Monday, February 27, 2017

2017 Oscars Post Mortem

In one of the most unfortunate moments in Oscar history, “La La Land” was announced Best Picture only to have producers to come on stage to inform everyone that “Moonlight” had actually won.

With the preferential ballot, a divisive movie, in theory, has a harder time winning Best Picture. I have friends who didn’t like “La La Land.” I don’t know anyone who saw “Moonlight” who feels that way.  And “La La Land” didn’t receive as SAG Ensemble nomination. I wanted to think it was because it was a two hander. But perhaps not.

It will be impossible to ever look at this year’s ceremony without considering that crazy ending, but had it not happened, I think the show would’ve still been a success.

Starting things off with Justin Timberlake was a great idea! It set the tone just right. And the fun mostly continued. Sure, some of the speeches were a bit dull, but who honestly expects a cinematographer to drop it off like Viola Davis?

Kimmel was good. It’s a thankless job, but the Damon jokes were funny. Mean tweets was great.

I expected the tour bus bit to be a disaster, but it wasn’t. Not exactly. Having fancy, famous people sitting in their seats watching regular folk paraded in front of them like entertainment was a bit on the level of a freak show. But once they all started to interact, it was less weird.

It became obvious early on that “La La Land” was in trouble. It was supposed to win Sound Mixing and Editing. And when it didn’t, the writing was on the wall. The sweep is dead. (Please remind me of this next year.)

The question is, when did “La La Land” become divisive? It certainly didn’t seem so from the start. It even won the PGA on a preferential ballot. But the post PGA backlash was fierce. It continued throughout the night, even after the loss to “Moonlight.” People I follow tweeted how fun it was to see the award snatched away from “La La Land.”

I don’t know why I was shocked and appalled because this is how it has been for years. The only year I can remember a film seeming to win based on merit alone was “12 Years a Slave.” If there was a takedown of “Gravity” I don’t remember it.

“La La Land” is a great film. And Damien Chazelle was awarded for that. As were the composer, the lyricists, the cinematographer, the leading actress and the production designer.

Was “Moonlight” deserving of Best Picture. Absolutely. It is a masterpiece. Did it win because it was considered the best film or because it wasn’t hated? Did the Academy want to send a message? Who knows? We may never know. I know this. Awards Wiz took and will continue to take the high road. I don’t need to take down a film in order to love another.  Not today, at least. And I am thrilled that “Moonlight” became the first film centering on LGBTQ characters to win Best Picture.

Before the ceremony began I predicted that I would miss between 6 and 8 awards. And I missed 8. Here’s what happened.

Costume Design:
Prediction: Jackie
Won: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The Academy didn’t love “Jackie.” We saw that from the nominations. Now that we know “La La Land” wasn’t the sweeper some of us expected it makes sense that it didn’t win, considering contemporary design simply doesn’t take the prize. I picked “Jackie” over “Fantastic Beasts” based on the fact that no Harry Potter film had ever won.

Prediction: Star Trek Beyond
Won: Suicide Squad

Honestly, who knows? I thought that the Academy wouldn’t be able to see past how terrible the film was. I was wrong.

Documentary Short
Prediction: Extremis
Won: The White Helmets

I went with what I thought my heart said with this. But when “The White Helmets” won, I was thrilled. I believed Netflix would win, and I was right. I didn’t make the connection that “The White Helmets” was a Netflix doc as well. I should have gotten this one right.

Animated Short:
Prediction: Pearl
Won: Piper

I enjoyed “Pearl” the most of all the animated shorts. The only one I didn’t like was “Pear Cider and Cigarettes.” “Piper” was great. Good job Pixar.

Prediction: La La Land
Won: Hacksaw Ridge

Sound Mixing:
Prediction: La La Land
Won: Hacksaw Ridge

It was clear from the nominations that “Hacksaw Ridge” was loved by the Academy. I shouldn’t have taken that for granted. In the piece I wrote about Sound Mixing I proved that musicals DON’T always win this category and are often not nominated. I predicted LLL based on the sweep.

Sound Editing:
Prediction: La La Land
Won: Arrival

Kevin O’Connell finally won the Oscar! After 21 nominations.  He is a great talent and finally won for it.

Best Picture:
Prediction: La La Land
Won: Moonlight

Moonlight is a masterpiece. La La Land became too divisive after a barrage of “think” pieces and unfounded criticism in addition to not being universally beloved from the start.

I did get some things quite right. Last year I got swept away in “The Revenant” group think and promised myself I wouldn’t do the same this year. When people started to say Denzel was going to win, I refused to back down from my prediction of Affleck. To say that Denzel was robbed is comical to me. Denzel was fantastic, yes. But Casey Affleck gives a performance on the level of the Kazan days. Watch “Manchester By the Sea” again if you don’t think so.

Several people were saying that “Sing” wasn’t going to win live action short. As topical and meaningful as “Ennemis Interieurs” was, it simply wasn’t as good as “Sing.”

The rest that I correctly predicted was pretty much expected.

What’s Next:

What’s next for Awards Wiz? I hope to get some much needed rest at some point tonight, but I do hope to make it to the theater to see “Get Out” this week. That will certainly be a first for me this soon after the Oscars.

And this summer I plan on directing my first short film.

I’ve said it all season, and I’ll say it one last time. Here’s to the fools who dream, and here’s hoping that next year will provide a sliver of the incredible films/performances we saw in 2016.

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