Oscar Recap: SAG (and also kind of BAFTA) got it right

E: What’s that you say? How could both SAG and BAFTA get it right, when they had absolutely opposing winners? Simple.

SAG’s winners corresponded exactly to the winners of the four acting awards, and Best Picture. BAFTA did not align in the major categories at all. But BAFTA did show us the undercurrent of the second most popular film of the evening, the one that picked up the lion’s share of the technical awards – All Quiet on the Western Front – despite most people assuming Elvis would stock up there. It just goes to show you that people are hard to predict, and AMPAS members are no exception.

While only Ke Huy Quan was expected to win, Curtis, Fraser and Yeoh were all in close contention. So last night was still exciting – much more exciting than a normal Oscar telecast, in a good way – but not shocking. Everything Everywhere All at Once put on a great showing – 7 Oscars, in the most dominating performance in many years. In fact, it’s almost become the norm these days that picture and director don’t line up, so it was pretty refreshing to see people rewarded for making the work that was considered the best.

Of course all this is subjective, right? There’s no such general thing as the best picture, just personal preferences.

Speaking of preferences, this is what I didn’t love about the show:

The fact that Disney owns ABC does not give them the right to put a commercial for The Little Mermaid in the middle of the telecast. Buy an ad like everyone else. Give yourself a discount, even! The animated film is indeed a classic. But it was totally inappropriate to put it into the show. (Also – and again, personal preference – I thought the graphics looked terrible. I don’t generally like the aesthetics of Disney’s live action remakes, with their aim to look cartoony, and this was exactly that. Just pick a side, please – be live action, or a cartoon, but stop trying to be both! I do have a plus, so stay tuned.)

It’s not that they were bad, but I could have done without Jimmy Kimmel’s mid-show questions to the audience.

The first two song nominees were terrible. Was it just a bad year for music? Because, yikes. Those were genuinely bad songs. I don’t understand how they got nominated.

A couple of the award groupings were weird. Documentary Feature with Live Action Short? Who thought that made sense?

Even though I loved The Elephant Whisperers, I was sorry to see the absolutely breath-taking Stranger at the Gate lose. Watch it! It’s out there! Watch them both! The same is true of Navalny and Fire of Love.

In the Middle:

I understand that people can’t all speak as long as they want or the show would go on forever. I appreciate that they didn’t really play anyone off, but I wish they’d told the nominees that they’d only allow one person to speak for the group for the smaller awards. It was really sad to see so many people come up to the mike, only for it to be turned off. And it just kept happening.

Did we need an appearance from Cocaine Bear? For that long?

So this is what I liked:

I can take or leave Jimmy Kimmel, but he did a perfectly fine job. The idea of the dancers from the RRR number Bollywood dancing too chatty winners off stage? Genius. I almost wish they’d done that.

Halle Bailey sure can sing! Love her for Ariel, even though I wish Disney would just stop with the live action remakes.

The other three song nominees were really good, and highlights of the show. I loved Lady Gaga performing in a t-shirt and leggings with all her make up wiped off.

“Naatu Naatu” was so much fun! I loved the dance, and the song parody of “Top of the World” that the winner sang. I’m a sucker for a song parody. It’s a pleasure as always to see award show staple, So You Think You Can Dance‘s Alex Wong in the company. (I guess people are mad that the dancers are mixed races, but so were the people in the movie scene that inspired the routine.). RRR was one of the available films I didn’t get a chance to watch, and I’d definitely going to remedy that.

Weirdly, some of my favorite fashion of the night came from stars who presented Best Song nominees – Danai Gurira (minus the Marge Simpson hair), Cara Delvingne, and Deepika Padukone definitely brought the wow.

Troy Kotsur and Ariana DeBose (speaking of So You Think You Can Dance alums) should present everything. I just love them. They both looked fantastic, and were so supportive and emotional! I wept copiously through the supporting awards and loved that DeBose did too.

And, oh, those winners. Just like Ariana, and Ke Huy Quan himself, I was immediately teary over the best supporting actor win – Ke’s speech was so impassioned, so deeply felt, so exuberantly joy-filled, and the night full of so many touchstones for him (his Encino Man costar Brendan Fraser winning as well, hobnobbing with Spielberg, getting the Best Picture award from Harrison Ford). It was the American dream made flesh, and an was an all-time great moment.

I was personally really conflicted over who should win supporting actress – both Angela Bassett and Jamie Lee Curtis are fully deserving as skilled actors, and it was hard to see Angela lose again. The look on her face! Heartbreaking. AMPAS, you better not let her go another twenty something years between nominations. She’s a national treasure.

That said (and here’s the rub of a competition) you can’t help feel the contagious joy and generosity of spirit bursting out of Jamie Lee Curtis. When she dedicated her Oscar to so many different kinds of people! (My kids, who mostly know her from the memes of her Golden Globes evening) were particularly thrilled to see her thank her husband, the six fingered man from The Princess Bride.) And to genre movies! What a roar that got from the crowd. And her parents, nominees Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, who never won! So moving.

Jenny the donkey!

The Navalny family on stage!

Presenters Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors ad-libbing support to their fellow Marvel star Angela Bassett. “Hey, Auntie. We love you.”

Kudos to the Rock for pulling off a shiny peach jacket. I don’t know how that worked, but it did. Also to the woman who directed The Elephant Whisperers for her beaded floral gown – Kartiki Gonsalves, I think? Stunning.

Costume designer Ruth Carter, who became the first Black woman to win a second Oscar, only days from her mother’s death, speaking to how Wakanda Forever helped prepare her for that grief. Weep!

There’s something delightfully mad cap about the EEAAO cast and crew – it’s clear they’ve made a family of each other, but from editor Paul Rogers (only on his second film!) to multiple wins for the Daniels, to the epically supportive cast.

Speaking of the Daniels, they had something fresh and interesting to say every time. Shout outs to Emerson College (maybe that was just the announcer but as a Massachusetts native I loved it), to the teachers who formed them, to their previous crazy work and imposter syndrome, to being products of our context and to finding the people who help unlock each other’s genius, well, I was (as a college friend used to say) sopping that up with a biscuit. Delicious.

Loved Halle Berry stepping in for Will Smith – especially poignant since she was able to give Michelle Yeoh her Oscar, the first woman of color to win best actress handing off to the second. It’s nice for the showrunners when stacking the deck like that actually works out.

Angela Bassett holding hands with Austin Butler. Oh my lord. I’m sure it’s always hard to lose, because even when you know someone else is supposed to win who can help but hope? But when you’re in real contention, like the two of them were? It must be utterly devastating. (Cate Blanchett seemed pretty chill about her loss, but I’m sure it helps to have two Oscars already). Anyhow, their little mutual support group was lovely. And he went from former child star to Oscar nominee in one fell swoop, which hopefully still feels good. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Brendan Fraser’s breathless expression of wonder: “So this is what the multiverse looks like!” Like Ke, he has such endearing humility, and has come through so much. Hollywood loves a comeback! My kids were thrilled to see George of the Jungle win.

Michelle Yeoh! No question, Cate Blanchett was fabulous in Tar, and she’ll continue being fabulous in lots of deep, deep projects. But Michelle Yeoh is largely seen as an action star, and doesn’t get offered those kind of gifts. So it’s splendid to see her rewarded, and the explosions of joy from her costars. For all the kids who look like her, to know that this is possible. And ladies, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re past your prime.

Sigh. I’m still feeling the glow of that, really.

This entry was posted in TV.

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