The Oscars happened last night. They were fine. Some talented people won awards. Some more-deserving people didn't. There were jokes. Some were kind of funny. There were earnest moments. They were kind of touching.
On the whole, people searching for an overarching political narrative to emerge from the ceremony were surely disappointed, as were people hoping for any real surprises. It was showbiz 2018-style, with gestures toward a desire to redress historical inequality circumscribed by the larger reality that a four-hour pageant celebrating the most visibly overcelebrated people in the world might not be the best vehicle for change of this nature.
The Shape of Water won best picture and Guillermo Del Toro won best director. Frances McDormand won best actress. Gary Oldman won best actor. Allison Janney won best supporting actress. Sam Rockwell won best supporting actor. Jordan Peele won best original screenplay for Get Out. James Ivory won best adapted screenplay for Call Me By Your Name.
Anyone could name at least one nominee in each of these categories who should have won instead. But I always feel a little nauseous any time I have an emotional response to the winner or loser of an Oscar. Nevertheless, the Best Supporting Actress category was especially tricky this year, as I loved the idea of Allison CJ Cregg Janney winning an Oscar, but not at the expense of Laurie Metcalf, whose nominated performance in Lady Bird was more complex, challenging, powerful, and rewarding.
But again, as ever, who cares? Metcalf doesn't. She's on Broadway doing an Edward Albee revival.
Janney's shout out to her late brother and Sam Rockwell's shout out to "my old buddy Phil Hoffman" (as in Philip Seymour Hoffman) were really nice.
Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, presenting best documentary short, were pretty funny.
The great Frances McDormand's speech was good and funny and gloriously off-kilter. The Olympics reference was apparently about snowboarding. The moment where she had her fellow female nominees stand was stirring and good. Also, now we all know about the "Inclusion rider," so we can enhance our respective delusions of what essential deal points we can demand for the Hollywood contracts we will never sign or see.
And Sufjan Stevens had a very good jacket, but his ASMR music, surely the second-worst thing about an otherwise great film, lost out to a song from a cartoon movie no one who doesn't have kids will ever see. So that was good.
Everything else was a little whatever. Maybe next year, when Black Panther sweeps the major categories, the Oscars will be more interesting.
Speeches and highlights below:
Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph
Kristin Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez (for Best Song)
Guillermo Del Toro