Let’s dive right in. War For the Planet of the Apes should have won Best Visual Effects, or at the very least it’s a tie between it and the winner, Blade Runner 2049. I just bought the Blu-rays of both of these films yesterday, and admittedly, I may be biased towards the one I literally saw for the first time earlier today (I haven’t seen Blade Runner 2049 since I saw it in IMAX upon its initial theatrical release). But Apes‘ stunning character work in translating the performances of Andy Serkis and company into a heard of nigh-photorealistic primates is quite possibly more impressive than the incredibly imaginative future world of Blade Runner.
It’s shocking to me that this is the first Oscar win for Gary Oldman, one of the most versatile actors alive today, and even more shocking that he’s apparently only been nominated one other time (for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). As much as my thoughts on both Churchill’s and Oldman’s real-life character have soured a bit recently, this is still a hell of a performance in Darkest Hour, even if I might say that, much like Leonardo DiCaprio’s win for The Revenant, it feels more like a lifetime achievement award than something for this specific film (and in DiCaprio’s case, an intervention to get him to please stop torturing himself on camera). Would’ve been nice to have seen this award go to Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya though.
I’m not a fan of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (especially when its commentary on race is apparently seen as palatable to the Oscar crowd where Get Out‘s was not?), but Frances McDormand seemed quite good in it, so I suppose I won’t get too salty over her taking Best Actress over Sally Hawkin’s tear-jerking sign language performance in The Shape of Water.
Roger Deakins FINALLY gets his due after thirteen nominations for Best Cinematography for his work on Blade Runner 2049. Guy’s one of the most talented cinematographers in the industry (just to name a few, he also did Skyfall, No Country For Old Men, The Shawshank Redemption, The Big Lebowski, A Beautiful Mind, and both How To Train Your Dragon films).
Get Out may not have taken Best Director or Picture, but at least someone in the academy appreciated Jordan Peele’s masterpiece of a debut, as he took Best Original Screenplay. And on the subject of screenplays, I was REALLY pulling for Logan to win, partially because it’s a fantastically written film and partially because as a huge nerd I wanted to see the legitimization of comic book material as artful material to draw from by the snobbier parts of the industry (I’ll still maintain that Captain America: Civil War deserved a Best Adapted Screenplay for how well it interwove character relationships and viewpoints from a dozen previous films into an incredibly solid narrative with real weight, and that Ryan Reynolds deserved an Oscar for how uncannily well he captured Deadpool basically straight from panel to screen). Alas, twas not to be, but I’ve heard great things about Call Me By Your Name, so it’s fine. At the very least, The Disaster Artist didn’t win, as that’s a terrible adaptation that cuts out the parts of the book that are pretty damning of its subject in order to sell a more uplifting story.
Coco won Best Animated Feature. It probably deserved it, the only movie nominated that maybe approached it in terms of quality might have been Loving Vincent (though I’ve heard good stuff about The Breadwinner too). But let’s not forget how the actual REASON it won was that a majority of the Academy are crusty snobs who don’t give a damn about animation, which is why a) Pixar wins almost every year, because they know who Pixar is and that they make great movies, so they pick them by default, and b) Ferdinand and The Boss Baby were nominated for the same category as the three already listed, while The Lego Batman Movie was left off, because apparently a bunch of influential Academy members stepped on one too many Legos when they were little.
…I apologize a little for that last paragraph, I’m very passionate. Anyways…
Mark Hamill was 1000% snubbed for not even getting a Best Supporting Actor nomination, much less the win he should have been accepting tonight rather than presenting stuff. Don’t get me wrong, all of the nominations in that category were pretty good this year (I’ll always pull for Willem Dafoe especially, and while I don’t know if his performance in Three Billboards is specifically deserving of the win he attained, I have a soft spot for Sam Rockwell), but it’s Hamill’s work on The Last Jedi that both made my face hurt from smiling and made me dehydrated from openly weeping that I feel should have at least been recognized.
With both Best Director and Best Picture, the personal battle for me was between Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water. I enjoyed both of these films immensely, and would have been more or less equally satisfied whichever one took the prize. Del Toro ended up taking both categories, and I’m thrilled. He’s a director that has always been shown to be exceptionally skilled and undervalued at his craft, as well as a fantastic human being. The point he made tonight during his Best Picture acceptance speech, about using the medium of genre fiction (i.e. monster movies, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) to bring up real-world ideas and issues in a powerful way, is one that really resonates with me. I hope he makes dozens more films and wins dozens more Oscars.