Monday, March 5, 2018 at 7:43 AM

And the Oscar goes to…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Actually, the controversy surrounding Ryan Seacrest nearly upstaged the show. Therefore, I would be remiss not to revisit it – even if only to share this update.

In my original commentary, I urged him to do the sensible and honorable thing and bow out of conducting his annual red-carpet interviews. But I readily noted that Seacrest probably felt too entitled to do so. Sure enough:

He had made it clear that the show must go on, despite reports that publicists planned to steer their A-list clients elsewhere after sexual  harassment scandal. …

Indeed during the first 50 minutes of the network’s normally star-studded coverage, Ryan only managed to bag two interviews – with 24-year-old Disney star Sofia Carson and veteran song-writer Diane Warren.

(The Daily Mail, March 4, 2018)

In fact, all of the actresses nominated in the leading-role category snubbed him. Put another way, only four lesser known performers – of the 20 nominated in the 4 acting categories – granted him interviews. But enough about all that!

I’m on record stating how much I dislike the annual Academy Awards show (the Oscars). Because I have little regard for preening, pampered poseurs showing off their borrowed frocks and bling-bling as a prelude to a [nearly four-hour] show — only six minutes of which anyone really cares about (i.e., the time it takes to present Oscars for actor and actress in a leading role, actor and actress in a supporting role, best director, and best picture). …

And, remarkably enough, the host comedians do little to relieve the boredom of the interludes between these carefully spread-out moments.

(“My Review of the 2008 Oscars,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 25, 2008)

Last year, Jimmy Kimmel hosted this show for the first time. Unfortunately, like nearly every other host, he did little to relieve the boredom.

But there’s clearly something redeeming in his vanilla brand of comedy because the producers invited him back. And, to my delightful surprise, he wasted no time vindicating their choice with his voice-over homage to Hollywood’s golden years.

Then he delivered what had to have been one of the best Oscar stand-ups of all time. Not only was it funny, it was informative (about the actors and movies contending for Oscars) and provocative (in addressing the categorical imperative for Hollywood to lead in everything from Times Up to gun control).

Except that he told too many Christopher-Plummer-is-so-old jokes, and I really could’ve done without his Oscar-has-no-penis joke. (Incidentally, Plummer is 88. I’d consider myself lucky if I live that long or if I look that good … at 68.)

But Kimmel made up for all that when he ended his opening bit by channeling my gripe about the Oscars being way too long. Never mind that his idea for making it shorter was promising a jet ski (a la The Price Is Right) to the winner who delivers the shortest acceptance speech.

Whereas I maintain they should cut whatever is necessary to limit telecasts to one hour. This, especially given Kimmel’s informative tidbit about the first one 90 years ago lasting on 15 minutes.

That said, the Oscar goes to:

  • Actor in a Supporting Role

My pick was Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The winner was Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Okay, so right movie, wrong actor.

  • Actress in Supporting Role

My pick was Allison Janney in I, Tonya. The winner was Allison Janney.

  • Actress in Leading Role

My pick was Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The winner was Frances McDormand.

  • Actor in Leading Role

My pick was Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour. The winner was Gary Oldman.

  • Directing

My pick was Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water. The winner was Guillermo del Toro.

  • Best Picture

My pick was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The winner was The Shape of Water.

This actually vindicates the pet peeve I reprised in “My Picks” below about directors winning only to see their films lose.

But I really could have done without that Faye Dunaway-Warren Beatty mulligan. I mean, why make fun of a screw up that was utterly devastating to everyone associated with La La Land. No doubt you recall how these old biddies mistakenly announced that movie as the winner last year. It took someone interrupting La La Land’s producers and cast members in the midst of their acceptance speech to inform them that, in fact, Moonlight had won.

Kobe Bryant, Oscar Winner…?

My focus on the main six notwithstanding, I would be remiss not to mention Kobe Bryant. He looked as surprise as I was when he won the Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball. It is an animated dramatization of the love letter he wrote to the game that made him a household name … and a fortune.

But the irony, if not the hypocrisy, could not have been lost on anyone of a certain age. After all, Bryant was as much the poster boy for the MeToo reckoning that should have come in 2003, as Thelma & Louise was for the female empowerment in Hollywood that should have come in 1991.

I have called Bryant out over the years in many commentaries, including in “Michael Vick: Superstar NFL Quarterback Sued for Passing Herpes,” April 9, 2005, and “Bill Cosby Pays Off Woman Who Accused Him of Rape,” November 13, 2006. This, for allegedly raping a teenage hotel receptionist in Colorado, and then paying her millions to buy her silence after local authorities arrested and charged him with rape. He reportedly gave his wife millions more to buy her forgiveness – complete with a boulder-size diamond ring, which she showed off without any hint of humiliation or shame.

More to the point, though, why did Academy voters give him a pass?

The only thing that explains this award is that most people in Hollywood spent the past 15 years worshiping Bryant as the star of their favorite hometown sports team, the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, I’d bet my life savings that a survey of any home game would find more members of the Academy attending than members of any other group or association.

For them, awarding Bryant this Oscar was the least they could do as payback for all the years he entertained and thrilled them on the court.

Related commentaries:
Oscars: My picks

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