We were spoiled last year. In terms of Oscar shockers, the Best Picture envelope switch-a-roo at the end of the 2017 Oscars ranks right up there with . . . well, there is no comparison. (Crash beating Brokeback Mountain 12 years ago doesn’t even come close). So, yeah, the 90th annual Oscars on March 4 were bound to be anticlimactic. Little did we know the biggest jaw-dropper would be the sight of Best Actress co-presenter Jodie Foster on crutches. That’s what happens when the four acting champs — Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney — waltz through every single pre-Oscars ceremony. Here are the night’s other big surprises. I use that word loosely.
1. And the Oscar Goes To . . . . . The Shape of Water
Oh. A presumed three-way Best Picture race among Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out and The Shape of Water went to the only movie that involved sex between a lonely mute woman and the fish-monster thing of her dreams. The visually stunning tale — a mix of Beauty & The Beast, Splash and Creature from the Black Lagoon — scored the most Oscars of the night, including Guillermo Del Toro for Best Director. Yet the pick is still a B-grade stunner. A year after the maverick Moonlight got the top prize over La La Land, I was taken aback that Academy members gave it to the safest choice. My theory: The Shape of Water was the steady No. 2 choice on Academy ballots, whereas the more controversial Three Billboards and Get Out received a smattering of 1 and 3 rankings. Therefore, it wins by default. Make sense?
2. The Greatest Upset?
Keala Settle’s rousing performance of “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman was the only one to receive a standing ovation. But the unofficial anthem of 2018 was bested by the significantly more subdued “Remember Me” from Coco. NBD that actor Gael Garcia Bernal didn’t exactly bring down the house with his slightly off-key rendition. Anyone that saw Coco knows that the lovely melody — courtesy of the Frozen composers — packs an emotional wallop within the context of the movie. A boy singing to his ailing great-grandma > dejected bearded lady.
3. Jordan Peele Takes It!
Write on! Jordan Peele nabbed the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Get Out, a significant achievement for a debut effort — and a monumental one considering his film bends genres and expectations at every turn. The former Comedy Central sketch show costar and cowriter won over playwright Martin McDonagh’s equally twisty Three Billboards Over Ebbing, Missouri. (Though I did call this one in my predictions post!) No way Peele could have envisioned this moment when he conceived of The Sunken Place.
4. Icarus Flies High
Hey, remember the Winter Olympics? Russian athletes weren’t allowed to compete for the country because of a rampant doping scandal. The documentary Icarus, which premiered all the way back at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017, helped expose this illegal drug ring. And yet, Icarus was not favored to win the Best Documentary Feature award in a hot-topic category that also included Strong Island, Last Men in Aleppo and Faces Places. This is why director Bryan Fogel, who used himself as a steroid-enhanced guinea pig for his film, looked so shell-shocked at the podium.
5. Tears for Lady Bird!
Just as Lady Bird herself didn’t get lucky on prom night, Greta Gerwig’s beloved coming-of-age comedy failed to score at the Oscars. The most acclaimed film of all the nominees (per that 99 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes), Lady Bird lost out on Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. Still, Gerwig must have taken massive delight in Emma Stone’s shout-out when presenting Best Director. Plus, she, Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan all got to stand up and get a salute during Frances McDormand’s incredible Best Actress acceptance speech. She gets the popular vote.
Also published on Medium.