oscars), had been massively critically-acclaimed, had won the Globe and DGA, then the reigning precursors. There seemed no reason in the world to doubt the film would win picture/director with ease – Fosse even said all his friends were consoling him pre-presentations for picking the one year when it was impossible for him to win. But that was a night a bit like this: though The Godfather was seen as the heavy favorite, it wasn’t picking up important awards along the way: Cabaret already had 6 prizes to The Godfather’s zero by the time best director came along. So, kind of like last night, the Fosse win that had seemed impossible at the night’s start got to feel more probable as the hours passed.

It’s been hard for a lot of us to accept over the last few years, but best picture/best director – for so long joined at the hip, even in the era of weighted voting for the former – are now two separate contests. We could easily rationalize away the Argo/Life of Pi split – as BJ rightly puts it, it’s hard to believe Affleck would have lost had he been nominated. But three more times in four years makes this a trend – the first time we’ve had anything close since the ’48-’52 anomaly. This one, though, was the least expected, and the hardest to explain. As Dennis Bee worked out years back, the norm for the split was a somewhat lightweight, undemanding film for picture (Chariots of Fire, Driving Miss Daisy, Shakespeare in Love, Gladiator, Chicago) and a darker, more art-aspirant director (Reds, Born on the Fourth of July, Saving Private Ryan, Traffic, The Pianist). Here, we have the precise opposite: by all rights, Barry Jenkins should have been the directing part of the split, and La La Land the film.

And it continues what’s become a tradition of the best picture winner earning substantially less at the box office – only Argo, of recent splits, out-earned its undercard. The gap here, between the $140 million of La La Land and the $22 million of Moonlight, is an even greater percentage disparity than that between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. I don’t think this is what the Board of Governors had in mind when they expanded the best picture slate.

And one more oddity: through this whole splits-as-routine period, the DGA has somehow remained the near-perfect gold standard for pinpointing best director. Except for 2012 when a match was impossible, the DGA winner has taken the directing Oscar every year post-2002.

So, finally, to the craziness. I assume everyone’s experience was the same as ours – the whole room reacting to the La La Land win, then watching dumbfounded as the reversal worked itself. Everyone at our party asked that I play my DVR immediately – we wanted to watch the confused moments and try to figure out just what was happening when. (And someone immediately related it to the election and Super Bowl – “Trump has fucked up everything”.) I watched again this afternoon, and couldn’t keep from laughing hysterically. I’ve heard a few people complain that the screw-up denied the Moonlight people their full due, and I guess that’s true – it’s only in retrospect, almost as a side issue that people are dealing with the facts I described just above. But, on the other hand, they won in a way that no one will ever forget. Everyone at our party stood around shell-shocked and half-giddy – universal agreement was, this was the most fun show ever. We complain an awful lot about the Oscars becoming too predictable; we can’t be disappointed when something so utterly unprecedented/unbelievable happens. (Of course, it happens that I didn’t have a strong choice between La La Land and Moonlight, so it was easy for me to take. A similar do-si-do between Affleck and Denzel would have devastated me.)

By the way, I vividly remember the 1963 precedent, when Sammy Davis Jr. got the wrong envelope (people have posted the link to it); it was only my second year watching the Oscars, and I laughed uproariously at it. But that was a minor category; who’d ever have dreamed such a thing could happen to the top award of the night?

ADDED: The class act of the night award has to go to the producer of La La Land, who handled a moment where he must have felt like he'd died inside with Hemingway-would-approve grace under pressure.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Bog » Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:38 pm

Uri wrote: In other words, once Casey Affleck actually won, I was totally content.


Exactly this...

Heksagon wrote:It's strange that Beatty didn't dare to call it off. Dunaway, I'm sure, just read the film title off the card and never thought anything else. Credit to Jordan Horowitz who took control of the situation when no one else wanted to. Unfortunate if this is the one thing he'll be remembered of for the rest of his life.
It was a huge, unlucky coincidence that the film which was erroneously declared as the winner was also the overwhelming frontrunner (which must have influenced Beatty's actions).


I've seen it over and over now, both on my DVR as well as every news outlet all night and all day, and would say I'm 99% sure Beatty had no intention of passing the buck (like Faye clearly thought) but to get her opinion first of am I really seeing this or have I lost it before calling a balk and commenting on the error.

Sabin wrote:Hosting is hard. You either take over the show or disappear entirely!


I couldn't even guess the last time a host was so present for nearly 4 hours...he dominated the show as host...not always a bad thing either as it turns out

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:25 pm

Sabin wrote:
Italiano wrote
I'm not the oldest one here, but I'm old enough and I follow the Oscars since I was a child. And let's say - since I can remember, the only comparable Best Picture upset is Chariots of Fire over, well, mainly over Reds.

I thought about that as well. But it's the "mainly over Reds" part that makes me wonder. It could've just as easily been On Golden Pond though, right? Had On Golden Pond won picture while Red won director, it might not have been that much of a shock.


Less shocking certainly - but really, Reds was expected to win big that night. And Chariots of Fire was this little British movie which, in absolute terms of likehood, was even less strong than Moonlight this year. Yes, its music score was very popular but for example even its screenplay win hadn't been predicted by anyone.
But yes, a La La Land loss could probably be compared to, say, Titanic losing to Good Will Hunting - which of course didn't happen.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:07 pm

Italiano wrote
I'm not the oldest one here, but I'm old enough and I follow the Oscars since I was a child. And let's say - since I can remember, the only comparable Best Picture upset is Chariots of Fire over, well, mainly over Reds.

I thought about that as well. But it's the "mainly over Reds" part that makes me wonder. It could've just as easily been On Golden Pond though, right? Had On Golden Pond won picture while Red won director, it might not have been that much of a shock.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:02 pm

Sabin wrote:Can we agree that Moonlight's victory over La La Land would constitute the biggest Best Picture upset in the modern era if not history?


I'm not the oldest one here, but I'm old enough and I follow the Oscars since I was a child. And let's say - since I can remember, the only comparable Best Picture upset is Chariots of Fire over, well, mainly over Reds. Back then only one or two journalists had vaguely predicted that (there wasn't internet of course). So in a way this time - when I think nobody predicted Moonlight - has probably been even more shocking. (Crash over Brokeback Mountain, while also a big surprise, wasn't as completely unexpected).

Very good show, really. It has reconciled me with the Oscars, in a way. Next year they should hire the same writers - and the same host. I truly enjoyed it - difficult to disagree with most of the choices, even. And, of course, that final mistake will stay in Oscar history as probably nothing else in recent memory - and will be remembered for decades. (Which isn't a good thing for the otherwise innocent Warren Beatty...)

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Uri » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:06 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:Glad to hear your dad will be okay. Sorry that that happened.


Thanks. Anyway, I'm rather used to it - last time I spent a day in the ER with him was the day I was all set to watch the Federer-Nadal finale at the Australian Open.

Life is what happens while you're busy making plans to watch the Oscars, it seems.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:49 am

Glad to hear your dad will be okay. Sorry that that happened.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Uri » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:39 am

So everything seemed to be on track. I ordered a wake-up call for 02:45 Am (the show starts here at 3) and went to bed early. And I did get a wake-up call. At half past one from my father’s caregiver, telling me I had to take my father to the hospital, which I did. So in real time, Oscars wise, I was in the ER and then checking my father to a hospital ward (he’ll be fine, BTW). Luckily, I did record the show, so I avoided any media channel until I arrived back home at seven in the morning to watch it. So this time it was only the show (minus the commercials – every cloud do have a silver lining) with no simultaneous online surfing. And of course the recording ended before the actual belated ending of the actual telecast, right after Moonlight was announced as the rightful winner, but midway through its producers’ speeches. Never mind.

But it actually was one of the best shows in a very, very long time. Unpretentious, good natured, nicely infused with a sense of heritage, with goofy yet smart reality check (the tourist bus stuff, that is), a relatively low dosage of heavily written, cheesy “spontaneous” banter, a high dosage of Mat Damon, a truly chaotic yet perfectly human and humanly handled climax, and after the dust settled, a perfectly acceptable list of winners, with only two truly objectionable ones (Davis and Chazelle). In other words, once Casey Affleck actually won, I was totally content.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:26 am

I thought Kimmel did a commendable job. He even handled most of the awkward moments well. The only misstep was when he said something dumb about Lin-Manuel Miranda to his savvy clinical psychologist mother in slow English as though he were talking to someone who just got off the bus that took her across the border. He seemed shocked that she responded in perfect English, saying "I know". He looked like he had another equally dumb question to ask, but changed his mind and went on to annoy someone else.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:56 am

Can we agree that Moonlight's victory over La La Land would constitute the biggest Best Picture upset in the modern era if not history? Whether or not it deserves Best Picture, it didn't even win the SAG Ensemble Award, which Crash, Shakespeare in Love, and Spotlight all did. How far back do we have to go to find something this surprising?

By virtue of the host, movies people cared about, and timeliness, this was going to be a popular ceremony. But if we can define popularity by views alone, I think this might already be the most watched moment of any Oscars ever. This overshadows the fact that this was an excellent Academy Awards. Jimmy Kinmel's middle American racism crept into too many of his jokes, but they'd be a fool to not bring him back. Hosting is hard. You either take over the show or disappear entirely. He was entirely in control and remained very funny. That scene of him watching "We Bought a Zoo" was screamingly funny. "Matt makes it looks so effortful." His punchline delivery ranged from deadpan to indifferent in a "I'm here to tell the jokes. You're here to get them" way, but they didn't stop and many of them were strong. The importance of these films and these awards were regularly felt. And of course, the show started off with a series of surprises. By the end, I had completely forgotten that perhaps the worst film I'd ever seen won an Oscar earlier in the night. Very strong show with very good winners.

I hate to rag on the La La Land crew, but don't thank your "blue-eyed wife"! It's hard enough to defend you guys and you're not helping!
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Heksagon » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:40 am

It's a huge mistake by PwC that's for sure, not only in giving the wrong envelope but also in not interrupting sooner. Steve Harvey skipping practice and not knowing how to read the card was plain dumb, but how can anyone possibly give the wrong envelope when there's only one category left to be announced?

It's strange that Beatty didn't dare to call it off. Dunaway, I'm sure, just read the film title off the card and never thought anything else. Credit to Jordan Horowitz who took control of the situation when no one else wanted to. Unfortunate if this is the one thing he'll be remembered of for the rest of his life.

It was a huge, unlucky coincidence that the film which was erroneously declared as the winner was also the overwhelming frontrunner (which must have influenced Beatty's actions) in the category, and there just happened to be one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history bubbling under.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby inky » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:13 am

The Original BJ wrote: It seemed like its big win at the Indie Spirits yesterday was simply due to La La Land's lack of eligibility. And it's not like it picked up any unexpected prizes early in the Oscar evening, like Cinematography or Editing, to tip us off.


Given that Moonlight could even beat LLL at the Oscar arena, LLL is not a shoo-in at Indie Awards even if it is eligible. Based on their track record, I suppose those indie folks are even more pro-serious themed films than Academy members as a whole.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:49 am

The mistake occurred because some idiot from Price-Waterhouse-Cooper wasn't on the ball.

They have two envelopes for each award. One PWC rep stands at each side of the (back) stage because they never know which side the presenters will come from. Apparently DiCaprio came from the opposite side than Beatty did and the rep on Beatty's side forgot to discard the Best Actress envelope and handed it to Beatty instead of the Best Picture envelope. Either that or he or she mistakenly discarded the Best Picture envelope because it's kind of hard to get envelopes mixed up when there is only one left!
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:23 am

The Original BJ wrote:(Yes, the fact that Best Actress had just been announced made it the more likely one, but at this point, nothing seems out of the realm of possibility).


So maybe, had Best Actor been given AFTER Best Actress and immediately before Best Picture, Faye Dunaway could have announced Manchester by the Sea, which - while definitely more believable than, say, Hidden Figures - would still have been a sort-of surprise. Before another surprise of course.


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