The Final 2017 Oscars Column: The Mix-Up, The Winners, and Jimmy Kimmel

I’d like to congratulate the Ben-Hur remake on its remarkable BEST PICTURE WIN…Oh, wait.

Yeah. Wow. I was all set to open this article with about three or four Suicide Squad jokes, but I guess that will have to wait. What happened last night at the Academy Awards is truly unprecedented.

All joking aside, I can’t imagine what the producers of La La Land must have felt on that stage. You think you just won an Oscar, and in a matter of moments, it’s wiped away. Wow. If you ever want to show your kids how to handle a situation with class and grace, just show them that clip. The producers of La La Land dealt with that situation as well as anyone could have imagined. That’s the most important thing in all of this.

Now onto the actual situation. Please keep in mind, I’m writing this without really combing through social media. Maybe something gets realized by the time you read this, but here’s my two cents on this whole nutty debacle.

Photo Credit: ABC/Eddy Chen

ENVELOPE GATE

Clearly, a producer, or some random stage guy we’ll never know, handed Warren Beatty the wrong envelope. First of all, how was it the Emma Stone envelope? That was already awarded, so how does it get back into circulation? Did they make two Emma Stone envelopes by accident? Oy vey.

I said this in our quick wrap up podcast, but something about Warren Beatty’s reaction to reading the card felt off. I know we all assumed we was joking around, but he almost looked to Faye Dunaway for help, as if to say, “What the hell is this?” It’s impossible to know what to do in that situation. It’s also hard for me to blame Warren Beatty in all this, but I suppose the right thing to do would be to go back stage and get clarification, but what a strange situation that puts him in.

That’s really all I have to say about it. It just sucks. Kudos to both the La La Land and Moonlight teams for handling it with total class.

Photo Credit: ABC/Eddy Chen

MOONLIGHT WON BEST PICTURE

Okay, now that we’ve properly covered the controversy to end all controversies, let’s actually discuss Moonlight pulling off the upset. Credit to my co-host, Editor-in-Chief Bill Bodkin, for calling this. We both talked about how La La Land was not the stone cold lock for Best Picture. While Damien Chazelle had a stranglehold on Best Director, Moonlight taking this award was a very realistic possibility.

There seems to be a changing of the guard in what type of movies win this award. It always used to be epics. Going back to 2014, while Birdman certainly had an epic quality, it was a quirky little film. We all thought The Revenant was going to take it last year, but Spotlight, a very small movie, snagged it. And now this year, the indie film to end all indie films took home the gold over a lavish, vintage Hollywood musical production. While directors seem to still be winning for epics, that hasn’t been the case for Best Picture. This is definitely a trend to pay attention to.

And lastly, I’ll just say this – congrats to Moonlight. It’s a powerful, gut-wrenching film, and absolutely deserving of the big prize.

ACADEMY AWARD WINNER SUICIDE SQUAD

Suicide Squad won an Oscar. It happened. Deal with it. Look, I can sit here all day and make all the “Oscar Count: Suicide Squad: 1, Hidden Figures: 0” jokes all day long, but here’s the bottom-line: The category it won for (Best Makeup/Hairstyling) is actually very deserving. As I’ve said 900 times, I detest this movie. It stinks. Having said that, the makeup was very noteworthy and specific. It looked cool. And that’s what makes the Oscars so great. It can recognize certain areas of filmmaking you may excel in, even if the movie is really bad. Look at the Transformer movies for example. I’ll be the first to say it – they deserve Best Visual Effects nominations.

So before everyone rants and raves at Suicide Squad having more Oscars than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just give it some real thought at the actual award it won for.

There are bigger tragedies in life, like thinking you won an Oscar, but didn’t.

Photo Credit: ABC/Eddy Chen

JIMMY KIMMEL: ROUGH START…HE GOT BETTER

First off, the Justin Timberlake opening was awkward. Not a fan.

As far as Kimmel goes, he was fine. The opening monologue was rough. We got a lame Damien Chazelle college age jab, and a “Manchester by the Sea is fun” joke. Seriously? Yeah, haven’t heard that a million times on the awards circuit. The Mel Gibson digs were also a little Ricky Gervais-esuqe. Ugh. We obviously knew there would be a ton of Trump jokes. While they got better as the night went along, the monologue wasn’t pretty. We got a Trump bowel movement gag. I think we can do better. The only Trump joke that worked in the monologue was the “Is that an Ivanka?” line. That was pretty good.

Aside from an AWKWARD O.J. joke, Kimmel got a lot better as the night went on. The whole tour bus bit is nice in theory, but it went on too long. What absolutely cracked me up though was the We Bought a Zoo gag. That was HYSTERICAL. The whole Kimmel/Damon feud is getting a little old, and I definitely didn’t want to see it at the Oscars. Keep it relegated to your own show, Jimmy! Having said that, the Zoo bit was beautifully done, and Kimmel nailed his performance as he watched the clips.

All in all, Kimmel was hit or miss. I give him a C+.

Photo Credit: ABC/Eddy Chen

QUICK HITS ON THE CEREMONY

Political Shenanigans: We all knew there would be a lot of political banter, and it could have gone a lot worse. I thought everyone was perfectly classy. They said what they wanted to say, and did so eloquently. Nobody was obnoxious. The end.

Best Foreign Language Film: I was dead wrong on this. I thought everybody was WAY overthinking the whole Salesman controversy, and that Toni Erdmann would still win. That was my worst call of the night.

In Memoriam…Wow: I know we’ve been saying it all year, but to see all those names flash on screen in succession was unbelievable. Gene Wilder. Carrie Fisher. John Hurt. Prince. Wow. Even big time directors you wouldn’t remember like Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) and Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter) were on there.

That “May the force be with you” line to close it out though…crushing.

FILMS I’M REALLY HAPPY DIDN’T GET SHUT OUT

Arrival (Best Sound Editing): My favorite movie of 2016 did not go away empty handed.

Hacksaw Ridge (Best Editing/Best Sound Mixing): Glad to see this movie get recognized with Best Editing. While it was an upset over La La Land, war movies tend to fare well here. I’ve said it a lot, but if there was no Gibson baggage, this film could have been a legit Best Picture/Director contender.

Best Song (“City of Stars,” La La Land): This may have been my favorite line of the night: “She let me quit the JCC soccer league to be in a school musical.” That’s hilarious.

THE BIG AWARDS NOT NAMED BEST PICTURE

Best Adapted Screenplay (Moonlight): Arrival had a glimmer of hope, but this was going to Moonlight. It’s a tough script to ignore.

Best Original Screenplay (Manchester by the Sea): While technically an upset, this really shouldn’t have been a surprise. La La Land is great, but Kenneth Lonergan’s script was tough to ignore with so many gut-wrenching scenes with an avalanche of emotions. Great win for Lonergan.

Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis, Fences): There was no mystery on this one. While a little much at times, Viola sure as hell can deliver a riveting speech.

Best Supporting Actor: (Mahershala Ali, Moonlight): This guy probably gave my favorite speech of the night. Aside from having a kid, I loved how he thanked his teachers, as he just seems to have a great appreciation for the craft. Couldn’t be happier for this win.

Best Director (Damien Chazelle, La La Land): While Moonlight was on upset watch all awards season for Best Picture, there was no way Chazelle was losing this award. He put this bad boy together, and directed the hell out of it. It’s a technical achievement all over the place. The acting is superb. His Oscar was engraved months ago.

Best Actor (Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea): The only reason this category was close were the controversies. As great as Denzel Washington was in Fences, that third Oscar is very elusive. He’ll get there someday. At the end of the day though, Affleck’s performance in this movie was too strong to ignore. This was his award. His speech was also very genuine.

Best Actress (Emma Stone, La La Land): While a competitive field, Stone’s performance was too much for everyone to overcome. Had Natalie Portman not won an Oscar previously for Black Swan, maybe this could have turned out differently. Emma Stone’s electrifying performance is a big reason why La La Land is as great as it is. This is her movie. Her speech was also excellent, in particular the part about the Oscar symbolizing a way to improve. That’s awesome. Emma Stone will be around for decades to come.

THAT’S IT, FOLKS!

That about does it. While the entire night seemed predictable, this is why you stay till the very end. I have a feeling we won’t be forgetting that one anytime soon. You got to feel for the La La Land producers and Warren Beatty, but for guys like me who write and cover this stuff, it’s hard to complain about what happened.

One thing’s for sure: Good luck to whoever hosts next year. I can’t imagine more pressure on a first joke than at next year’s ceremony.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.