REVIEW – the 88th Academy Awards – February 28TH, 2016

Well, Chris Rock could have used more polish, but some nominees were absolutely golden. 

I found the 88th Academy Awards to be a little dull  this year, unless you were a nominee – or, at least announcing them. Some of the more fun moments came from the animated characters…and the droids. It was cool to see C-3PO, R2D2 and BB-8 roll out for their bit. However, their presence didn’t help Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the Oscar win category: the 7th movie in the franchise had zero wins in any of the technical categories – many of those going to Mad Max: Fury Road. Also entertaining? Woody and Buzz from Toy Story, and The Minions – both of them presenting awards for animated films.

Chris Rock took on hosting duties for the second time, and had a lot of work to do in the context of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. He didn’t waste any time. Within the first few minutes, he came right out of the gate with some commentary on the issue.

“We’ve got all this controversy…no black people nominated…you know, I thought about quitting (hosting duties), but then I realized they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway, and the last thing I need is to lose a job to Kevin Hart.”

After about five or six minutes of addressing the situation, he boiled down the message to a few powerful sentences:

“We (black people) want opportunities; the same opportunities…that’s it.”

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs also addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, saying she hopes The Academy will be something that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud of. Earlier this year, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.  During the red carpet ceremonies, she said she’d hoped people didn’t think the move by the Academy’s Board of Governors was something they’d just decided to do; that there was meaning behind the change.

Back to our host: when Chris Rock was meaningful, he was on point. When he was trying to be funny, it was…not good.

In the category of moments you want to forget: Stacey Dash coming out for a Chris Rock joke, then capping it off with her “Happy Black History Month!” remark.

She was…met with crickets. Dreadful. Also in the category of awkward: an incredibly poorly executed joke by Chris Rock involving the accountants all being Asian. Hey, at least the kids used in lieu were cute, I guess.

 

If there was someone who stole the show tonight, it was B.C.’s own Jacob Tremblay. The following photo went out before the ceremonies…

Yeah. That was a thing that happened. It was also super adorable to see Tremblay need a stand to present the award for Best Live Action Short.

Now to the more bizarre part of the ceremonies: the awards. How confusing were those?!

There were a couple of fascinating surprises tonight: I screamed my head off in excitement when Alicia Vikander won for The Danish Girl. I was very disappointed she wasn’t nominated for Ex Machina, and with Kate Winslet’s heartstring tugging performance in Steve Jobs, it was tough for me to vote for anyone else (not to mention all of the Rose/Jack jokes a la Titanic – and both of them winning Oscars; a reunion, of sorts). But with Vikander’s other performances this year (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Ex Machina), and her brave and emotionally-charged one in The Danish Girl, it was well-deserved.

While I’d hoped Mad Max: Fury Road would take home something (and honestly thought it wouldn’t go home with much), it ended up taking home MANY somethings. It was a stronghold in the visual and sound categories – overwhelming for so many – with a total of six awards – the most for the night. In other words: it was a technically sound two-hour car chase. Good on ya, George Miller! Yes, this is the same guy who directed Happy Feet, and Babe.

Spotlight took home Best Picture, one of the two awards it nabbed (it also had Best Original Screenplay). The Revenant, which all the betters putting it down for Best Picture, only took home three of its twelve possible awards: Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Cinematography, and Best Director (a back-to-back win for Alejandro G. Iñárritu; he won for Birdman last year).

Some definite upsets from my point of view: Anomalisa, a stop-animated movie – was nominated at both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Brilliant, refreshing and a little inappropriate, it lost once again to Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out. Also disappointing: Sam Smith’s “The Writing’s on the Wall” for SPECTRE, picking up not only the Golden Globe, but tonight’s Academy Award for Best Original Song. I’ve said it so many times: his go at the Bond franchise’s recent theme is garbage. However, both of those winners really had some fantastic messages. From Inside Out’s Pete Docter:

…and Sam Smith said he was the first gay man to receive an award for Best Original Song…which…I’m pretty sure he’s wrong about. Anyways…congrats to both of them.

Speaking of Best Original Song, Lady Gaga absolutely crushed it with her performance of “Til it Happens to You,” from The Hunting Ground. At the end of the performance, Gaga had survivors of sexual violence come out and join her on stage. A truly emotional performance, and really, I thought she and Dianne Warren should have taken it home.

Overall, not the most exciting night in recent history at the Academy Awards, but it was a night nonetheless. And to all of you who did terribly in your office pools (count me among you), don’t worry…there’s always next year!

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