Oscars 2018 – Kimmel’s safe hands suited a night where only Peele and McDormand raised the pulse

Guillermo del Toro accepts the Oscar for Best Picture for The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro accepts the Oscar for Best Picture for The Shape of Water

#OscarsSoSafe

It was a night that promised to answer so many compelling questions. Would everyone protest and wear black on the red carpet? Would diversity-focused speeches dominate proceedings? Would Ryan Seacrest finally shut the hell up?

However, the overriding feeling after the Oscars 2018 is simply that the ceremony we witnessed last night was the safest and most conservative event possible in the current climate. Jimmy Kimmel‘s opening monologue was too busy being woke to be funny and the most memorable moments from a hosting perspective were a dreadful running gag about the shortest speech winning a jet ski and a bizarre sub-Saturday Night Takeaway skit in which a ragtag bunch of celebrities surprised an auditorium full of cinemagoers. Because no one would appreciate that moment more than people who chose to go out during the Oscars.

Even away from Kimmel’s infuriating barrage of obvious gags about the envelope mix-up and a toothless roast of Harvey Weinstein, this was an Oscars that felt isolated and sealed away from the earthquake making changes in the world of Hollywood. Despite the smattering of Time’s Up pin badges and red carpet coverage that was more subdued than we have come to expect, the tremors of a changing industry didn’t seem to shake the Dolby Theater’s foundations.

It was only Frances McDormand, taking to the stage after winning Best Actress for her acidic turn in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, who seemed aware that something significant was happening. She conjured up the moment of the night when she urged all of the female nominees to get to their feet and used the term ‘inclusion rider’ as a rallying cry, though it’s difficult to believe just about anyone other than Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep could have the stroke to make that work. It was nonetheless a memorable moment in a ceremony very short on those.

The winner on the night was The Shape of Water, which won four awards from its 13 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro. Its main competitor, Three Billboards, was perhaps hurt by the backlash against it and ended up with just two prizes, behind Dunkirk, which nabbed three gongs and was the runner-up of the evening.

Perhaps the only surprise, albeit one presaged by the Writers’ Guild of America Awards, was Jordan Peele‘s victory in the Best Original Screenplay category for Get Out. The film is a special, significant piece of work and it was great to see it win, smashing records as the first black Best Original Screenplay winner as well as the first victory for a horror movie in that category. Peele’s victory tantalisingly hinted at a shocking upset for Get Out in other categories, perhaps because of how important the Original Screenplay field was this year, but the film will deservingly go down as an Oscar winner, even though it left with just the one gong.

The real winner of the Oscars 2018, in fact, was whoever made the montages. An early sequence running through the highlights of the Academy’s 90-year history was a thrilling journey through the best of cinema and the evening’s main nod to Time’s Up, in a montage celebrating diversity, was brilliant. The likes of Ava DuVernay, Kumail Nanjiani and Best Director nominee Greta Gerwig were handed the chance and the platform to speak passionately about the importance of representation, with Nanjiani in particular wowing social media with a compelling argument about how he has managed to identify with white heroes for his whole life. In a feat of bizarre timing, however, the next award after that went to an 89-year-old white man. He got a standing ovation.

Maybe it would’ve been easier to just give every award to The Greatest Showman. There wouldn’t have been any complaints from me.

What did you think of the Oscars 2018? Were you pleased to see The Shape of Water win? What was your favourite musical performance from last night and why was it The Greatest Showman? Let me know in the comments section.

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