With some huge achievements and huger milestones, the Oscars 2018 had some surprises up its sleeve.
Wednesday 14 March 2018
by REUBEN MUIR
As predicted, the Oscars performed as planned, all the frontrunners took home awards, with THE SHAPE OF WATER being the big winner with four awards. Notable awards went to British cinematographer Roger Deakins whose Oscar for BLADE RUNNER 2049 was his first after 14 previous nominations; James Ivory, who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, has became the oldest Oscar winner in any category at the age of 89; Jordan Peele is the first African American to win an Oscar for Original Screenplay for GET OUT; and Guillermo Del Toro’s win for Best Director has put him alongside the other members of the so called “Three Amigos” (including Alejandro Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón) and has made him the fourth Mexican to win the award in five years. MUDBOUND and THE POST failed to secure a win but the biggest loser was LADY BIRD, which caught some traction in recent months due to the growing #MeToo/#TimesUp movement.
However, while THE SHAPE OF WATER’s win for Best Picture was expected, it should not be forgotten how unusual this win is and how it could impact the future of awards season. Horror, action, fantasy and science fiction genre films are often overlooked by the Oscars. But in recent years the nominations have shown a change in perspective. MAD MAX FURY ROAD and THE MARTIAN were big contenders three years ago, as was ARRIVAL last year and GET OUT and THE SHAPE OF WATER this year. The latter has now become the first fantasy film to win since THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING in 2004 and its win could signal an opportunity for more genre fare to also achieve Academy Award success. Of course, the film still contains a lot of traditional Oscar elements, which undoubtedly made it easier for voters to support it. But the opportunities its win has opened up are undeniable and genre filmmaking might finally get the awards recognition it often deserves.
As for the ceremony itself, it was as average as it could be. Jimmy Kimmel was a fine host but it did feel like he was trying too hard. The most egregious part of the ceremony was when Kimmel took a group of celebrities across the road to surprise unsuspecting cinemagoers. Instead of laughs, the stunt produced groans and felt somewhat obnoxious. Frances McDormand’s acceptance speech for Best Actress for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI garnered the most amount of news coverage following the event. Asking all the female nominees in the auditorium to stand, she highlighted how they all have stories to tell and now is the time to make them. The speech has definitely stuck a chord and has added to the ongoing conversation of diversity in film.
This year has shown that traditional Oscar fare needs to up it game. THE POST is an interesting case in point. Entering the race with prestige talent and critical acclaim, so many expected it to dominate the Oscars. But very quickly people turned against it, for the exact reason people thought it would be successful; it is too conventional, it has the message but it is not explored in an innovative way. Who knows what Spielberg could have achieved if he had worked on it for a year longer, how he could have made the story more prevalent or made the drama more powerful. The race is wide open again but we will have to wait and see if these wins and the political discussion do have an impact.