Mr. Oscar turns Ninety and is still in great shape, bringing us great films in a golden cinema season.
Italy lived a strange Oscar night, as everybody was too busy staring at the TVs with all the main networks broadcasting exit polls and electoral analysis. Those interested in both current events and cinema flipped through the channels, ending up at 4:00 a.m. convinced that the next Italian Prime Minister would be Meryl Streep or Daniel Day Lewis, supported by a coalition led by Cristopher Nolan or Winston Churchill… Erm, Gary Oldman.
Indeed, this year brought us a lot of high-quality movies but, first of all, we will have to overlook the exclusion of James Franco due to the harrassment case that blew up just before the announcement of his nomination. However, ‘The Disaster Artist’ is a dazzling movie, a very funny story and a declaration of love to cinema at the same time, so it deserved a mention.
Everybody had high hopes for ‘The Shape of Water’. Indeed, with thirteen nominations and the victory at the Venice Film Festival, it is considered to be the best movie of the year. Then, we shall not forget Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phanotm Thread’. There is a reason why this director is so much loved by Academy and the star of the film, Daniel Day Lewis, even more. Among the outsiders, our Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Call Me by Your Name’, togehter with ‘Get Out’ and ‘Lady Bird’, are three little gems. Both the incredible ‘Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri’ and ‘The Post’ (starring Meryl Streep) by the habitué Steven Spielberg, are already monuments. Last but not least, Cristopher Nolan and Joe Wright recount the same tragic years of British history, one from the frontline with ‘Dunkirk’, the other from the institutional buildings with ‘The Darkest Hour’.
Finally, the animated film ‘Coco’, the odds-on favorite from Pixar, had to deal with the English sperimental and gripping ‘Loving Vincent’. In the technical categories, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ standed out. Moreover, for the first time ever, a superhero movie received a nomination for Best Screenplay with ‘Logan’, showing that even this genre can evolve and go beyond simple entertainment.
After a long and glamourous Red Carpet, we could enter the Kodak theatre. Jimmy Kimmel, at his second presentation after last year’s edition, started with a black and white video in a ’40s-’50s classic cinenews sytle. Then, he arrived on a stage full of Swarovsky diamonds (maybe too many?) for the classic presentation monologue. Humor on what happened last year, the ‘La La Land mistake’, could not miss: ‘When you hear your name, don’t get up and wait a few minutes!’, he jokingly said to the audience.
Finally, the moment that everyone has been waiting for arrived when he talked about the absolute protagonist of the night, Mr. Oscar, ‘the most rispectable man in Hollywood, as he always keeps his hands where you can see them, never says a rude word, and most importantly, no penis at all’. A reference to the events concerning sexual harrassment that recently shocked the gilded world of Hollywood was unavoidable.
Awards and speeches
The award ceremony began without big surprises. ‘Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri’ took home the statuette for Best Supporting Actor, with Sam Rockwell. Immediately after, Frances McDormand went on the stage to collect her second Oscar in the same category. She struck the audience when she told all the women in the parterre to stand up, remarking that she is proud to see at least one woman competing in every category. Indeed, for the first time ever, a woman got nominated for Best Cinematography.
Another funny speech has been pronunced by Kobe Bryant, awarded with the Best Animated Short Film Oscar for ‘Dear Basketball’, availabe also on Vimeo. He also showed his excellent Italian with a touching declaration of love to his wife: ‘Gianna, ti amo con tutto il mio cuore!’.
Gary Oldman won his first statuette, thanks to the knock-out impresonation of Winston Churchill in ‘The Darkest Hour’, awarded for Best Makeup. The Oscar for Best Supporting Actress went to Allison Janney, for the interpretation of the terrible mother of the iceskater Tonya Harding in ‘I, Tonya”, available in Italy by the end of March.
The technical categories were dominated by ‘Dunkirk’ (Oscars for Best Film Editing and Best Sound) and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ (for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects). Unsurprisingly, the award for Best Costume Design was given to ‘Phantom Trhead’. The outsiders ‘Get Out’ and “Call Me by Your Name’ could only win one, but very valuable Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Pixar took home its millionth Oscars for Best Animated Feature and for Best Original Song with ‘Coco’. Finally, despite the thirteen nominations obtained, ‘Shape of Water’ won ‘only’ four awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Music Score, Best Production Design).
In conclusion, the few surprises have been balanced by an overall successful show. Its real star, the television host Jimmy Kimmel, entertained and managed to make the audience laugh. Indeed, he did his very best when he involved the audience with funny gags, and especially when he asked to an amused Steven Spielberg: ‘So, what’s your name boy? Is it your first time here?’. In addition, the remarkable choice of music and the great splendor of the stage pleasantly brought out the simplicitly of Kimmel’s performance.
Finally, there were not even the so much dreaded protests on the stage. For the great pleasure of the movie buffs, the show went on smoothly, thanks to an elegant direction and to a showman who knew how to gently approach a Hollywood in a deep identity crisis. So, happy birthday Mr. Oscar, and see you next year!