The Oscars are back, and this year there won’t be any outcry at the lack of diversity that marred the 2016 ceremony (thank you politically conscious Academy board!). But whereas we now have a wider colour spectrum amongst the nominees – Joi McMillan is the first African-American nominee in the Editing category since 1970 – what we do have are fewer movies to choose from. La La Land‘s fourteen nominations, added to the eight nominations for Arrival and Moonlight, and the six accorded to Hacksaw Ridge, Lion and Manchester by the Sea, means a very short field to choose from overall. It’s only in the technical categories that there’s any real diversity, with the likes of Suicide Squad, Sully, Passengers and Deepwater Horizon getting a look in (and who would have thought Suicide Squad would get a nod?).
But what’s an Oscar ceremony without some kind of controversy? With diversity having been addressed, it’s politics’ turn to be the bad guy at the Oscars (and not for the first time). Asghar Farhadi, director of The Salesman, couldn’t attend the event thanks to Donald Trump’s not-exactly-popular immigration ban. And Kaled Khateeb, one of the cinematographers on documentary short The White Helmets, was also banned from entering the country (he’s from Syria). Hollywood (a foreign land all by itself at times) was built by immigrants, and over the years it’s been very vocal about political decisions that have had a negative effect on the movie industry. And this year hasn’t been any different, with ??? all taking the opportunity during their acceptance speeches to stick it to the current floppy-minded President (sorry, floppy-haired President).
But political nut-kicking aside, it was otherwise another predictable night at the Oscars, from new host Jimmy Kimmel’s tribute to some of the nominees, to the nominees in the Best Song category being performed live, to the usual weird camera pans over the audience, and close ups of stars who were all desperately pretending not to be aware that a camera was staring right… at… them. There was a big production number from Justin Timberlake to start things off and it had some very awkward looking stars trying to look like they had rhythm. The highlight of the show was the introduction of a group of tourbus tourists who weren’t expecting to take part in a live Oscar ceremony, and who stole the whole night out from under everyone. Real people – you just can’t beat ’em.
Winners in bold.
First-time nominee Ali’s win was no surprise, and he got a standing ovation. He thanked his teachers and their telling him that the characters are what’s important, and not him. He was visibly upset, but noted his being inspired by the rest of the cast. Presented by Alicia Vikander.
Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
A Man Called Ove – Eva von Bahr, Love Larson
Star Trek Beyond – Joel Harlow, Richard Alonzo
Suicide Squad – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, Christopher Nelson
Well, well, well, who would have thought it? Presented by Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman.
Achievement in Costume Design
Allied – Joanna Johnston
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Colleen Atwood
Florence Foster Jenkins – Consolata Boyle
Jackie – Madeline Fontaine
La La Land – Mary Zophres
Fourth time lucky for Atwood who really is one of the best costume designers working today. Presented by Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman.
Best Documentary Feature
Fire at Sea – Gianfranco Rosi, Donatella Palermo
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, Hébert Peck
Life, Animated – Roger Ross Williams, Julie Goldman
O.J.: Made in America – Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow
13th – Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick, Howard Barish
Another odds-on favourite takes the Oscar and a short heartfelt speech from Edelman who acknowledged Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. Presented by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.
Achievement in Sound Editing
Arrival – Sylvain Bellemare
Deepwater Horizon – Wylie Stateman, Renée Tondelli
Hacksaw Ridge – Robert Mackenzie, Andy Wright
La La Land – Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
Sully – Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Another first-time winner, and the best outcome. Bellemare also won at the BAFTAs and so this was a perfect result. Presented by Sofia Boutella and Chris Evans.
Achievement in Sound Mixing
Arrival – Bernard Gariépy Strobl, Claude La Haye
Hacksaw Ridge – Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, Peter Grace
La La Land – Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, Steve A. Morrow
Rogue One – David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, Stuart Wilson
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Mac Ruth
Kevin O’Connell’s first win after twenty previous nominations was a lovely moment, and he did really well to hold it together to give a heartfelt thanks to his mother for getting him a job in Sound in the first place. Presented by Sofia Boutella and Chris Evans.
Another odds-on favourite winner given a standing ovation, Davis’ win led to her making a speech that was poignant (if overlong) and which made reference to August Wilson for telling stories about ordinary people. Presented by Mark Rylance.
Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine – Martin Zandvliet
A Man Called Ove – Hannes Holm
The Salesman – Asgahr Farhadi
Tanna – Martin Butler, Bentley Dean
Toni Erdmann – Maren Ade
Farhadi obviously couldn’t attend but a speech he had prepared condemning Trump’s immigration ban received applause, and was the first fully politicised moment of the evening. Presented by Charlize Theron and Shirley MacLaine.
Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha – Theodore Ushev
Borrowed Time – Andrew Coats, Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Pear Cider and Cigarettes – Robert Valley, Cara Speller
Pearl – Patrick Osborne
Piper – Alan Barillaro, Marc Sondheimer
A great result for Pixar whose animated shorts are still as beautifully and brilliantly made even when the company’s feature length movies don’t quite meet those requirements. Presented by Hailee Steinfeld and Gael Garcia Bernal.
Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings – Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner
Moana – John Musker, Ron Clements, Osnat Shurer
My Life as a Zucchini – Claude Barras, Max Karli
The Red Turtle – Michaël Dudok de Wit, Toshio Suzuki
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Clark Spencer
Richly deserved, this was easily the right result, and also the right Disney movie to win the award. Presented by Hailee Steinfeld and Gael Garcia Bernal.
Best Production Design
Arrival – Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock
Hail, Caesar! – Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
La La Land – David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena
The first win of the night for La La Land and not entirely unexpected. Presented by Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
Achievement in Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon – Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, Burt Dalton
Doctor Strange – Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli, Paul Corbould
The Jungle Book – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, Dan Lemmon
Kubo and the Two Strings – Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean, Brad Schiff
Rogue One – John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel, Neil Corbould
Not the best result but in keeping with the evening’s apparent attempt – by this stage – to give an award to every separate movie that was nominated. Presented by Felicity Jones and Riz Ahmed.
Best Film Editing
Arrival – Joe Walker
Hacksaw Ridge – John Gilbert
Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
La La Land – Tom Cross
Moonlight – Nat Sanders, Joi McMillon
And so, the first movie to win two Oscars is… Hacksaw Ridge, a notion that wouldn’t have been given too much credence before the show started. A good result nevertheless. Presented by Michael J. Fox and Seth Rogen.
Best Documentary Short Subject
Extremis – Dan Krauss
4.1 Miles – Daphne Matziaraki
Joe’s Violin – Kahane Cooperman, Rafaela Neihausen
Watani: My Homeland – Marcel Mettelsiefen, Stephen Ellis
The White Helmets – Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara
Another poke in the eye for Donald Trump and his immigration ban, and a prepared speech by the leader of the White Helmets (unable to attend) was received warmly. Presented by Salma Hayek and David Oyelowo.
Best Live Action Short
Ennemis intérieurs – Sélim Azzazi
La Femme et le TGV – Timo von Gunten, Giacun Caduff
Silent Nights – Asks Bang, Kim Magnussen
Sing – Kristóf Deák, Anna Udvardy
Timecode – Juanjo Giménez
Like many of the categories, not an easy one to pick but still a deserved award. Presented by Salma Hayek and David Oyelowo.
Arrival – Bradford Young
La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Lion – Greig Fraser
Moonlight – James Laxton
Silence – Rodrigo Prieto
Not exactly unexpected, but if you were Rodrigo Prieto you’d have every right to feel aggrieved. Presented by Javier Bardem and Meryl Streep.
Best Original Score
Jackie – Mica Levi
La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
Lion – Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka
Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
Passengers – Thomas Newman
La La Land starts to gain momentum at this point, picking up its third award, and Hurwitz gave a succinct speech thanking everyone else on the movie for inspiring him. Presented by Samuel L. Jackson.
Best Original Song
Jim: The James Foley Story – “The Empty Chair” – J. Ralph, Sting
La La Land – “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
La La Land – “City of Stars” – Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Moana – “How Far I’ll Go” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
Trolls – “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, Karl Johan Schuster
Number four for La La Land, with Hurwitz doing his best to thank all the people he couldn’t previously. Presented by Scarlett Johansson.
Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
A near flawless script that would have been robbed if anyone else had won. Lonergan was magnanimous in his speech and gave thanks to his father who passed away earlier this year. Presented by Ben Affleck and “guest”.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Fences – August Wilson
Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Lion – Luke Davies
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Moonlight‘s second win was entirely well deserved and Jenkins managed to thank a hell of a lot of people and at a rate of knots. And McCraney made it clear that the movie was for anyone who felt the same way that Chiron does. Presented by Amy Adams.
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
The youngest person ever to win Best Director, Chazelle was a little overwhelmed but gave a lovely shout out to his girlfriend. Presented by Halle Berry.
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences
Despite the possibility of Washington snatching the award at the last minute, Affleck was easily the right choice, and was completely “dumbfounded” by his win, but still managed to give a poignant acceptance speech. Presented by Brie Larson.
Absolutely, positively, completely and utterly the wrong choice – Stone was good in La La Land but Huppert was in a league of her own. Stone, though, was humble in her acceptance, and it was a popular result. Presented by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Arrival – Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, David Linde
Fences – Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, Todd Black
Hacksaw Ridge – Bill Mechanic, David Permut
Hell or High Water – Carla Hacken, Julie Yorn
Hidden Figures – Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, Theodore Melfi
La La Land – Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt
Lion – Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Angie Fielder
Manchester by the Sea – Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin J. Walsh
Moonlight – Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
The evening ended with a complete cock-up as the award was first awarded to La La Land, and appeared to be the result of a mistake with the envelopes (or senility in Warren Beatty – we may never know). For many a great result, but if any movie has to beat La La Land then Moonlight isn’t a bad alternative. Presented by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
And so, despite the controversy on the last award, La La Land was the evening’s overall winner with six Oscars. Moonlight‘s win for Best Film was well deserved, and the variety of winners was encouraging. The show was as slickly produced as ever, and Jimmy Kimmel’s ongoing war of attrition with Matt Damon provided some good laughs, but the undoubted highlight was provided not by Kimmel, or any of the stars, but by Gary from Chicago, a future celebrity in the making.