89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

The Original BJ
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:50 am

This ceremony gave me flashbacks to the Brokeback Mountain Oscars, another night when, like Sonic this year, I had practically written my review of the show in my head, only to have the entire lede shockingly rewritten with the final envelope. The plus side is that, unlike the Crash horror, I was content with either La La Land or Moonlight winning, and not a strong acolyte of either, so I experienced the entire scenario simply from a stance of pure bewilderment rather than personal stakes. (Moonlight's top victory also sort of avenged Brokeback's defeat years ago, becoming the first explicitly LGBT-themed movie to win Best Picture.)

I feel like I have to divide this post into three parts: 1) the snafu, 2) the Best Picture upset (which I think deserves its own separate discussion), and 3) the rest of the show.

Part One: Bonnie & Clyde in La La Land

You sort of have to marvel at how astoundingly the chips managed to fall for this debacle to have occurred. And I don't just mean, Warren and Faye got the wrong envelope, and then Warren was confused, but Faye announced the name anyway. Because they could have been handed the envelope for another movie's win -- an envelope that read Fences, Arrival, or Hacksaw Ridge. (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). Had one of those movies been announced as the winner, something would have felt totally off -- not saying everyone would have instantly known there was a mistake, but the audience would have been baffled.

Instead, Dunaway announced the name of the movie everyone assumed would be winning Best Picture for months, and which had won six trophies, including Director, throughout the course of the evening. It felt like the obvious cap to the night, like plenty of Best Picture winners before it.

Furthermore, it's very easy to imagine a situation where this snafu wouldn't have mattered, where La La Land was in fact the Best Picture winner, and later, after the show had ended, Warren and Faye would have found out they announced from the wrong envelope, but no one really even needed to know, because the right people ended up with their Oscars anyway.

So the combination of the expected winner being announced and the actual winner being a shocking upset created this scenario that was totally bananas, and quite honestly, has to rank as the most bizarre thing to have happened in my now two-decades of watching this event. Kudos to both the La La Land and Moonlight teams for handling the situation with such class, though it's crushing that the La La Land producers literally had their assumed victory snatched from their hands, and also disappointing that the Moonlight team couldn't celebrate without their triumph coming with this strange asterisk.

Part Two: Moonlight?!?!?!

Putting aside the jaw-dropping manner in which the upset occurred, I also have to say that, simply in terms of outcome, this also strikes me as the biggest shocker of my years watching the Oscars. La La Land seemed to be running almost unopposed all season -- big box-office hit, a major critics prize, record-winning Globe haul, record-tying Oscar nomination haul, Picture/Director BAFTA wins, PGA, DGA. Just about its only bump was the WGA, and most of us rightly assumed that a musical wouldn't naturally be the most obvious fit there. (Although I can already hear the folks at Goldderby pointing out that the miss at SAG Ensemble should have been an obvious storm cloud.)

And simultaneously, Moonlight didn't exactly seem to be putting up much of a fight. It under performed most people's expectations at the Globes, blanked at BAFTA, and missed the SAG Ensemble win many of us thought it would get. 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.

It seems like two major factors contributed to its win (aside from simple enthusiasm/acclaim for the movie, which we all knew was there). The first is a clear willingness in recent years for voters to split Picture and Director in a way that's a big sea change from most of Oscar history -- four out of the last five races have produced a split. And examining each case is interesting. Argo/Life of Pi seems the sheer flukiest -- had Affleck been nominated for Director, he almost surely would have won there, so that situation feels sui generis. But the other three -- 12 Years a Slave/Gravity, Spotlight/The Revenant, and now Moonlight/La La Land -- show a real willingness for voters to separate these two categories, singling out directing brio without attaching it to their favorite movie of the year. One of these races seems like an obvious split, as Spotlight doesn't strike one as a director's movie, and you can easily see why something more visually and stylistically ambitious snagged the directing prize that year. But both 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight were both highly praised for directing -- there's no reason why, if those movies were the top favorite, directing couldn't have easily gone along with the Best Picture prizes. But it seems like, in both cases, members were discerning about their votes, preferring to really split hairs about the differences between these categories in a manner many of us have in our polls here. (I'm sure someone will write a think piece about how 12 Years and Moonlight both won Best Picture, but their black directors were denied, but that truly seems like the wrong take on all of this.)

Of course, it's also likely these Picture/Director splits are the product of the new way Best Picture is voted upon. Certainly The Revenant was a more divisive movie than Spotlight, and it made sense that the latter could be a consensus choice (with a lot of #2 and #3) votes, even if the former might have won on a straight-ticket ballot. It didn't seem to me that La La Land was similarly divisive, but it's worth noting that there have been a lot of articles from detractors going around lately, and it's possible that Moonlight was simply more well-liked by a broader group of voters. (Which honestly seems crazy to say, that the black gay indie was more of a consensus choice than the populist Hollywood-set musical, but here we are. It's possible the Oscars So White discussion and our current political climate helped push Moonlight over the top, but the movie was certainly acclaimed and well-liked enough that it would be silly to chalk its win simply up to politics.)

Part Three: The Other Three Hours and Twenty Minutes of the Show

La La Land's trajectory over the course of the evening was peculiar. An hour and a half into the show, it hadn't won a single prize, though I initially didn't think the Costume Design loss was particularly telling, as that category seemed like it could have gone any which way. But Editing and Sound Mixing struck me as categories I thought were locked up for La La, and when it lost both to Hacksaw Ridge, it became clear the movie wasn't going to get into record-tying territory, as seemed possible. A friend at my gathering at that point even said, if it doesn't win Cinematography, maybe the La La team needs to start worrying about Best Picture. Of course, it then immediately won Cinematography (the one place I thought it was really vulnerable, go figure), and then Song & Score, along with Director and Actress, and it seemed like it would end up with 7 trophies, pretty high for an era when only Return of the King and Slumdog Millionaire have netted more in this millennium. So the Best Picture loss was somehow both prefigured and shocking nonetheless.

Probably the happiest two wins for me were for Manchester by the Sea in Screenplay and Actor. My social media feed is aghast at Casey Affleck's win, and it's a tough conversation to try to navigate, because obviously the purity of movie awards is far less important than efforts to shut down rape culture. But, I'm of the opinion that it's a great performance, and that's what the award is for, and once you start drawing lines about what elements of artists' personal lives need to be taken into account when handing out trophies, where do you stop? Should every Oscar contender have to undergo a background check before receiving an award or nomination?

Denzel really looked pissed he lost, though. I'm surprised we didn't much discuss Best Actor beforehand, but my feeling was that third Oscars are tough to come by, and Denzel didn't seem to fit the profile of either of the recent triple-winners (Day-Lewis was basically running unopposed as the frontrunner, and Meryl was neck-in-neck with Viola but had been the runner-up so many times in recent years a third trophy seemed overdue) so that his last-minute urge just wasn't enough to overcome the huge acclaim for Casey Affleck, and the fact that he didn't really feel overdue for another prize. It's also worth pointing out a tiny observation -- last year, many folks wrote off Sylvester Stallone's losses at BAFTA and SAG to the fact that he wasn't on the ballot, arguing that it wasn't a sign of lack of support because he COULDN'T win there. But those omissions ultimately proved prophetic in the sense that his overall lack of momentum eventually cost him the Oscar. And this year, many wrote off the BAFTA Best Actor prize as un-predictive of the Affleck/Washington face-off, because Denzel wasn't a nominee -- maybe we should have interpreted that outcome more strongly as evidence of Casey's strength, and that Denzel's lack of nomination wasn't irrelevant.

We did, indeed, have a lineup of acting winners playing all fictional characters. Thrilled that Viola Davis finally has an Oscar, perfectly happy for Mahershala Ali, and though the charming princess tradition Mister Tee cited (which I think also would include Jennifer Lawrence, among recent winners) wouldn't usually be where my votes go, Emma Stone is certainly hard to root against.

Chazelle, Lonergan, and Jenkins split the Director and Screenplay prizes -- it seems appropriate that all three went home with something.

Seeing all the shorts this year did help my predictions -- I went 3/3 in predicting those categories.

The Hacksaw Ridge/Arrival split in the sound categories was fascinating. I'd love to see the vote totals in how close those films came to winning both prizes (as well as where La La ended up). And on his 21st nomination, it's hard not to feel excited that longtime sound mixer Kevin O'Connell finally won an Oscar.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Eenusch » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:47 am

Greatest Idea Ever...Invite Warren and Faye to June's Tony Awards to present Best Musical.

I'm not kidding. If Faye can survive Mommie Dearest, she can survive this. Warren, on the other hand, must feel totally humiliated and could use a do-over.

Why the hell didn't he just say, "I must have the wrong envelope," and ask for clarification. Can he not think on his feet?

Oh well, if Sue Mengers were alive she'd kill herself laughing.

Sally Field and Rob Lowe must feel like a curse has been lifted.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:06 am

The Oscar telecast is on at the best time of the day (midday) in my part of the world but I didn't want to watch it for a couple of rather petty reasons.

Spent the whole driving around the area where Babe was filmed and had a lovely lunch. I have only found out the results and read the commentary and don't think I missed anything.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby nightwingnova » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:02 am

Well, you guys got the surprises you wanted.

And with a seemingly less predictable membership, you should have them frequently.


Mister Tee wrote:It's way too late to write about this at length. Just popped in to say Wow.

Will talk about this tomorrow -- and, I imagine, for a long time to come.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:23 am

It's way too late to write about this at length. Just popped in to say Wow.

Will talk about this tomorrow -- and, I imagine, for a long time to come.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:00 am

I had a whole review in my mind for the show... the sets were terrific, this was very well paced, Kimmel is really fast on his feet but he was also sometimes his own worst enemy... but none of that really matters now, does it?

So I'll say this. We need a new law. No one is allowed to say "The Oscars are so predictable" until AFTER the Oscars are over. True, often they can be predictable. But they'll give a shock more often than people are willing to admit. So at least give it a chance to NOT be predictable before you complain about how it is predictable.

One more thing, and then good night. Before the Best Picture award, I thought this broadcast was the best commercial for Moonlight the film could ever want. Every time they showed a clip or a visual, I was dazzled at the imagery. Visually, it really stood out in comparison to the others. I can only assume it had the same effect on the rest of the viewing audience. I hope so, because more people should see it. And I don't know why, but "government juice" gave me the biggest laugh of the year.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:40 am

After the election, the Super Bowl, and whatever just happened right now, it seems like virtually every big cultural event as of late has had what seemed like an obvious outcome shockingly upset in the final moments.

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:20 am

I thought this was mostly a quite good show before the historic grand finale. Now, discussions of the quality of the broadcast doesn't seem to matter because whatever it was that just happened..... what WAS that that just happened?

ETA: And I'm really sorry Damien Bona isn't here to watch this.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby dws1982 » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:00 am

So they sure didn't have qualms about dropping spoilers in the acting clips this year, did they?

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby OscarGuy » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:38 pm

I liked it to a point, but it dragged on after a couple of minutes.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby mlrg » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:35 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:I glanced at Oscar Watch, and most people over there thought the tour bus joke was one of the worst moments in Oscar history.

I loved it.


what do they know about oscar history...

I loved it too

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:27 pm

I glanced at Oscar Watch, and most people over there thought the tour bus joke was one of the worst moments in Oscar history.

I loved it.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby mlrg » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:23 pm

I had never seen anything with Jimmy Kimmel, but he's the best host since Ellen

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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby OscarGuy » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:04 pm

He asked them to stand, I don't know that it qualifies as a standing ovation.

And, Kimmel is ABC's late night show host. He's hosting largely because the Academy waited too long to pick producers and they were being pressured by ABC to put Kimmel in charge.
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Re: 89th Oscars: General & Ceremony Discussion

Postby Reza » Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:55 pm

mlrg wrote:2 standing ovations in 5 minutes...

great opening


3 if you count the continuous one for Justin.


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