Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Critical Week: Oscar pulls a switcheroo

The 89th Academy Awards ended with a major upset on Sunday night, as Moonlight won the Best Picture Oscar over seemingly set-in-stone favourite La La Land, which had scooped up almost everything in its path during awards season. And it was made even more memorable when this important triumph was so badly botched by officials from PwC, who gave the wrong envelope to presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (a 50th anniversary Bonnie & Clyde reunion), who announced La La Land. And it took two long minutes to correct the error. Watching this unfold live was simply astonishing, one of the most jaw-dropping moments in Oscar history. It definitely overshadowed just how amazing Moonlight's win is.

There were hints early on that the expected La La Land sweep wasn't going to happen, as awards were handed out to Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and even Suicide Squad before La La Land won its first statuette. In the end, La La Land won 6 awards to Moonlight's 3. Other than Best Picture, there were no real upsets. Speeches were terrific, with pointed political jabs and lots of wonderfully emotional moments.

Jimmy Kimmel did a solid job as host, maintaining his jokes all the way through the ceremony (something few hosts manage). He also gave his continual mocking of Trump a jokey tone. Some of his bits didn't really work (the tour bus) and others were recycled (mean tweets), but his dry approach was very funny, and the ongoing banter with Matt Damon genuinely hilarious.

Before leaving Los Angeles, I managed to catch up with Get Out, Jordan Peele's superbly original horror drama - witty, scary and very clever. And back in London I headed to a screening of the strikingly original superhero thriller Logan, Hugh Jackman's last outing as Wolverine. On the plane in between, I revisited one of my all-time favourites, Mel Brooks' classic Blazing Saddles, which still makes me laugh uncontrollably.

Coming up this week, we have screenings of the new mega-blockbuster Kong: Skull Island, Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper, Stephen Fry's Hippopotamus, the Argentine drama Bromance, and the dark romance Fair Haven, to start with.

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