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89th Academy Awards Recap

I’d like to remind everyone that it’s a wonderful thing to be reminded that we really don’t know shit. From the start of last night, I saw how badly I was doing and was going to do could not have been more happy about it. There’s something so reassuring about that. Knowing amazing things could happen that you weren’t anticipating. Knowing that in the end, nothing happens according to plan and that life throws you curveballs constantly.

It’s not what I’d have picked, and it’s not what I thought would happen, but I love everything that happened last night. All the way down the line. I loved everything about it.

Full disclosure, I started live-blogging the show when it began and got about as far as the third award. I then realized I was way too drunk for that to go down, so I stopped. I used to joke, saying the Oscars were actually my Super Bowl and that it was the only thing I got legitimately excited for. I thought it was a joke. Then I realized, at 2pm PT yesterday, that I was standing about a half a mile from where the Oscars were talking place and legitimately tailgating an awards show that’s both repulsive and the basis for everything I do on this site. And I realized two things. 1) “Wow, I am fucking shitfaced and the show doesn’t even start for another two hours.” And 2) “I guess this is my Super Bowl.”

So yeah, I had approximately three full bottles of wine yesterday between 2pm and 9pm Los Angeles time, so forgive me for not being as funny as I normally would be all around. I barely remember half the show happening and don’t even want to go back and look at half the shit I texted or tweeted about it.

Though I will say — is it weird that I’m now relieved at how all this went down?

I’ve been apologizing to people for two months about La La Land winning Best Picture, and now it’s actually a relief to know that it didn’t. Go figure. Now I get to love it on its own terms without the weight of it having won on its shoulders.

Why do the Oscars mean so much and so little at the same time?

Best Picture: Moonlight

I’m not even gonna get into what went down on the stage. That is what it is. I’m gonna praise everything about Moonlight and be so very, very happy that they won Best Picture. There is nothing to be upset about this film winning, and I’m actually glad it ended the choice when all was said and done. It’s so deserving and it probably will end up being the better choice in the end. I do feel bad that La La Land ended up on the stage accepting the award for a few moments before the correction was made, but still, the result is a very satisfying one and I am really happy for everything this film is and this film stands for.

I truly would like to think the Academy gave us this moment to make up for what happened during the election.

It’s also kind of bittersweet, right, that it all ended almost exactly the way La La Land did?

Also, the PGA is wrong again for two years in a row, and we might be entering a new era in the Academy. Only time will tell that. But it certainly makes things way more interesting in the end. And I love it. Don’t you want to be on your toes, not knowing how things will turn out? It’s not fun being able to know you’re gonna get almost everything right.

Moonlight ends up winning almost exactly the way 12 Years a Slave won in 2013 — Screenplay, Picture and a Supporting acting award, beating a film with the most overall wins. I can’t find a single fault with any of that except the unfortunate business of how it went down.

Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

This is now the most surprising result of the night. It lost Best Picture yet still managed this. Interesting. This was a very locked award all the way through, but looking at it in the full context of what happened makes things real interesting in retrospect.

It’s now four of the past five years where Best Picture and Best Director have split. That’s crazy.

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

I’m shocked that this is the one I ended up getting right in the end. It just made sense.

The one thing I was holding onto — that I said I would explain if Casey Affleck won — was the notion that SAG is such a huge voting body, and in the past five years or so it’s been skewing toward certain choices that made me question my devotion to SAG. I want to put this as delicately as I can, because I’m not sure the mechanisms behind it…

When Idris Elba won last year, I had that moment of reflection. He was terrific in Beasts of No Nation and is terrific as an actor. But I have this weird thing where I can turn off the subjective part of my brain and turn on the analytical part, which is what allows me to guess these things without really letting the other stuff in the way. And that analytical part went, “This was a statement.” We were in the thick of “OscarsSoWhite” and something about all of that made me feel like they voted that way for a reason. That is probably untrue (I’d like to think the voting process is unbiased on both sides of that coin, and probably has nothing to do with the way this went down, but that’s what I thought in that moment. And SAG having about ten times as big a voting body as the Academy (right? Aren’t there like a hundred thousand members or something like that?)… you typically see more populist choices there all around. That’s why Emily Blunt makes it on SAG when you know there’s no way The Girl on the Train is gonna be nominated for Best Actress.

So when I saw Denzel win that, that analytical part of my brain turned on and said… “This feels wrong.” Not wrong in the sense that he shouldn’t have won, wrong in the sense that, “This feels like a choice.” Kind of like the way “The Salesman” was a choice. Maybe it was a vote against Casey Affleck, maybe it’s a deliberate vote for Denzel for performance reasons, maybe for other reasons. I don’t know, and I don’t care! He was great in the film and he’s deserving to have won it.

I think ultimately what I’m really getting at here is: I think what they’re trying to do with the Academy — opening it up to make it more diverse and include as many different types of people that they can (and not just older, white people), which in turn would alter the kinds of films that are nominated and win awards — I think that’s already happened with SAG, and the Academy, while slowly coming around to it (as evidenced by the Best Picture result), is not there yet. And I think we’re in that weird middle ground where you see the disconnect still happening.

Now, maybe that’s not true at all. But there has to be a reason that explains why all the other voting bodies went for Casey Affleck (BAFTA didn’t even nominate Denzel) and why SAG, the biggest voting body, gave it to Denzel. This is not very thought out or coherent at all. I’m just trying to explain how my head worked in order to come out with the notion that Casey Affleck was going to win. In my head it was like, “Yeah, no, it’s gonna be Affleck,” and I just understood all of that, and then trying to explain it — it’s like trying to explain the definition of something simple. And all you can think to do is define the word with the word itself. It just felt like it was gonna be Affleck, and something about that SAG win seemed to represent that disconnect that’s been slowly building between the two these past couple of years.

Shocked I got so much wrong and this right. But oh well.

Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land

This one was coming for a while. Once nominations happened and we saw Jackie not get the support we thought this was left wide open for Emma Stone to take. And she did. I could not have seen this coming three months ago. But she went right in there and won this award. And good for her.

Not much else to add here. This seemed like it was bound to happen, given the way things started turning out. So no real surprises. You can feel however you want to about it, but this was not a surprise.

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Another one that seemed like a lock all the way through. What a great story all around, and it’s something that got lost amidst the rest of the night. Great for him and good choice.

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

This was locked all the way through, so really all there is to say is — Viola finally has her Oscar.

Best Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea

This seemed like an inevitable. Moonlight was moved to Adapted, and by the time this was announced, La La Land had lost a few key categories to show a sweep wasn’t going down. Basically leaving it for the obvious choice to win. Lonergan is a playwright. Is anyone surprised by this?

Best Adapted Screenplay: Moonlight

Well it looks obvious after the fact, now doesn’t it?

Mostly what I loved about it was the speeches they gave, and how they had the sense not to play them off at all during them. I was waiting for that music to start, but it never came. So good on them.

Otherwise, this was a pretty easy winner going in.

Best Editing; Hacksaw Ridge

This was a big one. You kinda saw this coming the way the other awards went. Turns out they went for the most edited film. It’s in line with what BAFTA did and makes sense, being a war film and all. This turned out to be a swing category. Though it is interesting that it lost Sound Editing and won straight up Editing. A lot of curious voting patterns this year.

Best Cinematography: La La Land

This was the only one that made sense. You knew they wouldn’t vote for Silence. It was hard to see Arrival or Moonlight getting enough traction to win. And Lion didn’t seem like the choice over La La Land. So in the end, they went with the most obvious winner. This was the point in the night where I figured it would all turn La La Land’s way. And for the most part, it did. Until the end.

Best Original Score: La La Land

One of the biggest no-brainers of all time. Not a whole lot to add here.

Best Original Song: “City of Stars,” from La La Land

In the end, the obvious choice won. Again, kind of a no-brainer we allowed ourselves to think was more open than it was. Still, the choice we all figured wound up the winner.

Best Production Design: La La Land

This was the swing category going in. It came out as a “sure.”

Look at the category — what else was it gonna be? Really only Fantastic Beasts. And I think a lot of people figured that was CGI. So they went with La La Land, and in essence, gave the Production Design award to the city of Los Angeles. But, you know, I guessed it right, so I’m not feeling so bad.

Best Costume Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Colleen Atwood now has four of these awards. It makes sense she’d be the one that won this. Though the straight up snubbing of Jackie was really surprising. That was the big takeaway of this for me. They straight up said “fuck you to Jackie. And you knew that was coming, too. Everyone saw that. Even Natalie Portman peaced on the ceremony because she knew Jackie would get ignored all around.

This award started — well, I guess the next one started, but this continued — a string of #2s coming in for me. It was second choice after second choice all night, it seemed.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Suicide Squad

Academy Award winner Suicide Squad.

Yup.

No idea how that turned out, but here we are.

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

One of the bigger gimmes of the night. Well-deserved all around.

Best Sound Editing: Arrival

This was the first semi-surprise of the night. I thought this meant they were rejecting Hacksaw, but as we’re about to see in a second it means… I don’t know what it means. Either they looked to get Arrival an award or they actually knew enough to reward it for the creation of all the alien sounds. Still kind of weird in the end, but I’m not complaining.

Best Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge

Totally weird that Editing didn’t go to Hacksaw and Mixing did. We almost had the reverse split of what I said would happen, but fortunately La La Land didn’t win Sound Editing, so I don’t feel so bad about getting both wrong.

A musical lost Sound Mixing and the war film didn’t win both. Crazy. Oh well.

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

This was assumed all the way through and there was no surprise there.

Really all I have to say is that I love Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana is a vastly underrated movie.

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman

Oh, they couldn’t wait to make this statement. I deliberately voted Toni Erdmann just to keep things interesting, but you knew what this was all the way. The minute he announced he was boycotting the Oscars, this win was all but assured.

I’m curious — how many people actually saw The Salesman?

But at least now we have that Jack Nicholson/Kristen Wiig remake of Toni Erdmann to look forward to. Right?

Best Documentary: O.J. Made in America

What is there to add for this? Another of the biggest gimmes of the night.

Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets

I almost nailed all three of the shorts categories, which would have made me feel oh-so much better about the whole thing. The shorts categories can always salvage a bad night.

This was the obvious choice. And I figured the higher profile would carry this to a win over Watani in the end, which is why I told you to take it. I stuck with Watani because I’m increasingly using my own ballot just to try interesting things and using the one I tell you to take as the primary “guessing” ballot.

I had this ranked #1, so I knew what the score was. This made the most sense, and now they’re gonna turn it into a feature one of these years.

Best Live-Action Short: Sing

The only fourth choice of the night for me. It’s always something. Usually it’s a short. I’d have had this as a #3 if I didn’t change it at the last minute and put La Femme et le TGV as the third choice.

Also, I know none of you really know what these are about, but in the end, this did fit just about everything they go for in this category, so I can’t be that surprised. But I’d have sure liked it if I managed all the way through with mostly 1s and 2s and only two #3s. That would have been a real nice thing to have.

Oh well. We move on.

Best Animated Short: Piper

Made the most sense. Pixar’s first win since 2001, and the obvious choice all around. My mistake was, at the very last minute, swapping Piper and Pearl on my rankings and putting Pearl #1. So rather than an easy #1, I ended up getting a #2. Oh well. We live and we don’t learn.

– – – – – – – – – –

Here’s a breakdown of the Oscars:

La La Land — 6 Oscars (Director, Actress, Cinematography, Score, Song, Production Design)

Moonlight — 3 Oscars (Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay)

Hacksaw Ridge — 2 Oscars (Editing, Sound Mixing)

Manchester by the Sea — 2 Oscars (Actor, Original Screenplay)

Arrival — 1 Oscar (Sound Editing)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — 1 Oscar (Costume Design)

Fences — 1 Oscar (Supporting Actress)

The Jungle Book — 1 Oscar (Visual Effects)

Suicide Squad — 1 Oscar (Makeup and Hairstyling)

Zootopia — 1 Oscar (Animated Feature)

Other winners were: The Salesman, O.J. Made in America, The White Helmets, Sing and Piper.

– – – – – – – – – –

So  this year was a bloodbath. Isn’t that great?

Here’s how I did on my predictions:

On my personal ballot, I got right: Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score, Song, Production Design, Visual Effects, Documentary.

I got wrong: Picture, Editing, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Animated Feature, Foreign Language Film, Documentary Short, Live-Action Short, Animated Short

That’s 13/24. So terrible. I love it.

On the ballot I told you to take, I got: Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score, Song, Production Design, Visual Effects, Documentary, Animated Feature, Foreign Language Film, Documentary Short, Animated Short

I got wrong: Picture, Editing, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Live-Action Short

17/24. Which is fair all around. The smart ballot did okay in the end. I knew I deliberately went against the smart decisions on a lot of them. Which is why I kept you guys on the straight and narrow.

Picture went against all logic and I don’t regret that in the least. Editing I guess I could have had, but I wouldn’t have had it. Costume Design — maybe? But I said go with the safe choice. I don’t regret that. Makeup — no. Sound Editing and Mixing — aside from “don’t split the Sound categories, Mike,” I really couldn’t have called how that turned out. And Live-Action Short you never feel bad about. So I’m good.

And now, for the Scorecard (oh boy):

  • Best Picture: +2
  • Best Director: +1
  • Best Actor: +1
  • Best Actress: +1
  • Best Supporting Actor: +1
  • Best Supporting Actress: +1
  • Best Original Screenplay: +1
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: +1
  • Best Editing: +2
  • Best Cinematography: +1
  • Best Original Score: +1
  • Best Original Song: +1
  • Best Production Design: +1
  • Best Costume Design: +2
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling: +2
  • Best Visual Effects: +1
  • Best Sound Mixing: +2
  • Best Sound Editing: +3
  • Best Animated Feature: +1
  • Best Foreign Language Film: +1
  • Best Documentary Feature: +1
  • Best Documentary Short: +1
  • Best Live-Action Shot: +4
  • Best Animated Short: +2

+11. 35.

Honestly not as bad as I was expecting. Were it not for a last minute change in Animated Short and my gut saying to put Sing third, I’d have been +9, 33. Still, +11 isn’t that bad. One +3 and one +4, otherwise 1s and 2s all around. I’m fine with that.

Last year I was +9, so I was right there. I try to get around +6, but that’s actually a really good year. +8-10 is about the range of being okay, so I think I was in the range of okay.

– – – – – – – – – – –

That about does it for me. I’m gonna go away for a little while and recuperate. I need to gather my strength for whatever it is I want to do next on here. I gotta finish the Oscar Quest reconsideration on the Best Pictures. That’ll happen at some point. And then I have a few other things I wanna do at some point. It’s been a little while since I’ve had a moment to breathe, so I’m gonna enjoy the next few weeks and take it from there.

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