“This is a special year...these are the 90th Academy Awards. This is history happening right here,” host Jimmy Kimmel declared as members of the film fraternity cheered him on during the Oscars ceremony at Los Angeles’s Dolby Theatre on Sunday.
History was made in more ways than one at Hollywood’s biggest night, which capped a politically charged awards season against the backdrop of a series of sexual harassment scandals, starting with the revelations against producer Harvey Weinstein last year. Women’s empowerment, inclusiveness and equal representation were invoked numerous times during the ceremony.
Kimmel, who was hosting the ceremony for the second year, began his speech with a partly self-deprecating joke about last year’s erroneous envelope mix-up, when La La Land was declared Best Picture instead of the actual winner, Moonlight.
The host’s 11-minute monologue covered everything from the usual suspects – American President Donald Trump and Weinstein – to the various kinds of prejudices in Hollywood. “But what happened with Harvey [Weinstein] and what’s happening all over, was long overdue,” Kimmel said. “We can’t let bad behaviour slide anymore. The world is watching us.”
While Kimmel drew a lot of fans for his satirical commentary, there were a few who were not as pleased.
Twitter also had suggestions for next year’s host. Comediennes Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph emerged as top contenders after their tongue-in-cheek humour while presenting at Sunday’s ceremony. “Are the Oscars too black now,” Haddish asked. “Don’t worry, there are so many more white people to come,” Rudolph joked.
Many of the key moments at this year’s Oscar ceremony were in keeping with the push towards inclusiveness. Jordan Peele became the first black screenwriter to win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for his horror-comedy film Get Out, starring Daniel Kaluuya.
“This means so much to me. I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible,” Peele said in his speech. “I thought it wasn’t gonna work, I thought no one would ever make this movie, but I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone let me make this movie, then people would hear it and people would see it.”
American filmmaker James Ivory, 89, became the oldest Oscar winner after he bagged Best Adapted Screenplay for Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. “Whether straight or gay or somewhere in between, we’ve all gone through first love, I hope, mostly intact,” Ivory said in his acceptance speech.
Ivory’s screenplay is based on Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name, about a summer romance between 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old Oliver, played by Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in the movie.
The fan favourite speech of the night was by Allison Janney. “I did it all by myself,” the first-time Oscar winner joked while accepting the award for best actress in a supporting role for I Tonya. Janney plays the abusive and pushy mother of a champion figure skater in Craig Gillespie’s biopic on Tonya Harding.
History was also created when Daniela Vega became the first openly transgender woman to present an Oscar. Vega has headlined Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, which went on to win the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
One of the most powerful moments at the ceremony came during Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech for the Oscar for best actress in a leading role. McDormand, who won for her performance in Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, urged all female nominees to stand up in solidarity for women in the industry. She then left viewers confused when she ended her speech with the words “inclusion rider” – later revealed to be a reference to a clause actors can put in their contracts to insist on race and gender diversity.
Another highlight of the event came when Star Wars actor Mark Hamill (who plays Luke Skywalker in the franchise) shared a moment with Wonder Woman headliner Gal Gadot when Kimmel took a few actors along to a nearby theatre to surprise moviegoers.
The biggest winner of the night was Guillermo Del Toro’s Shape of Water, which won best picture as well as best director. “Everyone that is dreaming of using fantasy to tell the stories about things that are real in the world today, you can do it,” del Toro said. “This is the door. Kick it open and come in.”
Lee Unkrich’s Coco won best animated feature.
Indian viewers had their moment of glory when Hindi cinema legends Shashi Kapoor and Sridevi were mentioned in the In Memoriam section, alongside Roger Moore, Martin Landau, Harry Dean Stanton, Sam Shepard, Jeanne Moreau and John Heard.
Meanwhile, the awards night fashion also got Twitter talking.
Shane Vieau’s work as the production designer of Shape Of Water won the film an Oscar in that category, but his suit did not impress some social media users.
The much adored Maya Rudolph was not spared either.
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