The Academy Awards have all been dished out, the envelopes have all been quadruple-checked for accuracy and we all feel very comfortable saying that "The Shape of Water" was the big winner at the 90th Oscars Sunday evening, earning Best Picture at the end of the four-hour telecast.
Guillermo del Toro's fishy fable's four wins was the biggest number of the night, as the Academy went ahead and spread the wealth around to many movies, from "Dunkirk" to "Get Out" to "Three Billboards" to – no, not you, "The Boss Baby." But who were the real winners and losers of last night's awards show? Here's what we saw:
Winner: "The Shape of Water"
In one of the most wide-open Oscar races in recent history, it was "The Shape of Water" that came out as the night's big winner – not just winning Best Picture over the favorite "Three Billboards" and the dark horse "Get Out," but also winning the most awards on the whole evening with four (Picture, Score, Production Design and Director). A pretty impressive feat considering it's a science fiction romance fantasy about a mute woman who falls in love with a fish monster and tries to protect him from the white male American government with the help of her black friend, a gay neighbor and a Russian spy. Not exactly typical Oscar fare.
It's a combination of elements that only Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy," "Pan's Labyrinth") could dream up, much less turn into a cohesive creation. Now somebody get this man the budget to make his "At the Mountains of Madness" adaptation.
Loser: "The Shape of Water"
We've reached the point where winning Best Picture is the worst possible outcome for most Oscar nominees. Suddenly your lovely little movie is crushed under the weight of THE GREATEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR – and if your film wasn't the most hip or fun choice, you might as well have made "The Emoji Movie." "The fish-monster sex movie was a disappointingly safe choice for Best Picture," wrote Slate somehow with a straight face, as though the back end of that sentence didn't read the first half.
True, "The Shape of Water" ticks a few traditional Oscar boxes: it's a tribute to Hollywood and a movie about racism, sexism, homophobia, outsiders and other timely themes without being angrily in the present. But it's also a lovely, beautiful, bizarre and bold high-wire act of a movie filled with true heart and passion that doesn't deserve to be turned into a punching bag. You can be sad the most interesting pick lost while celebrating that a great movie still won.
Winner: "Get Out"
Instead of lingering on how "Get Out" fell short Sunday night, let's just take a step back and see what "Get Out" pulled off: A small-budget thorny race horror-thriller, written by a comedian making his directorial debut, released literally over a year ago, was a legitimate Best Picture contender and even won Best Original Screenplay – easily the evening's most joyous moment. My Oscar party full-throat screamed (my apologies to my neighbors).
One movie just destroyed the rules of what's an "Oscar movie." So I think they still had a pretty good time Sunday night – and opened the door for many more fun Oscar nights in the future.
This picset of Keegan Michael Key celebrating Jordan’s Oscar win is everything! I pray all your friends celebrate your successes like this behind your back 🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/ENRnrEYulx — London Hughes (@TheLondonHughes) March 5, 2018
Loser: "Lady Bird"
Despite being a critical and fan darling for the past three months, it wasn't quite enough for "Lady Bird" to crack through Sunday night's tough competition, going home empty-handed. Picture, Director and Actress were all stretches for the coming-of-age comedy, and while Metcalf had buzz early on, Janney's scenery-gnoshing turn in "I, Tonya" hit at the right moment to sweep through Oscar season and turn her fellow TV veteran's performance into an also-ran. Original Screenplay was the only prayer for "Lady Bird," but voters instead went with "Get Out," wanting to get Peele on stage at least once for his immaculate work behind the movie of the year.
So what went wrong? Nothing, really. "Lady Bird" is just an easy movie to take for granted, not filled with giant performances or flashy moments but just a collection of perfectly dialed moments of natural teenage life building to a bittersweet finale. To appear effortless is a great triumph for a movie ... but it's terrible for winning awards, where people want to see people screaming and chewing on bison livers and doing "serious" work. The Academy may have changed a lot over the last few years – and all for the better – but they'll still typically go for "most" rather than "best."
Winner: Frances McDormand's speech
Even if you didn't like "Three Billboards," you almost certainly liked Frances McDormand in it – and you're almost guaranteed to have loved her speech, which spent most of its time praising her fellow female nominees and then left everyone Google-ing her mic drop of "inclusion rider" (in short, a little-known clause stars can ask for requiring diversity in a cast and crew). It was a speech that wasn't just nice words, but was actually an actionable push toward the change the industry still needs.
Loser: Kobe Bryant and Ryan Seacrest
Despite its good intentions in paying tribute to #MeToo, Time's Up, diversity and the rest of our testy political climate, the Oscars are still the Oscars, and this is still Hollywood, the place that let Harvey Weinstein be an "open secret" for decades. Tectonic plates are still shifting, resulting in some awkward whiplash from progress to ugly pasts. So on a night where Annabella Sciorra, Salma Hayek and Ashley Judd took the stage together, the Academy also rewarded accused rapist Kobe Bryant with Best Animated Short Film for a glorified halftime tribute video. I guess you get more time on your clock if you put up 81 points in a Lakers jersey against the Toronto Raptors.
Even before the show began, a sign of Hollywood hypocrisy and the work still needed to be done was grinningly greeting celebrities as Ryan Seacrest, recently accused of sexual misconduct, still hosted the main spot on E!'s red carpet show (protected by a 30-second delay just in case somebody had issues to voice). Leave it to Cookie, though, to sneak some devastating shade in.
The Oscars may have been a night of celebration for Hollywood, but Bryant and Seacrest showed the industry has no time to be taking a preemptive victory lap.
Winner: Maya Rudolph and Tiffany Haddish
I need these two starring in a buddy comedy, hosting every awards show, owning a Hollywood movie studio and running together on a presidential ticket yesterday. Paul Thomas Anderson, you better stop flirting around the idea of writing these two a movie and just make it now. They don't need a script; just throw a camera up, hit record and take all my money.
Loser: Wal-Mart's "The Box" ads
Dee Rees may have been robbed of an Oscar nomination for Best Director or Picture for "Mudbound," but at least she got to make a 30-second commercial dedicated to a Wal-Mart delivery box.
Winner: Roger Deakins
After going 0-for-13 over his incredible career, cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins finally got his win last night for the breathtaking "Blade Runner 2049." More proof that if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try and try again. So what did he do after finally getting to grace the Oscar stage after decades of snubbing? Give a profoundly humble speech thanking all those he worked with. We don't deserve this man. Let's not wait another 23 years to do this again.
Loser: The Visual Effects category
Forget the people whining about how we'll regret "The Shape of Water" winning Best Picture ten years from now. The real travesty from Sunday night is that the new "Planet of the Apes" movies, with their truly ground-breaking motion capture work turning a CGI creation into an incredible living, breathing character, never received any recognition – including the last stake in the heart last night as "Blade Runner 2049" won over the trilogy's finale. You maniacs! You blew it! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to heeeeeelllllllll!
Winner: The jetski
Jimmy Kimmel did an admirable job returning to the stage that almost undid him last year. The monologue was a little stiff, rockily ticking off the checklist of important topics to address from the past year (not sure we needed to rehash the "All the Money in the World" price gap debate again three months late), but he did find one great running gag for the night: the jetski, given away to whoever had the shortest acceptance speech. Both inside the theater and outside at Oscar parties everywhere, it became the joke of the evening. The only thing missing was a little scoreboard timer in the corner like it was the Olympics.
Loser: The "tribute to moviegoers" bit
In a transparent attempt to capture the fun of the tour group last year, Kimmel wrangled together a bunch of celebs (Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Margot Robbie) to surprise a screening full of filmgoers waiting for "A Wrinkle in Time" next door. Because there's no better way to pay tribute to people seeing movies than not letting them watch their damn movie. YOU ARE ADDING TIME TO THOSE POOR PEOPLE'S BABYSITTER BILLS!
Also, didn't we start the night chiding winners to keep their speeches short? And now we're wasting 30 minutes watching Armie Hammer blast hot dogs at stoned movie fans with a sausage cannon? Actually, that's great; cancel the Oscars next year and give me more "The Adventures of Armie Hammer: Sausage Slinger."
If you had Armie Hammer shooting a hotdog canon at an unsuspecting crowd on your 2018 Bingo card, congratulations #Oscars pic.twitter.com/QkVD3Uc6ZD — The NYC Film Chick 🧝🏾♀️ (@TheNYCFilmChick) March 5, 2018
Winner: The set
The Aggro-Crag for Nickelodeon's dark and gritty reboot of "Guts" looks a lot more expensive than I expected. That, or "Frozen" on Broadway is going to be LIT.
Loser: The ending
Last year's Best Picture snafu was the best worst thing to happen to the show, a brief moment of true live spontaneous and unpredictable television ... that also totally stepped on "Moonlight's" moment and snatched joy literally out of the hands of "La La Land." Not great! So this year, they labelled all the envelopes in 72-size neon lettering so even the most star-blinded accountant couldn't mess things up.
Even when they got the envelopes right – and politely brought legit legends Beatty and Dunaway back for attempt number two (who else was sweating watching the former struggle fiddling the winning card out of the letter?) – the Oscars couldn't quite stick the landing, cutting off a poor "Shape of Water" producer and awkwardly having Kimmel come out to translate a SparkNotes version of his speech to the checked-out crowd. It was clunky end – but hey, at least the "Phantom Thread" costumer got his jetski!
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.