Monday, February 27, 2017

Oscars Special Report

Oscars 2017: The Last Word
By Diane Clehane

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty

It seems only fitting that this year’s Oscar broadcast will be remembered for its shock ending as bleary-eyed viewers sat slack-jawed at home incredulous at the results of a hotly contested race.

You could say that Jimmy Kimmel hosted one of the most enjoyable Oscar shows in recent memory which ended with a moment that will go down in television history as the biggest award show jaw-dropper ever. On the flip side, the naysayers might bemoan that an otherwise flawless broadcast was marred by the biggest mistake ever made at the Academy Awards.

Either way, it made for the most unforgettable Oscars of all time.

Just how the hell did Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announce the wrong Best Picture winner? It turns out Beatty, who seemed confused and disoriented on stage, was holding the envelope for the Best Actress, not Best Picture winner. Dunaway announced the winner was La La Land before Beatty to stop her. But something was not right based on the chaos that erupted on stage – we just couldn’t tell what it was. After some confusion which brought a behind the scenes staffer and host Jimmy Kimmel to the stage in the middle of a La La Land producer’s acceptance speech, Beatty tried to explain the reason for the error saying he was given a card with Stone’s name on it, but later in the press room Emma Stone said she was holding the card that announced her Best Actress win. It seems there were duplicate envelopes. Where was the real envelope for Best Picture during all this? Whatever happened, you can bet someone got fired. And Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are destined to be remembered for something, I’m sure, they’d rather forget.

It’s a shame that the stunning error will overshadow a solid Oscar broadcast hosted by a sure-footed, savvy and affable Kimmel that showcased old and new Hollywood beautifully and used the tried-and-true clip packages to great effect.

Justin Timberlake opened the broadcast with a rousing performance of ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ singing and dancing his way into the Dolby Theater with a squadron of dancers. He got the audience smiling and up on their feet dancing along. When he made his way to the stage he sang one of his personal favorites, “Lovely Day.” The performance seemed to put the audience at ease – and that feeling of camaraderie over competition lasted throughout the evening.

The show was the perfect antidote to the unrelenting negativity most of us find ourselves coping with these days – but never let us forget what it was we were escaping from. Many presenters and winners wove their thoughts on the current political climate into their remarks, but none more so than the representative for Iranian director and Best Foreign Language Film winner Asghar Farahadi, who read a statement from the director that said, in part, “Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war.”

Even though it ran more than 40 minutes over, it was uplifting, entertaining (JT, you rocked it) and, at times, very, very funny. Kimmel was in top form and kept the proceedings brisk peppering his monologue with the expected political humor and bringing in some of his signature bits from his late night show. Two of my favorite Kimmel-driven bits scored big. Seeing stars read Mean Tweets was hilarious and watching star-struck ‘civilians,’ who thought they were on a tour of Hollywood, get ushered into the theater to meet the celebrities in the front row was a terrific feel-good moment. Recurring jokes about his “feud” with Matt Damon never got old.

Brie Larson

The red carpet was also a pleasant surprise. Even though there was no runaway fashion winner, there was plenty of great looking – and elegant --looks to go around. My best dressed honors go to Brie Larson who wore a gorgeous black flamenco-inspired gown by Oscar de la Renta. Kirsten Dunst in breathtaking black Dior gown was a very close second.

Nicole Kidman

I thought golden girls Emma Stone in Givenchy and Nicole Kidman in Armani Prive looked the best they have in ages. Jessica Biel looked like a very expensive Oscar statuette in her gilded KaufmanFranco gown (but she didn’t need the Tiffany necklace).

Viola Davis

White looked right on Karlie Kloss (although I’m not sure what she was doing there) who wore a chic column with an attached cape by Stella McCartney. Hailee Steinfield looked young and fresh in a sheer Ralph & Russo chiffon confection. Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis was a stand-out in red Armani. I’m sure there are plenty of fashionistas who thought Janelle Monae’s Marie Antoinette-inspired Elie Saab was too much, but I liked it.

There weren’t the usual fashion disasters we’ve come to expect, but there were some disappointments (Leslie Mann in an overwrought ballgown by Zac Posen and Scarlett Johansson – bad hair!) but my worst dressed goes to Dakota Johnson in a gold Grandma Moses gown from Gucci that did absolutely nothing for her.

In the end, fashion seemed very much beside the point this year which seemed only fitting given the wealth of talent of every description being recognized. Here are my highlights from the unforgettable broadcast:

8:30 Justin Timberlake gets everyone on their feet (including the 11 year- in my living room) dancing down the aisle singing his Oscar nominated song, Can’t Stop This Feeling from Trolls. We’re off to a very promising start. Love it.

8:31 Jeff Bridges sighting!

8:34 The whole place is on its feet. Great job, JT.

8:35 “This broadcast is being seen by 225 countries that now hate us.” Kimmel’s first political joke of the night. He’s on a roll.

8:38 “I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when the Oscars seemed racist?”

8:40 “Manchester by the Sea: That was a fun movie, wasn’t it?”

8:45 “Please join me in giving Meryl Streep a totally undeserved round of applause. Meryl, will you please stand up? … The high overrated Meryl Streep … Nice dress -- is that an Ivanka?” We know it’s not Chanel.

Jimmy wraps up his monologue with this gem: “Some of you will come up on this stage and get to give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 am bowel movement tomorrow morning. That’s pretty darn excellent if you ask me.” The producers are already calling his agent to lock him in for next year.

8:40 Mahershala Ali wins Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight and gets standing ovation. “My grandma would want me to button up,” he says before thanking his wife who gave birth to their first child, a daughter four days ago. Who’s having a better week?

9:04 Wow. Rolex. That’s what I call a commercial.

9:08 Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer introduce former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, one of the women portrayed in Hidden Figures. She receives a rousing ovation from the crowd. The women present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature to the producers of ‘O.J. Made in America.’

9:13 Kimmel makes his only bad joke of the night about OJ Simpson

9:15 Is there anything Lin-Manuel Miranda can’t do?

9:18 Sixteen year-old Auli’i Cravalho sings ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana. Impressive.

9:22 Kimmel welcomes “a president that believes in arts and sciences” Motion Picture Academy president Cheryl Boone Issacs.

9:26  Little bags of Red Vines and Junior Mints parachute down from the ceiling. I wonder how much that cost that candy maker?

9:35 Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres and Pharrell Williams for The Love Project by Revlon. I am loving the commercials this year.

9:36 Mel Gibson seems to be enjoying his comeback and the licorice.

9:40 Mark Rylance presents the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to a very deserving Viola Davis. My daughter’s take: “She cries every time she gives a speech. No offense, it’s a little too much.”

9:56 After a clip of Charlize Theron talking about her admiration for Shirley MacLaine’s performance in The Apartment, both actresses appear on the stage together. “That’s the warmest reception I’ve gotten in 250,000 years,” quips MacLaine. A classic Oscar moment.

9:58 Iranian director Asghar Farahadi wins the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman. A statement from director, who chose not to be present to accept the award in protest of the travel ban, is read by Anousheh Ansari, an astronaut Iranian-American and the first female private space traveler, and receives a standing ovation.

10:00 Despite some strong protests, my 11 year-old co-reviewer is packed off to bed. I’ll take it from here.

10:10 Hailee Steinfeld (gorgeous and grown-up!) and Gael Garcia Bernal present the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. Before announcing the winner, Garcia Bernal says, “Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers … As a migrant work as a Latino American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I am against any form of wall that wants to separate us.” I’m sensing a theme here.

10:04 The New York Times reminds viewers “the truth is more important than ever.”

10:13 The usually gorgeous Dakota Johnson chose a very unfortunate hairstyle tonight and her Gucci dress looks like something you’d find in your grandmother’s attic.

10:14 LaLa Land’s gets its first Oscar of the night for Production Design.

10:15 Tonight’s broadcast is the best it’s been in years, but I fear I’ll still be sitting here come morning.

10:17 Kimmel welcomes a stunned group of tourists into the Dolby Theater. “Gary from Chicago” and his fiancée get Denzel Washington’s blessing, Jennifer Aniston gives them Justin Theroux’s sunglasses and Mahershala Ali gets up and takes a selfie with them and his Oscar. Someone is kissing Meryl Streep’s hand. Ryan Gosling shakes hands with pretty much every one of them. It’s a clever way to show how much we love Hollywood and vice versa. One of the best things I’ve seen on an Oscar broadcast in a long time. Charming.

10:24 Nicole Kidman for Neutrogena? These commercials are as good as the nominated films.

10:35 Seth Rogen and Michael J. Fox emerge from the Delorean from Back to the Future to present Best Film Editing. I love these surprise pairings.

10:37 Second Oscar for Hacksaw Ridge. I guess the backlash against Mel is officially over.

10:40 More candy from the sky.

10:53  Leslie Mann and John Cho somehow make explaining the Scientific and Technical Awards funny. “For the privacy of our film scientists, the press were barred from this event,” Cho deadpans.

10:45 The White Helmets wins the Best Documentary Short Subject. The filmmakers ask the audience to stand in recognition of the life-saving efforts by ‘The White Helmets’ and in solidarity to end the war in Syria. “To save one life is to save humanity,” says one of the winners. I am running out of tissues.

10:50 Jimmy Kimmel tweets Hey @realDonaldTrump you up? And then #Merylsays hi. Howling.

10:58 Matt Damon for Stella Artois. Maybe should add Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Commercial.

10:58 LaLa Land gets another one – Best Cinematography.

11:01 Mean Tweets with Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Robert DeNiro, Eddie Redmayne and others are killer. Kimmel is definitely coming back next year.

11:04 The new King and Queen of Hollywood Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone introduce John Legend to perform songs from the film.

11:12 Kimmel to Lin Manuel Miranda: “It’s weird to see you in a theater without paying $10,000.”

11:14 Best Original Score Oscar goes to La La Land, a film seemingly made by people who just graduated high school. How young are you people anyway?

11:16 Another group of 12 year olds win an Oscar for LaLa Land. One of them thanked his mother “for letting me quit the JCC Soccer League” so he could be a school musical.

11:19 Jennifer Aniston chokes up introducing the ‘In Memoriam’ segment acknowledging Bill Paxton, who died Saturday night from complications from surgery.

11:29 Ben Affleck and “guest” aka Matt Damon present the nominees for Best Original Screenplay while Kimmel, who has commandeered the orchestra pit, tries to play Damon off. Kenneth Lonergan wins for Manchester By the Sea. His simple eloquence in accepting his award explains perfectly why he is able to write so astutely about the human condition.

11:33 Va Va Voom, Amy Adams. Her dress (Tom Ford?) fits perfectly.

11:35 Moonlight wins Best Adapted Screenplay. I sense an upset for Best Picture.

11:36 Kimmel knows it’s getting late so he commands cookies and donuts rain down on the audience. How about serving some coffee?

11:41 Halle Berry, I hope that hair is for a role.

11:42 Damien Chazelle wins Best Director for La La Land. Do your parents know you’re up so late?

11:47 Brie Larson, in my favorite dress of the night, presents Casey Affleck   with the Best Actor Oscar. “Man I wish I had something bigger and more meaningful to say … I just dumbfounded to be included,” says the newly minted Oscar winner. He thanks a lot of people including his parents. Then he thanked Ben and someone else – but I couldn’t make out the name. By the way, that hair and beard is for a role.

11:57 The Best Actress Oscar goes to Emma Stone. “A moment like this is a high confluence of luck and opportunity.” Well done.

12:10 Whaaat??? Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (who looks amazing!) present the Best Picture Oscar to La La Land by mistake. The entire cast and crew was up on stage and had their Oscars in their hands when it was announced that actually Moonlight that had won. La La Land’s Jordan Horowitz tries to tell the audience about the mix-up and holds up the card that reads ‘Moonlight.’ Jimmy Kimmel joins the crowd on stage to announce this is not a joke – but says he blames Steve Harvey. Warren Beatty says he was not trying to be funny. It wasn’t. I feel horrible for everyone. The La La Land cast hand over their Oscars to the Moonlight cast and leave the stage. It was an excruciatingly awkward and jaw dropping moment. The audience is stunned. And with that, one of the most epic Oscar broadcasts in recent years ends with the most memorable Oscar moment of all time.

It was riveting.

The show: A- (Points off for keeping me up until 3 am writing this review!)

The clothes: B+

And one last thing …

Let E! News hang around for the last hour on Oscar’s red carpet. ABC kicked them off early for the first time and billed the last thirty minutes as the ‘Opening Ceremony’ which focused on a handful of stars versus the messy mash-up, meet-ups that make E! such a guilty pleasure. There’s enough star power for everyone. Come on, share the wealth.






Diane Clehane
 is Lookonline.com's entertainment editor. 
Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane





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