Duh, Moonlight Wins Best Picture
Yes, Captain Obvious, we’re aware. But it bears to be repeated: envelope fail or not, “Moonlight” winning was a huge surprise and major upset akin to Trump and Hillary last fall. Throughout the Oscar season it looked like there was absolutely no stopping the “La La Land” train. The movie was the toast of Venice, Telluride and Toronto, pretty much every fall film festival, the Golden Globes and more. Sure, “Moonlight” topped a lot of the prestigious critics polls and even mostly swept the Indie Spirit Awards the night before. But those groups and ceremony usually have very little impact on the Oscars—obviously that’s changing with “Moonlight.” So yes, you could have had a smooth transition of awards to acceptance speech and “Moonlight” would have still been a huge shocker. “La La Land” was essentially a lock and even our awards pundit said so all season long. It’s interesting to see the Academy spread the wealth around a little bit more in recent years, and it seems this trend is continuing.
Sound Mixing and Sound Editing
A fast moving musical with music aplenty, “La La Land” seemed like a pretty safe bet for the night, especially considering how musicals like this in the past usually took both sound awards. It was not to be, but there were pleasant surprises, “Arrival” took Best Sound Editing (listen to that one with the picture off and it’s an incredible symphony of score and buzzing alien-like noise) and “Hacksaw Ridge” took Best Sound Mixing—perhaps not all that much a “surprise” given noisy, action-filled dramas like Mel Gibson’s always have a solid shot at sound awards.
Best Editing Goes To “Hacksaw Ridge”
Speaking of Mel Gibson and his faith-based, brutally violent action film “Hacksaw Ridge” (how those two qualities coexist is still beyond us), the film somehow snuck in to win Best Editing. Now Best Editing traditionally used to be the best augur for what will win Best Picture. If there was any doubt how the ceremony was going, when a movie won Best Editing, 9 out of 10 times, it won Best Picture. But as we’ve noted several times this weekend and today, the voting body of the Academy Awards is changing and old trends are falling away. Much like when “Whiplash” took Best Editing, but wasn’t even much of a Best Picture contender (though it was nominated), “Hacksaw Ridge” snuck up the middle and grabbed the prize. “La La Land” was the expected, should-be sure-fire winner. Failing that, “Moonlight” appeared to be the runner up for editing. But this Editing-to-Best-Picture phenomenon appears to be finally over. Gibson’s film won two Oscars last night—the same number as the critically lauded “Manchester By The Sea” if you can believe it.
Best Costume Goes To “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”
It’s not unusual for the Best Costume award to go to fantasy and fantastical films, but there were two clear frontrunners last night: Madeline Fontaine for Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie” and its sumptuously authentic dresses, gowns and to-die-for outfits (which really should have won, btw) and “La La Land” with its eye-popping, candy colored dresses and dapper suits by Mary Zophres. Instead, “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” came out of nowhere to win the prize. The lesson learned: do not bet against costumer Colleen Atwood who has been nominated twelve times for an Oscar and has now won four trophies in the category.
“Suicide Squad” Wins An Oscar
Where were you the day “Suicide Squad” won an Oscar award? The category of Best Makeup and Hairstyling was an incredibly weird one in 2017. Only three nominees, (not that strange), and three odd ones: “Star Trek Beyond” and a foreign film no one had heard of called “Man From Ove” and of course, the cartoonish “Suicide Squad,” largely regarded as one of the worst films of the year. Was it the Jared Leto’s Joker’s bleached skin and neon-bright green hair seemingly taken from a toy? Was it Harley Quinn’s (Margot Robbie’s) pigtails and smeared make-up? Or was it Will Smith’s perfect shaved head? We’ll never really know, but yes, no one expected this award—not even the Hair and Make up team of “Suicide Squad.”
Best Original Screenplay
This was a tricky one. Kenneth Lonergan’s masterful screenplay for “Manchester By The Sea” was a major frontrunner out the gate and was a fairly sure bet for the Oscar bauble. However, Damien Chazelle’s script for Best Screenplay was picking up plaudits the entire season, even though it was unclear how it was written around musical numbers that he did not write or even have a hand in writing both lyrically and musically (he’s not credited on any song which is strange). In fact, Emma Stone once said an early version of the script had moments where it read “Mia bursts into song and dazzles the audition casting agents”— she had to take a huge leap of faith. But the screenplay was nominated everywhere, including the Oscars and won the Golden Globe. OK, maybe it was an outside shot, but if the awards would have been a sweep for “La La Land,” there’s an argument to be made it could have taken the screenwriting prize too.