BY ROGER THOMAS
Let’s start at the end. Several years ago, some other awards show had a misstep, maybe it was the “Miss Universe” confusion, and I remember someone interviewed an Academy Award representative. He clarified that there were intentional safety measures to make sure that the “Oscars” would never make a mistake like some others had made. Oh well, that hope is gone.
As everyone already knows, this past Sunday night, February 26, 2017, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the “Best Picture Oscar” to the wrong film. Accountants came out quickly but speeches were already made and ultimately, there was nothing to do except hand the Oscars to the real winners. Everyone on stage, the filmmakers of “La La Land” who thought they had won and the creators of “Moonlight” who actually did win were very cordial to one another. That was the positive about all of this. However, it seems sad for those who did not win, and those who did not actual have that special moment when their film is called. In the chaos, there was no going back to the traditional presentation. Those closing moments will always eclipse everything else that happened at the “89th Academy Awards.”
But some other things did happen. First, I predicted seventeen of the twenty-four awards. Not my best showing, but also not my worst predictions.
Almost every one I missed was because I predicted “La La Land” I had that film winning Costumes, Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Best Picture. The film lost those five categories and others I did not predict them winning: Actor or Original Screenplay. The film did win six oscars: Emma Stone for Best Actress, Cinematography, Production Design. Directing, Original Score, and Original Song. “La La Land” had two nominations for Best Song; “City of Stars” beat my favorite, “Audition.”
The film with the second most awards was the actual winner of Best Picture, “Moonlight.” This film won three awards, Best Picture, Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali and Adapted Screenplay.
Two other films received multiple awards: “Hackshaw Ridge” won for Editing and Sound Mixing while “Manchester by the Sea” won Best Actor and Original Screenplay. I was pleased for both of these two films because they had both made my “Top Ten” list.
Eleven other films each received one award: Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress for “Fences,” the film “Arrival” won Sound Editing, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” won Costumes, “The Jungle Book” won Visual Effects, “Suicide Squad” won Makeup and Hair, and “Zootopia” won Animated Feature.
Among the Documentaries and Short Films, “Sing” won for Live Action Short, “Piper” won Animated Short, “The White Helmets” won Documentary Short, “O. J.: Made in America” won Feature Documentary. I predicted three out of four of those and was especially pleased that “Made in America” won the Documentary; the film runs seven and half hours but it is well worth watching for anyone who remembers that tragic story of celebrity and murder. I am also glad that both sweet “Piper” and “Sing” won. By the way, this short film, “Sing” is live action, not the animated “Sing” with animals singing pop songs.
Finally, “The Salesman” won for Foreign Language film as I predicted. I have seen four of the five nominees. I am still waiting to see, “Land of Mine” based on a true story of young boys attempting to disarm mines left in the ground following World War II. Of the foreign films I saw, I liked “A Man Called Ove” and “The Salesman” equally; two very different films but both worth seeing.
So another “Oscars” has come and gone. May 2018 be filled with as many powerful and creative films as this past year. I was stunned by how much “La La Land” moved me. I regretted it when the Academy did not recognize “Silence” more for its brilliance. I cried deeply when I realized what was happening in “Manchester by the Sea.” I found the center story of “Moonlight” to behold one of the greatest adolescent performances ever. Viola Davis gave the best speech of Oscar night when she won for “Fences.” I was thrilled when “Hacksaw Ridge” got recognized twice and my inner child would have been deeply disappointed if “The Jungle Book” had not taken Visual Effects. I want to cheer for the children in “Sing.” And the list could go on and on, but alas, the films of 2016, which were celebrated at the 2017 Oscars, are done. May we be as blessed in 2017 as we have been this past year.
2016 was quite a year at the cinema and the 2017 Academy Awards was quite a night at the Oscars.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.