PAPER Most tepid predictable show in memory
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By Sara Stewart
March 5, 2018 | 1:13am
“This is so much better than the Oscars!” said “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot as she left the glittery ceremony, alongside host Jimmy Kimmel and a handful of other celebs, to hand out candy to a roomful of moviegoers across the street.
Kimmel’s stunt — interrupting an advance screening of “A Wrinkle in Time” to “thank” regular people for going to the movies — was lame, but Gadot had it right.
Almost anything would have been better: The 90th Annual Academy Awards was the most tepid, predictable one in recent memory, devoid of anything resembling a spontaneous or dramatic moment until it was nearly time to wrap it all up.
Thanks, at least, for a fiendishly giggling Best Actress winner Frances McDormand, who in her speech urged all the female nominees in every category to stand up and represent the future of the industry.
“We all have stories to tell, and projects we need financed,” the “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” winner announced to the rest of the room. “I have two words for you: Inclusion rider.”
(And kudos to the Hollywood Reporter for the explanation: “An inclusion rider is a reference to the belief by some that there should be requirements in contracts that provide for gender and racial diversity.”)
But the rest of the evening crawled by, beginning with Kimmel’s hokey monologue (weren’t agent jokes already old in the 1950s?) and continuing with a trudge through yawn-inducing banter between celebrity announcers and rote awards speeches encouraged by Kimmel’s dare to see who could get off the stage the quickest (Helen Mirren made an amusing cameo as the spokesmodel for the JetSki prize, which went to Mark Bridges, costume designer of “Phantom Thread,” clocking in at 36 seconds).
A few presenters shone through anyway. A luminescent Lupita Nyong’o, along with Kumail Nanjiani, gave a rare and possibly improvised moment of solidarity — “To all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you!” — before awarding Best Production Design. And Dave Chappelle, presenting a song, raised an eyebrow at his own reception by the crowd: “Thank you for that smattering of applause.”
Nearly all the safe bets dutifully scooped up their awards: Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell, Best Supporting Actress Allison Janney, Best Director Guillermo del Toro, Best Actor Gary Oldman and McDormand. Even Best Picture winner “The Shape of Water” managed to be a boring if likable enough choice: del Toro’s sweet, melancholy monster movie was far less controversial than “Three Billboards,” and not nearly as edgy as underdog favorite “Get Out.”
A few categories did see firsts. “Get Out” director Jordan Peele became the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and writer James Ivory the oldest Oscar recipient, at 89, for his adapted screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name.” Netflix also won its first feature film Oscar, for the Russian doping documentary “Icarus.”
It was a night that proved a letdown for female nominees in typically male categories (Greta Gerwig for Best Director, Rachel Morrison for Best Cinematography) and gave a rather brief hat-tip to the #MeToo movement that rocked Hollywood this past year.