The historic mistake at the Oscars only capped a night of continuous errors and embarrassments.
By now if you have heard anything about last night’s Oscar ceremony you are aware of the debacle that transpired. Somehow during the announcement of the most important award (in their minds) they bungled the reading of the card announcing Best Picture. Mayhem and calamity ensued.
One takeaway to savor: We endured a night of lectures on the wrongheadedness of complex vetting of foreign travelers to this nation by a crowd that could not even hand off an envelope correctly. Sorry if I don’t swallow your messaging here, starlets.
And while that monumental gaffe will be referenced for generations it was one misstep in a night filled with self-centered bromides and error-prone activism. Even though the protest speeches were minimized against expectations the show was at times cringe-worthy, a slog, and ultimately a chuckle-inducing disaster.
The signs of trouble were there hours before show time. There was a major stage malfunction where set pieces came down. It tore a main curtain and destroyed a camera. But in true “the show must go on” spirit the show went on.
One unintentionally moving moment came during a commercial. In a one minute spot for Rolex watches the company celebrated its history of product-placement in film. One clip in the montage was from “Titanic”. It showed actor Bill Paxton, who had just had the announcement of his passing earlier that morning, hours before the ceremony.
It took little time for the political salvos to arrive. Host Jimmy Kimmel was not a minute into his opening monologue when he mentioned the show was being broadcast into “225 countries that now hate us!” I wasn’t aware Trump’s foreign policy had already accomplished this, but then I’m relying on Hollywood here for political accuracy. Always a mistake.
Overall Kimmel’s slings towards the President were relatively tame. While introducing the President of the Motion Picture Academy he mentioned, “Here’s something rare — a President who appreciates both art, and sciences.” Later, after the presentation of a cinematography honor, he made a side quip apologizing for Sweden. (Apparently Jimmy was unaware of the riots that actually took place therein.)
Among the acceptance speeches were a smattering of quixotic moments. An early speech made by a pair of Italian makeup artists mentioned immigration…I think. Their English was very fractured and they were hard to understand — and yet they still managed to make more sense than the script of “Suicide Squad”.
In one of the least surprising wins, The Iranian film “The Salesman” won Best Foreign Feature. This was directed by Asghar Farhadi, who chose to sit out the awards in protest of Donald Trump’s aggressive vetting of foreign travel. In his absence a speech was read that was penned by the director. He described Trump’s policy as “inhumane”. Then we were delivered this nugget: “Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories created fear.”
Such a quaint moment — Americans being lectured about human rights, from someone ensconced in the human-rights-violating enclave of Iran. I guess when Iran pledges to eradicate the state of Israel, they do not view them as an enemy? But, this would not be the Oscars if the air was not thick with obliviousness.
In accepting the award for his documentary, “OJ: Made In America”, Ezra Edelman dedicated the win to victims of police violence and police brutality, because a former NFL star killing his wife…is…well, I’m not really sure. (I probably need to watch all EIGHT HOURS of his documentary to understand.)
The documentary short film winner mentioned the subject of his movie, the longstanding war in Syria. “Stand up and remind them we all care … so that this war can end as quickly as possible.” Tellingly in a night filled with references to Trump he could not bring himself to invoke President Obama here, who oversaw (overlooked?) the atrocities portrayed in this film.
When presenting the award for Best Animated Film actor Gael Garcia Bernal took the moment to pontificate on immigration, of course. “I’m against any form of wall that wants to separate us,” he said receiving applause from many who live in mansions behind security fences and privacy walls. Bizarrely he also had declared that he is “a migrant worker”.
He travels to various countries to work on film sets. This makes him a migrant worker. Let that soak in for a moment.
Viola Davis gave the most emotional speech of the night. Though most was heartfelt and moving, she did utter something that led to head scratching: “We are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” That sure puts those snooty surgeons and oncologists in their place! I may be willing to listen to her point, if so many in Hollywood were not ardent supporters of abortion.
(Also, I know it is petty, but I find the “celebrate what it means to live a life” quote to be hilarious when delivered by the star of “How To Get Away With Murder”.)
To tie a bow on this damaged-in-shipment presentation we get the succinct vow from the Hollywood set, courtesy of Screenplay winner, Barry Jenkins: “For the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you!”
Considering the insufferable temper tantrum we have been subjected to by Hollywood since the election, I view this more as a threat.