As celebrities file into party spaces across Los Angeles, the 90th Oscars are finally a memory. “The Shape of Water” walked away with top honors and three Oscars besides. “Dunkirk” came in behind with three itself, while “Blade Runner 2049,” “Coco,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” each claimed a pair. With the dust barely settling, here are a few instant takeaways from the evening.
Maybe it leans more fantasy for some, but “The Shape of Water” could arguably get an interesting designation here: The first-ever science-fiction film to win best picture. If so, it wasn’t Stanley Kubrick, nor Ridley Scott — it was Guillermo del Toro. Count it as yet another glass ceiling broken in 2017. Genre bias appears to be melting away more and more in the modern Oscars era (post-2008). Now, finally, a major victor for the form.
Always look to Frances McDormand for your Oscars moment
Of course it would be “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” star Frances McDormand who would snare inevitable headlines with a big Oscars moment. Calling on all the nominated women in the room to stand, she provided a visual for industry inclusion and equality efforts on Hollywood’s biggest night. Turn to these women to help them tell their stories. That was her message. That and a strong suggestion to those with power to help make this a reality: “Inclusion rider.”
Give it up for Universal Pictures
Seriously, the effort to keep “Get Out” present and top of mind this season was Herculean. The movie could have easily faded away as “just” a critically laureled genre film that everyone says deserved an Oscar. Well, it got one, and while there was certainly a lot of hope held out for a best picture stunner, Jordan Peele’s original screenplay prize is a huge, huge get, along with the major nominations the studio secured.
Roger Deakins is finally an Oscar winner!!
That deserves exclamation points. I guess the 14th time was the charm for cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has been passed over for films like “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “Skyfall” over the decades. I don’t think any of his fellow nominees would have wanted to take it from him, this or any other year. But there he stood, an Academy Award in hand, the most revered wielder of light working today, finally in the club. It’s about damn time.
Things are getting a little predictable
Outside the best picture category, that is, which continues to be a question mark on years like this thanks to the preferential ballot. But with the British Academy switching five years ago to a system that mirrors the American Academy’s, many of the craft Oscar fields have begun to easily track. (Though there was admittedly one hiccup this year when “Baby Driver” failed to double up its editing win.) That, along with the already interminable nature of a season that sort of solidifies contenders throughout the end of the year, has somewhat rendered unexpected below-the-line wins a rarity of late. That having been said…
The shorts categories remain a crap shoot
There still just isn’t much of a compass to follow when it comes to guessing these categories, particularly now that all voters have access to seeing them and voting. Sometimes the biggest campaign wins out, but while Netflix was able to secure a win for “The White Helmets” last year, the streamer came up short this time (all the while claiming its first feature Oscar, for documentary feature “Icarus”). It’s generally best to go with your gut when predicting here, but that can steer you wrong as well. There are no answers. Still. That’s what we’re saying.
Enough dazzling the little people with your celebrity
And finally, a note on the show itself. Overall, Jimmy Kimmel has been a great emcee for these festivities and maybe even one worth locking in long-term. But this apparently annual bit of surprising regular folks — this time interrupting a screening of “A Wrinkle in Time” across the street (nice marketing Disney/ABC) — with stars and celebs reads a little weird. And tossing hot dogs to them like caged animals? Yikes, guys…