Highlights from the 2018 Oscars

The 2018 Awards Season came to a close with the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood’s Dolby. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for the second year in a row, the grand ceremony was just as socially outspoken as the entire awards circuit has been this year. Here are the highlights from the 2018 Oscars.

Celebrating 90 years of dreams, artistry, and appreciation, the Oscar Awards shattered a handful of ceilings and made some Oscars history with some of the nominees in this milestone year. Mudbound‘s Rachel Morrison is the first female ever nominated in the Best Cinematography category. Lady Bird’s Greta Gerwig is the fifth women ever nominated for Best Director, along with a Best Original Screenplay nomination for her directing and writing debut. Also recognized for his director’s debut was Jordan Peele, nominated for directing, producing, AND writing Get Out, making him the first African-American to do so. A range of generations were represented among the recognized actors, with Best Actor nominees Timothee Chalamat (Call Me By Your Name) being the youngest at 22 and Christopher Plummer (All The Money In The World) being the oldest at 88.

In his opening monologue, Jimmy Kimmel urged the award winners to use their platform to speak about equal rights, equal treatment, and equal representation, and the audience to listen to the brave supporters of today’s social movements for positive change. That said, he was determined to keep the intended three hour broadcast running as tightly on schedule as possible. In an effort to encourage award winners not to go overtime with their speeches, Kimmel offered a prize for shortest speech – a jet ski modelled The Price is Right-style by Helen Mirren. Alternatively, Kimmel threatened to bring out Get Out actor Lakeith Stanfield on stage to tell people ‘get out!’ if they went too long. The bit made for a funny running joke, which unfortunately wasn’t taken very seriously by the night’s winners as they continued onwards with their lengthy speeches. Kimmel used up even more precious time by surprising unsuspecting movie-goers at a film screening of A Wrinkle in Time at the TCL theatre next door by bringing Ansel Elgort, Mark Hamill, Guillermo del Toro, Emily Blunt, Gal Gadot, Lupita Nyong’o, Armie Hammer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Margot Robbie over to meet and greet with the movie supporters. In total, the awards ceremony ended up running 45 minutes overtime. In the end, it was Costume Design winner Mark Bridges (for Phantom Thread) who ended up winning the jet ski prize and proudly rode on top of his new ride with Helen Mirren at the end of the ceremony.

A few of the standout presenters included Hollywood icon Rita Moreno, who made headlines on the red carpet for taking vintage to the next level by wearing the same dress she wore in 1962 when she won the Oscar for West Side Story. Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani pledged their support for their fellow dreamers – the embodiments of the American Dream. The cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Mark Hamill, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac, and BB-8 charmed and delighted with their appearance. Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph made a strong case for next year’s hosting duties with their hilarious banter about how there’s no shortage of white people at the Oscars, both on stage and behind the stage.

In the technical awards, the sound category was dominated by Dunkirk, winning for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, as well as winning for Best Film Editing. Best Visual Effects went to Blade Runner 2049, which was also recognized for Best Cinematography.

Historical wins were given in the screenplay categories. Best Adapted Screenplay went to Call Me By Your Name’s James Ivory, who at 89 years old is the oldest Academy Award winner ever. Best Original Screenplay went to Get Out, making writer, director, and producer Jordan Peele the first African-American screenwriter to win the category in Oscar history.

The Oscars attendees and viewers were treated to five marvelous musical performances of the Best Original Song nominees. Sufjan Stevens performed the tender “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name, with St. Vincent on stage as backing support. Mary J. Blige performed her song “Mighty River” from Mudbound with a rousing gospel choir, making for a powerful vocal performance.

In their riveting performance of “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall, Common and Andra Day made a statement for peace, love, and women’s rights with the help of a group of activists representing movements such as Planned Parenthood, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo. Broadway’s Keala Settle delivered a passionate and emotional powerhouse performance of “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman. Ultimately, the Best Original Song award went to “Remember Me”, sung by Gael Garcia Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia LaFourcade in a duel heartfelt acoustic guitar performance and a vivacious Dios de Los Muertos honouring performance from the Disney/Pixar film Coco, which also won Best Animated Feature Film.

There were no surprises in the acting categories, as the favoured winners throughout the awards season went on to claim the greatest award achievable. Best Supporting Actress went to Allison Janney for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s mother in I, Tonya. Best Actor went to Gary Oldman for his turn as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. The film also won for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, highlighting the remarkable physical transformation of Oldman into Churchill.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri picked up two acting awards for two of its finest performers, including Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell. Best Actress went to Frances McDormand, who delivered the most memorable acceptance speech when she called for the evening’s female nominees to stand up with her. It was much needed moment of solidarity among the women in the room, considering how once again this awards season, despite the growth of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, women in entertainment are still not treated as equals to their male colleagues in the industry. As this year’s Academy Awards proven, female fronted and driven projects continue to get snubbed, including Director/Screenwriter Greta Gerwig and Actress Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird and Director/Screenwriter Dee Rees and Cinematographer Rachel Morrison for Mudbound. Despite the Academy verbally agreeing on the need for equality, they continue to fail to walk the talk. As an actionable next step, McDormand urged artists in the industry look into inclusion riders to demand diversity in the cast and the crew of the film projects they take part in.

The biggest winner of the night was The Shape of Water, which had the most nominations with 13 categories, picking up a total of 4 wins for Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Director for Guillermo Del Toro, and the coveted Best Picture.

Returning back for their presenter comeback after last year’s envelope mix-up fiasco, Bonnie and Clyde‘s Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway once again announced the Best Picture winner and this time, got it right the first time. The Shape of Water is the first sci-fi film to win the award, and the gracious del Toro hopes that the success of his magically outlandish and thought-provoking film will be an inspiration for others: “This is a door. kick it open and come in.’ For all of the creative trailblazers out there who wish to initiate conversations about equality, diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality through film and storytelling, there’s no better time than now to start.

Featured image by Kevin Winter / Getty Images
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