Monday, March 5, 2018

The 90th Academy Awards

It was a tradition that my late best friend and I would get together to watch the Academy Awards each year. Even when we could not do so, we would get on the phone immediately after the ceremony ended and talk about the awards. Even now that he has been gone for some time I still watch the Academy Awards even when I have not seen any of the movies nominated for Best Picture (which has been the case the past few years). Generally I am somewhat unimpressed by the ceremony, although I actually enjoyed last night's Oscars.

Much of the reason I enjoyed last night's Academy Awards is that the Academy actually acknowledged that movies were made before 1970. The past several years it has seemed to me that in selecting its clips, the Academy has generally not favoured older movies beyond The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Casablanca (1942). This was not the case last night, as among the clips featured last night were ones from Wings (1927), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), The Maltese Falcon (1941), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Network (1976), and many others. As a classic movie fan it was enjoyable seeing so many of my favourite movies in the various clips.

Of course, for me a highlight of the night was seeing Rita Moreno, with whom I have been in love since childhood. It was wonderful seeing her last night, and in the dress she wore when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story (1961) at that. I was also very happy to see Eva Maire Saint, and I appreciated her tribute to her late husband Jeffrey Hayden. As usual, Miss Saint was charm personified. I also enjoyed seeing Star Wars stars Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, and BB-8 presenting the awards for animation, particularly when Mr. Hamill kept repeating, "Don't say La La Land, don't say La La Land." Another highlight for me was Wes Studi introducing the Academy's tribute to the military. He was not simply eloquent as always, but eloquent in two languages at that. For those wondering what he said, it was in Cherokee. The Cherokee Nation translated it on Twitter as "Hello. Appreciation to all veterans & Cherokees who've served. Thank you!" As someone who is part Cherokee, I appreciated not only seeing Wes Studi on the Oscars, but hearing Cherokee spoken as well. Too often I feel that Native Americans are overlooked in modern American popular culture.

Of course, last night's ceremony was not perfect. I missed a good part of last night's In Memoriam because I broke down crying when they got to Robert Osborne, but I later learned that they missed a good number of individuals who died last year. Among these were Powers Boothe, Nanette Fabray, Lorna Gray, Dorothy Malone (who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Written in the Wind), Dina Merrill, Rose Marie, Adam West, and several others (for a more complete list, Sister Celluloid has one here).  I realise that the Academy does not want the ceremony to run overly long, but to me the In Memoriam segment is not the place to make cuts. They could leave out performances of the nominated songs and I would not miss them, and I can guarantee many people would not miss the various comedic bits during the ceremony.

Indeed, last night host Jimmy Kimmel and several Oscar attendees surprised a group of movie goers at Grauman's Chinese Theatre to express appreciation for movie audiences. While the stunt was a nice gesture and a good way of demonstrating the Academy's appreciation for movie goers, it also ate up valuable time that could have been spent, well, paying tribute to more people in the In Memoriam segment.

As to the Academy Awards themselves, I have seen so few movies from last year that I cannot say who deserved and did not deserve to win. I was glad to see Blade Runner 2049 (one of the few movies from last year I have seen) take the Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.  I must also say that I am happy that Guillermo del Toro won Best Director, as I have long been a fan of his work. I am also happy that The Shape of Water won Best Picture. I was rooting for it or Get Out as I thought it would be nice for a genre movie to win for a change.

Anyway, I did enjoy last night's Oscars more than many ceremonies I have the past several years. I appreciated the acknowledgement of films made before 1970, not to mention the diversity of this year's presenters. As to next year, I suggest the Academy is more inclusive with regards to the In Memoriam segment (which is something that people have been complaining about for years now) and keep any comedic bits to an absolute minimum.

No comments: