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A Plot and Theme Play-by-Play at the 90th Oscars

As promised, here is a quick, play-by-play style recap of last night’s 90th Oscars (AKA: 90 Scars). I’ll comment throughout now that it is the next morning, and I will finish it all up with a neat and tidy summary so that we can all move along with our lives in a timely fashion.

I started a stopwatch so I wouldn’t have to keep looking at the clock, plus I don’t really understand time zones too well. So, these are the things that happened and the way I felt about them . . .

0:00 – I dig the retro opening with the historical footage and also the black and white shots from today. Pushing history (the good parts of the history) is a real good way to diffuse all the harassment and equality issues surrounding these Oscars.

2:30 – Jimmy finally starts talking, I loved the accountants joke. Cal-Cu-Later!

4:00 – The Oscars is 90, but I still think they needed to work a little harder on the logo. Fox News joke #1. Harassment jokes #1 and #2 hit pretty good.

5:00 – Harvey Weinstein “jokes” were okay, but pretty damn awkward. I bet some people in the audience were cheering or hissing or booing (you know, heckling in general) because Jimmy looked a little interrupted. I don’t know exactly what you wanted from him here, this isn’t exactly the easiest year to joke about stuff, so I think they are going a little tame with the “kicked out of the academy” premise. I’m sure they wanted to go tougher.

8:00 – The trip around the room was fun and casual. Past hosts have been a little more pointed with their barbs. This one seemed focused more around lighthearted pokes.  Probably a good choice given all the ass-grabbers and rapists wandering around Hollywood nowadays.

12:40 – Helen Mirren and the shortest speech schtick might work out. We’ll see.

13:50 – Montage of the best supporting actors was awesome! I hope they do this for lots of the bigger ones. Really playing up the history angle tonight, which works well for me because I have seen most of these movies and recognize the performances and that fills the emptiness inside of me and makes me feel superior to others watching.

14:30 – Viola Davis in an awesome dress.

17:45 – First award of the night, Best Supporting Actor goes to Sam Rockwell. Cool! Sam Rockwell has always been a king, I am happy to see him take it home. HE THANKED ME, I’ve seen a Billboard! Solid speech, but he’s got no chance for that Jetski. What rotten luck.

21:15 – Let’s see how this Mary Poppins thing goes. Hop online for the teaser? Maybe Disney’s a little strapped for cash.

24:00 – “Get Out” joke lands. Also, was extremely lingering and awkward, which is a solid distillation of the comedy style of Get Out. Nice.

26:00 – Make-up to Darkest Hour, pretty easy prediction there. Oldman looked awesome, and it was the only movie that anyone actually saw.

27:45 – Pretty cool presenter for the costume design. It looks like they’re really playing up the history angle, which is a great choice. Wonderful anecdotes and other stuff. It took some time, but if you’re not into sweet stories about movies then why are you watching in the first place?

31:15 – And the Oscar to Phantom Thread. Entirely deserved, the dresses and clothes in this film were sumptuous. Strong costumes this year. First serious Jetski volley.

37:00 – Jimmy back, commercials are pretty long. Greta Gerwig and Laura Dern for Documentary feature, which is pretty cool. Icarus wins, because fuck you Russia. You can watch it on Netflix right now if you want to.

42:10 – Jimmy in the audience, to intro Taraji P. Hendersen to intro Mary J. Blige.

46:15 – “Mighty River” was pretty sweet, and a strong performance. More commercials, though. Oh, they’ll even try to jam the Galaxy S9 down our throats three times before even going to the actual commercial. Also, there’s two different commercials for the phone. Neat.

52:00 – Kubrick sighting in the 90 Years montage. I do love the Oscars and all, but there’s a great counter-example proving that they are only a small part of the total estimation of a film’s quality (or an actor’s, or director’s, or whatever). Kubrick won a single Oscar, for the visual effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and yet he is one of the most prolific directors of all time and created a half dozen absolute masterpieces. Still, this is a strong montage.

57:00 – We’re starting to slog through the sound categories now. These movies are all awesome, though, so it helps to hear all the things they did well. Dunkirk wins for sound editing, which definitely feels okay.

59:30 – Sound mixing time. Nobody knows the difference between mixing and editing anyways, so let’s just give it to Dunkirk again.

1:02:40 – Still pushing Samsung, this time with the tablet. Oh, and now for some short films from Walmart.

1:09:10 – Could the transition from “We’re dreamers too!” to “and the nominees for production design are . . .” have been more awkward and forced? Was that some kind of intentional non-sequitur humor?

1:10:10 – Shape of Water takes home its first for production design. There certainly was some cool stuff in that flick. Three terse speeches, too. Can they share the Jetski?

1:12:20 – Yay, time for the Coco song! Lots of fun with this performance, and great color and presentation.

1:21:30 – Rita Moreno is a Godamn National Treasure. If you aren’t watching One Day at a Time on Netflix, you really should be. Yes, it is sitcommy as all hell, kitsche, and a little broad, but it’s got a peculiar way to zero in on the feels without warning. I didn’t see any of these foreign films this year, which is a bummer (I usually average about 2/5), but I have had some on my radar because they did well at Cannes (The Square and Loveless).

1:25:10 – Another awesome montage. I fuckin’ love these montages, very easily the best choice of the production (so far).

1:26:20 – I would like one tenth of Mahershala Ali’s awesome, please. I’d be set for life.

1:29:00 – Oscar to Allison Janey! Character actors are cleaning up tonight! Did you hear the ovation she got? These people know a grinder when they see one, and Allison Janey definitely has put strong work in. It’s nice to see her rewarded. She’s pretty funny, too. “I did it all myself” + Mic Drop would have clinched the Jetski and luxurious Arizona lake vacation. Oh well . . .

1:35:30 – Go little Jimmy. Go BB-8.

1:38:30 – The Mamba is an Oscar Winner, as announced by Luke Skywalker.

1:40:30 – Viva Latin America! Coco! Obvious favorite is obvious, but Pixar is tough to beat when on the top of their game.

1:44:00 – “Mystery of Love” is really good, and two different versions bookend Call Me by Your Name, an absolutely beautiful film. I’d love to see this song take it home.

1:50:40 – More Kubrick love, this time with The Shining.

1:52:45 – YES, Blade Runner 2049 love. The movie was a revelation from a visual standpoint. I hope this is a harbinger of Roger Deakins for cinematography . . .

1:54:30 – Oh, so I guess they are playing people off. It seems like these two-minute montages are adding up . . .

1:56:20 – Dunkirk is starting to rack up some important technical awards, including the big daddy of the technicals: editing. The fact that it took this over Shape of Water and Three Billboards could be a bit of an upset predictor. Could Dunkirk really win Best Picture?

2:00:00 – People really shat on Jimmy for the “regular person” crowd work last year. All the usual stuff: it took up time, wasn’t really funny, kind of awkward. But, I think these little stunts give the show a lighter feel, a little more fun and randomness. It seems completely possible that it is entirely a set-up (I mean, who goes to see a screening of A Wrinkle in Time during the Oscars, across the street from the Oscars? It’s no Ellen Selfie, but it’s a good move. Let’s see how it goes.

2:08:45 – Jeez, it’s a good thing Mike isn’t illiterate. Talk about being put on the spot. This one worked out worse than last year’s. I’d guess this is going to be a real target for ire and joke-making.

2:11:20 – Maya Rudolph and Tiffany Haddish are AWESOME. Best presenters so far, with solid rapport, good timing, and excellent delivery of great jokes.

2:19:00 – Common is a cool cat, and his opening lines were sick, but this is not a particularly great song. Kinda pandering and simple.

2:30:00 – I liked the piece on inclusion, outreach, whatever you want to call it with the testimonials from some very cool people who made excellent films this year and last. I think Kumail nailed it: you can relate to people that don’t look like you. Movies, especially good ones, can help you do that. And, when it happens, it’s awesome.

2:31:10 – Adapted Screenplay time. I’d love Logan or Call Me By Your Name. Could two movies be more different and be in the same category? Jeez. Margot says that Call Me By Your Name wins! That’s fantastic. This movie was beautiful, and the writing was a big part of the draw. Michael Stuhlbarg’s speech at the end might have been enough to win this award. And this speech is top-notch. A-Plus!

2:35:40 – Time for Original Screenplay, my favorite collection of films nominated together tonight. The winner here has an inside track for Director or Picture. Jordan Peele! Holy shit. This is awesome. This is like Diablo Cody only way, way cooler (and I really like Juno). I hope we see him again in a few minutes . . .

2:43:00 – Oh, I am going to dig this War Film montage . . .

2:45:00 – I did not.

2:45:45 – Solid Matt Damon joke.

2:47:30 – Let’s go Cinematography. Get Roger Deakins his damn award. Yes! Lucky #13.

2:50:30 – Last song. Great voice on this one, some real power behind it. Almost all of the presentations of these songs involved revealing extra dancers/participants behind the main singer (except for the Call Me By Your Name song). This is definitely the liveliest and most forward song, easiest to see as a pop hit. And, probably the best performance on stage. I’d give it to these people (or, the CMBYN folk).

2:53:15 – A tribute performance by Eddie Vedder coming up? You know, he and Tom Petty were really close. Am I about to get a Tom Petty song over the In Memoriam montage? I don’t know if I can handle that . . .

2:59:10 – Shape of Water taking home music. I definitely dig that.
3:02:20 – Los Latinos are cleaning up tonight. Yay Coco! It is starting to feel like a Del Toro kind of night . . .

3:06:00 – I thought maybe “Wildflowers”.  See:

I did not think I’d get “Room at the Top”. I am a happy Derek. Sad, but happy.

3:13:00 – “Four Men and Greta Gerwig” is a sick line. There’s no disappointing winner here. Fuck it; let’s go for Jordan or Guillermo! Woo! Fourth time is the charm. Get those monkeys gone for good! That was an absurd speech, too. Erase the lines in the sand.

3:18:45 – Gotta love those montages. They obviously can’t do it every year, but I’ve enjoyed it this year. This is another category where any winner is a good winner. So, who we got? YEAH, Gary Oldman. I told you it was a night for Character Actors! Frances McDormand is basically a shoe-in now, right? Long live Gary Oldman.

3:29:00 – Quite a pair for the Best Actress in a Leading Role presentation. Jody Foster is as good as they come, and Jennifer Lawrence has a very similar trajectory. Can we get her away from David O. Russell?

3:33:33 – Frances McDormand. Yes.

3:36:20 – Frances McDormand. Wow.

3:36:40 – Good Best Picture envelope joke.

3:39:20 – We’re not getting to 4 hours, but these jokes about last year are still pretty good.

3:45:00 – Big Tamale . . . The Shape of Water. I don’t know if this is real life. Amazing. The power of parables.

So that was the 90th Oscars. It almost got to four hours long. One wonders what would have happened without the incentive to win a Jetski. At the end of the night, I don’t know if there is too much for people to be angry about. I think people might point to Best Supporting Actress for Allison Janey as a bit of a misstep (especially when compared to Laurie Metcalf and Leslie Manfield), but that’s a minor nitpick at best because Janey crushed her performance. It’s a little disappointing to see Lady Bird go home empty-handed, but sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometimes Jordan Peele destroys the world. Sometimes Frances McDormand makes a dark comedy. Sometimes a Jolly Mexican spins a yarn about a fish man and directs the hell out of it. Not much you can do, really.

Highlights of the night for me (besides the awards): The 90 years montage, the Inclusion piece, and Eddie Vedder’s Tom Petty Tribute / In Memoriam. It says a lot about Petty that his presence felt appropriate there even though he was not even close to a prolific actor or movie-maker (he did a lot of pioneering in music videos, obviously, but so did a lot of folk during the 70’s and 80’s).

Award highlights for me: Roger Deakins finally getting his Oscar on the 13th try is pretty hard to beat. Jordan Peele for writing is pretty amazing too, though. And, we also have Del Toro grabbing Director and Picture in the same night, and Frances with a strong display of solidarity.

This was a good year for film, and a good Oscars.


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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

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