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2018 Oscars analysis: More diversity, fewer surprises

By Katie Walsh • Mar 5, 2018 at 10:23 AM

After the extremely eventful 2017 Oscars, this year’s 90th Academy Awards seemed downright tame in comparison. There were no missteps or embarrassments, and very few surprises.

Hosted for the second year in a row by Jimmy Kimmel, the night was a tame ending to a roller coaster of a fall/winter awards season in Hollywood, which was rocked by the exposure and ousting of serial sexual harassers and assaulters in the industry, launching the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

#TimesUp was the focal point of the Golden Globes in January, with almost every attendee clad in black as a show of support and solidarity with the movement. It was a topic of discussion at Sunday’s Academy Awards, but it didn’t dominate the conversation. Kimmel respectfully addressed the movements in his opening monologue, and three of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers — Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek — spoke passionately about the changes in Hollywood and presented a video montage of filmmakers discussing the importance of representation and inclusivity in the industry. But #TimesUp didn’t dominate the conversation at the Oscars.

In his opening monologue, Kimmel acknowledged the best picture envelope mix-up of the 2017 Academy Awards, wherein “La La Land” was mistakenly announced before “Moonlight” was announced as the true winner. Kimmel kept things lighthearted but addressed the issues that consumed Hollywood in the past year, as well as the #NeverAgain movement started by the student survivors of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February.

Kimmel also brought his everyman sensibility and humor to the night, keeping up a running gag of offering the Oscar winner with the shortest acceptance speech “The Price is Right” style prizes, including a jet ski and trip to Lake Havasu. Dame Helen Mirren served as a “Price is Right” beauty showing off the goods. He also couldn’t resist surprising a few civilians, this time taking stars to hand out snacks at a screening of “A Wrinkle In Time” at the TCL Chinese Theater near the Dolby Theater, where the Oscars are held.

Representation was the theme of the night, especially Latino representation. Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was the big winner of the evening — his horror/fantasy romance “The Shape of Water” won four prizes out of its 13 nominations, including best director and best picture. Del Toro’s win proves three is a trend, as Mexican filmmakers have walked away with four of the best director prizes in the past five years (Alejandro González Iñárritu won in 2014 and 2015 for “Birdman” and “The Revenant” respectively, while Alfonso Cuarón won for “Gravity” in 2013).

“The Shape of Water” composer Alexandre Desplat won his second Oscar for his work on the film, and said of del Toro: “He brings everybody in his team together behind him like a king with his knights,” and described it as “a rare, beautiful experience.”

With del Toro’s wins and Jordan Peele’s best original screenplay win for “Get Out,” his searing social commentary about race in America packaged in the horror-comedy genre, it was a landmark year for genre filmmaking. It’s normally eschewed by the Academy, who tend to go for more classic and prestigious fare. With a push to include younger, more diverse members among its ranks, we may be seeing the results of that initiative in the awards themselves.

It was a victorious night for Latin American filmmakers, with Disney’s Day of the Dead-themed “Coco,” co-directed by Mexican American director Adrian Molina, taking home the best animated feature award and the best song award for “Remember Me,” by “Frozen” songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. “Representation matters,” “Coco” co-director Lee Unkrich reminded the audience during his acceptance speech.

Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio won the best foreign language film Oscar for his film “A Fantastic Woman,” starring trans actress Daniela Vega. Vega presented best song nominee Sufjan Stevens’ performance of “Mystery of Love” from best picture nominee “Call Me By Your Name,” becoming the first openly transgender presenter at the Academy Awards.

Backstage, Lelio spoke about the importance of casting a transgender actress in the role of Marina, a transgender woman, in his film. Of Vega, he said, “she was a pioneer, and she carries that history, and the camera announced that. And I think that generates more complexity and beauty to the film… it can contribute to opening the limits of what’s possible, expanding the horizons of our thinking.”

He also addressed the situation of transgender rights in Chile, saying, “It has been a long struggle to have the state recognizing the existence of transgender people… I hope this award and film and the awareness that the film has created, will give more relevance to a matter that is urgent.”

Roger Deakins finally won an Oscar for the cinematography of “Blade Runner 2049,” directed by Denis Villeneuve. The veteran cinematographer has been nominated for the Academy Award 14 times, and this was the first time he has taken home the prize. “I really love my job,” he said, accepting the award. “I’ve been doing it a long time as you can see.” He thanked his crew, some of whom he has been working with for 30 years, and said “I feel it’s recognition for their work as well.” He also reminisced about working with best actor winner Gary Oldman on the 1986 film “Sid and Nancy.”

However, as much as the story of representation and rights within the industry were at top of mind, especially thanks to the acceptance speech of best actress winner Frances McDormand, who urged the audience to consider “inclusion riders” in their contracts, requiring 50 percent diversity in cast and crew, there were also vestiges and reminders of Hollywood’s old ways and the issue of sexual assault and abuse, which still lingers.

Best actor winner Gary Oldman has weathered backlash this awards season for offensive comments he made in a 2014 Playboy interview in support of Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin, as well as reports about a 2001 domestic abuse allegation made by his ex-wife Donya Fiorentina. None of this discussion impacted his own awards run, though, as he won all the major industry awards for his performance as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” including the best actor Oscar.

Another Oscar winner with a sexual assault allegation in his past is former LA Laker Kobe Bryant, who became a best animated short Oscar winner tonight for his film “Dear Basketball.” The short is based on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his retirement from basketball, and he shared the award with Disney animator Glen Keane. An online petition protesting his nomination due to his 2003 rape accusation and civil settlement garnered 16,000 signatures, but nothing dampened Bryant’s winning chances or his evening. Backstage, he said of the award, “I feel better than winning the (NBA) championship, to be honest with you.”

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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The complete list of winners and nominees for the 90th Academy Awards

By Los Angeles Times staff (TNS)

“The Shape of Water” won Oscars for best picture and directing at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Frances McDormand and Gary Oldman won the lead acting awards. Guillermo del Toro — a frequent winner this awards season — took home the directing trophy. Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell won the supporting acting awards. Screenplay awards went to Jordan Peele for “Get Out” and James Ivory for “Call Me by Your Name.” “Dunkirk” won for sound editing, sound mixing and film editing.

Jimmy Kimmel returned as host for the ceremony held March 4 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Gary Oldman, winner

“Darkest Hour”

Denzel Washington

“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Timothée Chalamet

“Call Me by Your Name”

Daniel Day-Lewis

“Phantom Thread”

Daniel Kaluuya

“Get Out”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Sam Rockwell, winner

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Christopher Plummer

“All the Money in the World”

Woody Harrelson

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Willem Dafoe

“The Florida Project”

Richard Jenkins

“The Shape of Water”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Frances McDormand, winner

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Sally Hawkins

“The Shape of Water”

Meryl Streep

“The Post”

Margot Robbie

“I, Tonya”

Saoirse Ronan

“Lady Bird”

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Allison Janney, winner

“I, Tonya”

Mary J. Blige

“Mudbound”

Lesley Manville

“Phantom Thread”

Laurie Metcalf

“Lady Bird”

Octavia Spencer

“The Shape of Water”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

James Ivory, winner

“Call Me by Your Name”

Aaron Sorkin

“Molly’s Game”

Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

“Mudbound”

Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold

“Logan”

Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

“The Disaster Artist”

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

“Coco,” winner

“The Boss Baby”

“Ferdinand”

“The Breadwinner”

“Loving Vincent”

ANIMATED SHORT

“Dear Basketball,” winner

“Lou”

“Revolting Rhymes”

“Negative Space”

“Garden Party”

BEST PICTURE

“The Shape of Water,” winner

“Phantom Thread”

“Dunkirk”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

“Call Me by Your Name”

“Get Out”

“Lady Bird”

“The Post”

“Darkest Hour”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Roger Deakins, winner

“Blade Runner 2049”

Rachel Morrison

“Mudbound”

Hoyte van Hoytema

“Dunkirk”

Dan Laustsen

“The Shape of Water”

Bruno Delbonnel

“Darkest Hour”

COSTUME DESIGN

Mark Bridges, winner

“Phantom Thread”

Jacqueline Durran

“Beauty and the Beast”

Consolata Boyle

“Victoria & Abdul”

Luis Sequeira

“The Shape of Water”

Jacqueline Durran

“Darkest Hour”

DIRECTING

Guillermo del Toro, winner

“The Shape of Water”

Greta Gerwig

“Lady Bird”

Paul Thomas Anderson

“Phantom Thread”

Christopher Nolan

“Dunkirk”

Jordan Peele

“Get Out”

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“Icarus,” winner

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”

“Last Men in Aleppo”

“Faces Places”

“Strong Island”

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” winner

“Knife Skills”

“Traffic Stop”

“Edith+Eddie”

“Heroin(e)”

FILM EDITING

Lee Smith, winner

“Dunkirk”

Tatiana S. Riegel

“I, Tonya”

Jon Gregory

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Sidney Wolinsky

“The Shape of Water”

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos

“Baby Driver”

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

“A Fantastic Woman,” winner

“The Square”

“Loveless”

“On Body And Soul”

“The Insult”

LIVE-ACTION SHORT

“The Silent Child,” winner

“My Nephew Emmett”

“The Eleven O’Clock”

“DeKalb Elementary”

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick, winner

“Darkest Hour”

Arjen Tuiten

“Wonder”

Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard

“Victoria & Abdul”

ORIGINAL SCORE

Alexandre Desplat, winner

“The Shape of Water”

John Williams

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Jonny Greenwood

“Phantom Thread”

Carter Burwell

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Hans Zimmer

“Dunkirk”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Jordan Peele, winner

“Get Out”

Greta Gerwig

“Lady Bird”

Martin McDonagh

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

“The Big Sick”

Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro

“The Shape of Water”

ORIGINAL SONG

“Remember Me,” winner

Music: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez; Lyrics: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“Coco”

“This is Me”

Music: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“The Greatest Showman”

“Mighty River”

Music: Raphael Saadiq; Lyrics: Taura Stinson, Raphael Saadiq and Mary J. Blige

“Mudbound”

“Stand Up for Something”

Music: Diane Warren; Lyrics: Diane Warren and Common

“Marshall”

“Mystery of Love”

Music: Sufjan Stevens; Lyrics: Sufjan Stevens

“Call Me by Your Name”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Production Design: Paul D. Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin, winner

“The Shape of Water”

Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis

“Dunkirk”

Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

“Beauty and the Beast”

Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola

“Blade Runner 2049”

Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

“Darkest Hour”

SOUND EDITING

Richard King and Alex Gibson, winner

“Dunkirk”

Julian Slater

“Baby Driver”

Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira

“The Shape of Water”

Mark Mangini and Theo Green

“Blade Runner 2049”

SOUND MIXING

Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo Winner

“Dunkirk”

Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth

“Blade Runner 2049”

Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis

“Baby Driver”

David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Christian T. Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier

“The Shape of Water”

VISUAL EFFECTS

John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover Winner

“Blade Runner 2049”

Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus

“Kong: Skull Island”

Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist

“War For the Planet of the Apes”

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©2018 Los Angeles Times

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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