On the day the Oscar nominations were announced back on January 23rd, I tweeted this:
I’ll take 8 for 9.
But the one I missed was the big one: The Shape of Water.
The year’s nomination leader with 13 went on to win Best Picture of the Year at the 90th Annual Academy Awards. It was the final of four Oscars that the period fantasy scooped up, along with Best Director Guillermo del Toro, Best Score, and Best Production Design.
In the process, it took down one of the biggest historical obstacles in all of Awards Season predictive stats: it’s the the first film in 22 years (since 1995’s Braveheart) to win Best Picture despite not having been nominated for Best Cast by the Screen Actors Guild. Not even the 14-times nominated La La Land (also not a Best Cast SAG nominee) was able to overcome that. It’s also the first Best Picture winner in 20 years (1997’s Titanic) to not win in any of the acting or screenplay categories.
Fox Searchlight has officially emerged as the top feted film studio of the modern era. This marks the 3rd time in 5 years that Fox Searchlight (now a Disney subsidiary) has won the Best Picture prize, a feet that not even the shamed Harvey Weinstein could achieve in his heyday. Along with Shape‘s 4 Oscars, Fox Searchlight also scored two more in major categories with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell completed their season-long sweeps in the Actress and Supporting Actor contests.
The voters really spread the wealth, with 7 of the 9 Best Picture nominees winning at least one Academy Award. The only two to go home empty handed: Lady Bird and The Post. No film won more than 4 Oscars, which was The Shape of Water, followed by Christopher Nolan‘s WWII epic Dunkirk which landed 3: Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.
Other than the suspense that was swirling around which movie would win the top prize, the rest of the predictable night stayed mostly predictable. The director, two screenplays, and four acting categories all went to the presumptive favorites.
Even Roger Deakins finally took home the Best Cinematography prize for Blade Runner 2049, as many expected. This long overdue honor was his first win after 14 nominations. Of the individual career injustices that could’ve been rectified this year, this one was easily the biggest.
More broadly, one of the Academy’s racial historical injustices was also finally addressed: Jordan Peele became the first African-American to ever win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, for his writer / director debut Get Out. There have only been three other black screenwriting winners, all in the Adapted category, for Precious (Geoffrey S. Fletcher), Twelve Years a Slave (John Ridley), and Moonlight (Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCrane).
But in a year of Female and African-American breakthroughs, the big minority winners at the 90th Academy Awards were Mexicans. Along with Guillermo del Toro – who now joins his fellow Mexicano “Three Amigos” Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant) as a Best Director winner – the USA’s southern neighbor and its culture was also celebrated in Coco‘s two wins for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Remember Me”).
These worthy victories were among the few highlights (along with Frances McDormand‘s impassioned speech of female solidarity) in an otherwise boring telecast that clocked in at just under 4 hours, sparked only by rare presenters who knew how to play the room (from the dry humor of Screenplay nominee Kumail Nanjiani, who would be a great Oscar host, and the hilarious duo of Tiffany Hadish and Maya Rudolph).
While it didn’t have any embarrassments on the scale of last year’s Best Picture snafu, this show sure could’ve used one. (The TV audience was down 16 percent from last year to become the lowest rated Oscars ever.) Aside from some well-cut film history montages – like this one about the 90 Years of Oscar – and absolutely uh-maaaz-ing set pieces (even presenter Jane Fonda couldn’t stop from commenting on how stunning the sets were), host Jimmy Kimmel‘s humor largely played it safe and the bits were duds.
The worst offender here (which is saying something, considering the lame “jet ski” prize gag) was the “surprise” at the nearby theater where regular patrons were greeted by Kimmel and a group of stars and nominees. Not only was this a weak redux of a bit from last year, but it took up way too much time in a night that was already overlong.
Worse yet, it was basically a shameless plug by ABC parent Disney for its new film A Wrinkle In Time which opens this Friday. From that to several Black Panther references to even Best Song winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez making a plug for the new Frozen musical on Broadway during their actual acceptance speech, Disney’s corporate synergy cross-promotion was done with absolutely no shame.
Lopez also made awards history tonight with a truly staggering, unprecedented feat. He’s the first-ever two-time EGOT winner. An EGOT is an exclusive club of people who have won an award in the four major entertainment industries: TV’s Emmy, music’s Grammy, film’s Oscar, and theatre’s Tony. Only 12 people in history have done it, including Mel Brooks, Rita Moreno, and Whoopi Goldberg. No one has ever won two of each award before, until now. Lopez has done this by the young age of 43. His wins are:
- Emmys: two for his work on separate episodes of the animated children’s series Wonder Pets
- Grammys: for Book of Mormon album, the Frozen soundtrack, and the song “Let It Go”
- Oscars: Song wins for “Let It Go” (Frozen) and “Remember Me” (Coco)
- Tonys: Score for Avenue Q; Best Book and Best Original Score for Book of Mormon
He’s fast on his way to pulling off a Triple EGOT, too, now halfway there for trios in the Grammy and Tony slots. He was already the youngest person to ever EGOT (by age 39) and also the fastest (in a 10 year span).
Finally, as far as my predictions were concerned, it was a solid showing. I went 17-for-24 overall, and 3 of the 7 that I missed were in the near-impossible to peg Shorts categories. Still, the coveted 20-or-more wins remained elusive.
Below is a complete list of the winners. To see all the nominees, click here.
To watch each acceptance speech, click on the category title.
THE 90TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – Icarus
Click on links below for other Critics Group Awards and Guild Nominees that have been announced so far for the 2017 / 18 season:
Writers Guild of America winners
Directors Guild of America winners
Screen Actors Guild winners
Producers Guild of America winners
Critics Choice Awards winners
Golden Globe Winners
National Society of Film Critics
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle
Chicago Film Critics Association
Atlanta Film Critics Circle
San Diego Film Critics Society
Philadelphia Film Critics Circle
Toronto Film Critics Association
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Boston Society of Film Critics
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association
AFI Top 10 of 2017
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
New York Film Critics Circle
The National Board of Review