The Highs & Lows of the Oscars 2017

, Monday, 27 February 2017 22:56 Written by 

The 89th Academy Awards provided a night of few real shocks and not many memorable moments until a stunning last minute twist that instantly made it one of the most memorable Oscars telecasts of all time. People will be talking about that envelope snafu for years to come. You can check out a list of the night's winners here, but check out the highs and lows of a typically up-and-down ceremony below... 

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High: Jimmy Kimmell

The role of Oscars host is a thankless one, a difficult and specific job that’s almost impossible to get completely right. Jimmy Kimmell didn’t sound like a particularly exciting prospect, presumably chosen as a safe pair of hands who was going to steer us through a politically charged night in the Kodiak Theatre. While his jokes didn’t always land, Kimmell proved to be a solid host with some good material, whether it be the pre-scripted segments or when he had to think on his feet a little bit. All in all, he was a good host who handled a difficult evening well and will no doubt be back.

 

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Low: The Star Tours bit

While Kimmell did a good job and a lot of his bits worked, particularly his Mean Tweets segment - which included a white-hot Miles Teller burn - and the revival of his long-running comedy feud with Matt Damon, Kimmell did as most recent Oscars hosts have done and set up a running gag that takes up a ton of time in an already bloated show. Midway through the show, Kimmell brought in a Star Tours bus full of tourists who supposedly had no idea they were coming to the Oscars and paraded them in front of the stars. It was awkward, it was condescending and yes, it was often very funny, but above all it was too long and not really worth it. In an almost four-hour ceremony, this is the kind of thing that’s easily cut.

 

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High/Low: The musical performances

It was a nice surprise to open the show with Justin Timberlake emerging from backstage, through the crowd and up to the stage, performing his hit song Can’t Stop the Feeling from the movie Trolls, opening the show on an energetic and upbeat note. There was also a knockout performance by Auli’i Carvalho, the 16 year-old star of Moana who belted out that film’s nominated song, How Far I’ll Go with the conviction of a genuine star in the making. But things went downhill from there, with a dull performance from Sting (of his nominated song from the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story) and John Legend not quite pulling off a medley of City of Stars and Audition, the songs nominated from La La Land. They missed a trick with these nominees: imagine the Sing Street kids up there performing Drive it Like You Stole It or The Lonely Island doing any one of the songs from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping?

 

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High: The presenters

Getting the right presenters can liven up a stodgy ceremony at the right moments and other than a couple of doomed exceptions (more on that later), the producers chose well last night. Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, Michael J Fox, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and John Cho all had memorable moments up there and Dwayne Johnson showed in a matter of seconds why he would be such a great host in his brief but fun introduction of Auli’i Carvalho’s performance. The highlight however was Katherine Johnson, the 98 year-old former NASA mathematician and subject of Hidden Figures, who was brought on stage by her on screen counterpart Taraji P. Henson and received a standing ovation. 

 

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High: Viola Davis

Though it’s disappointing that Davis campaigned in the supporting category when she may well have won in lead instead, she is one of the best actors working today and she now has an Oscar! On top of that, she gave the speech of the night: a powerful, heartfelt ode to “exhuming and exalting” the stories of ordinary people. The love in the room for Viola was evident and the producers thankfully let her speech run long, declining to play her off as they might have done in previous years. In an awards season where memorably, impassioned speeches have become huge cultural moments, the Oscars was a surprisingly subdued affair where Viola’s speech was the only real standout.

 

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High/Low: Moonlight’s shock win

Moonlight’s genuinely shocking Best Picture win is notable for so many reasons. This is a film that cost $1.5 million to make and focuses on the life of a gay black man from Miami, which isn’t exactly a story that’s told very often. It also upset La La Land, a film that has absolutely dominated awards season, scooping up major awards everywhere it went on its way to fourteen nominations and six wins before the Best Picture gong was awarded. While that would be a surprising win under any normal circumstances, that was all completely overshadowed when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope and inadvertently announced La La Land as the winner, with the mistake only being corrected midway through the acceptance speeches. This made for great TV, enlivening an otherwise fairly standard, borderline sleepy Oscars ceremony with an incredible twist ending but it’s undeniably sad for the team behind La La Land to have to go through that journey from elation to humiliation, and also for the Moonlight crew, whose amazing achievement was overshadowed by an easily avoidable error.

More in this category: « Oscar Winners 2017

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