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Oscars 2017: Meh, but That Ending…
02.27.17
TOPSHOT - US screenwriter Barry Jenkins celebrates after "Moonlight" won the Best Film award at the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The 89th Annual Academy Awards was a three-hour affair that will, in what is quickly becoming the defining characteristic of our age, be forever defined by one, late-breaking upset.

Let’s take a look at all the good, the bad and the weird from this year’s ceremony, starting with the instantly infamous event that fits all three categories.

GOOD/BAD/WEIRD

Moonlight wins Best Picture but only after La La Land is erroneously announced by a befuddled Warren Beatty.

In a move that is just waiting to be turned into a campy TV drama by Ryan Murphy, Beatty stared incredulously at the envelope, showed it to Faye Dunaway and announced La La Land as the winner of Best Picture. Minutes later, after most of the producers of La La Land have already made speeches, it’s revealed that Beatty had the wrong card or read the wrong card or something. This is a case for Sherlock Holmes or Maxine Waters. Either way, Moonlight was the rightful winner, resulting in a chaotic scene that was completely unprecedented in Oscar history. Nothing like this has ever happened before (at the Oscars. In reality it seems to be happening kind of all the time, so we should probably look into that or something.)

GOOD

Justin’s opening song!

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Singer/actor Justin Timberlake (C) performs onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

A great monologue can set the tone for a fun, glam evening but a bad monologue can produce an Oscars telecast that’s DOA. Choosing to open the show with Justin Timberlake’s energetic choreographed performance of “Can’t Stop the Feeling” was an ingenious move as it took the pressure off of Jimmy and had the stars on their feet. Folks were dancing in the aisles like it was curtain call at Mamma Mia.

No one could fight the feeling, although some stars were fighting the rhythm:

GOOD

Viola Davis’ magnificent win.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actress Viola Davis poses in the press room at the 89th annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Davis took her rightful place as an Oscar winner tonight for her fabulous performance in Fences. As is her habit, she gave a heartfelt speech that left everyone in a puddle of tears on the floor. With this win, Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy, a Tony and an Oscar for acting.

GOOD

Candy from the sky!

I’m not sure why we get so much delight from giving rich, famous people food during awards shows, but ever since Ellen delivered a pizza to the Oscars, it’s been a recurring gag. Jimmy attached movie theater candy to parachutes and enlisted the adorable Sunny Parwar from Lion to summon Lemonheads and Mike and Ikes from the sky. All candy should come this way.

WEIRD

Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Host Jimmy Kimmel onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. It was mostly… just kind of shady. Some of his zingers hit (like when he quipped about 2017’s movies, “Black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz.”) But most were huge misses and frequently toed a xenophobic line. He seemed perplexed by Mahershala Ali’s name and downright annoyed by the name of a tourist he brought in (more on that in minute). At a certain point you have to ask, how many people’s names can you make fun of in 2017?

BUT GOOD

Jimmy’s successful and relentless shading of Matt Damon.

The reheated long-running bit from Kimmel’s late-night talk show was a bright spot of his hosting tenure. Jimmy trash-talked Matt from the stage, played him off while he was introducing a category, mocked his performance in We Bought a Zoo and took every opportunity to throw as much shade as possible. More of that, please.

GOOD

Kate McKinnon, strutting out like a boss.


The SNL star came charging out like a wacky breath of fresh air to introduce two awards with Jason Bateman. While Bateman played the straight man, McKinnon ably took on Kristen Wiig and Steve Carell’s the weird, “What is an Awards Show” mantle.

WEIRD/GOOD

Gary and Vicky from Chicago.

TOPSHOT - A tourist brought into the Oscars as a surprise meets with Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali at the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

In a weird bit, Jimmy Kimmel brought an unsuspecting group of tourists into the auditorium in the middle of the ceremony. Engaged couple Gary and Vicky from Chicago quickly stole the show. While other tourists gawked (or, oddly, kissed Meryl’s hands), Gary and Vicky got to work videotaping their favorite stars for what will surely be the most fire “What We Did On Vacation” slideshow ever.

BAD

Jimmy tried to use Twitter but, like the ultimate dad, couldn’t figure it out.

Also, Mean Tweets was lackluster and kind of pointless. Like, we get it: People are terrible. JUST GIVE SOME RICH PEOPLE AWARDS PLEASE.

GOOD

The politics of the evening.

There was no way the 2017 Oscars would go off without some resistance from the arts community.

From Asghar Farhadi’s in-absentia statement to the blue ACLU ribbons, the present political moment was on everyone’s mind. Even Jimmy Kimmel’s awkward jokes sometimes struck a slightly resistant tone. There were no scorched earth acceptance speeches a la Meryl at the Golden Globes, but Hollywood sent a sometimes subtle (but always clear) message that prejudice and hate have no place here.

R. Eric Thomas is a playwright and person on the internet. He writes a daily humor column called “Eric Reads the News” on Elle.com. Read his Sunday Scaries diary for MR herePhotos by MARK RALSTON/AFP, Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic and Kevin Winter via Getty Images.

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  • Alex S

    I burst out laughing during both Mean Tweets and when he tweeted at Donald Trump, so I respectfully disagree

    • Lily

      Agreed! I think Jimmy Kimmel was a solid host and definitely kept it interesting & not too boring for an entire 3 hours. Kimmel knew how to tweet and the mean tweets were funny, so agree to disagree I guess. I was a fan!

  • Yvonne Dunlevie

    I’ll be watching Jackie Chan clapping for the rest of the day!!

  • Kate

    Technically

    • Kate

      WOOPS. Technically, didn’t Faye Dunaway announce La La Land as best picture? Beatty seemed so thrown off by the card which in retrospect makes a lot of sense. I thought that Kimmel was solid – don’t typically like him but was pleasantly surprised by him.

      • Erica H

        Yes it was Faye. Warren Beatty is getting was too much blame.

  • Andrea Raymer

    if you are going to do an Oscar edition of mean tweets and don’t include Meryl reading Trump’s tweets about her, them what is the point?

    • I was hoping she would read Trumps tweets when she presented. She didn’t win anything, so maybe she was waiting on that opportunity. That would’ve been perfection and uber satisfying to watch.

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    Mean Tweets were amazing!!! And all Matt Damon digs were hilarious. Beatty did clearly realize something was wrong, but Faye wasn’t picking up what he was putting down. She just saw “La La Land” on the card and went with it lol. I think at her age she’s at the “eh, one of them is going to win, doesn’t really matter who!” phase lol.

  • Gary will be the March Meme Theme.

  • kitmcc

    I thought Jimmy Kimmel was great! His Trump jokes were hilarious, the tweet to Trump, the bus load of tourists, the Matt Damon feud, the Meryl Streep ribbing, the mean tweet segment, the candy dropping, etc…I give him an A+.

  • I also enjoyed Jimmy’s hosting! Making fun of the names was silly, but overall, I think he did a great job. I was dying during the mean tweets when someone tweeted that Miles Teller looks like someone who would request Gangnam Style at a wedding. And yes, his continual feud with Matt Damon was hilarious. Playing him off stage while he presented was great and the segment of him watching We Bought a Zoo.

    Can we also talk about the injustice that it was that Amy Adams wasn’t nominated for best actress for Arrival??

  • Preppy_Lizzy

    I am not sure that Viola Davis is the first as Whoopi Goldberg is an EGOT winner.

  • Mon Valdés

    I think Kimmel did a pretty good job! And I feel so bad that everyone is bad-mouthing Warren Beatty, he was clearly confussed by what was on the envelope and showed Faye so she could give some insight. And I feel even worse that the production let the entire LaLaLand cast and crew come up to the stage and even begin to say their speech… they shoul’ve had an immediate response to it.

  • Madison Grace

    Didn’t even get to watch the oscars (horror, I know) so thanks for covering this HAHA

    Madison x

    MY BLOG: http://ww.bymybedside.com
    it’s not as cool as man repeller but lmao check it out

  • Amanda

    Why doesn’t anyone comment on the offensive points of Viola Davis’ speech? Namely when she says, “being an artist is the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” Is rhat not offensive to Doctors, Soldiers, Scientists? She should spend time with social workers and relief workers and people who work in hospices. People that have lost limbs so she can stand up there and give a narcissistic speech.

    • pamb

      I think that you (and many of my Republican friends on FB) are taking her words in a way she didn’t intend. To act is to ‘celebrate life’ by bringing different stories to life, for others to see and experience. Doctors and scientists literally save lives. Celebrate vs. save. See the difference?

      • b.e.g.

        I don’t think Amanda’s point makes her a Republican necessarily. She may be, but her comment doesn’t exactly suggest that. I am a Dem through and through, and I agree with Amanda. Perhaps V.D. didn’t mean it the way it came out….

        • pamb

          Amanda may not be Republican, but the only people commenting like her on my FB feed were Republicans. It’s usually easy to tell what the ‘talking points’ of the day are, imo.

          I do think that V.D. meant it in a “actors help explain the human condition” way, not a “we literally save lives” way.

          • b.e.g.

            I guess more than anything what I was trying to say is that just because a person has an opinion such as Amanda here, we shouldn’t be pointing fingers at others, as in “you Republican, you Democrat.” A difference of opinion doesn’t always place us neatly into such divided camps, Dems, Reps, etc. We can disagree on something without it having to be a Rep or Dem position. It’s called discourse. And it is rapidly disappearing from American horizon.

          • pamb

            I agree with you in theory, but when I see the same ‘talking points’ practically repeated verbatim, I know where the comment is coming from.

          • b.e.g.

            Yeah, I have to agree with you on that. Repeat, repeat, repeat, over and over the same b/s and the ignorant masses will say, “it must be true, see, they said it on the news.” Unfortunately it is a tactic that works. And they have been practicing it over and over. To the current state of affairs. You can say anything, don’t have to have verifiable facts. Heck, they make up stuff, admit to having made it up, and still the idiots believe it, even after they admit they made it up/lied. Very sad. We can’t even trust the news, never mind what you read on the internet.

    • belle

      It was poorly phrased but after mulling it over I think she made a very good point. In her career she brings characters to life in a way that is so powerful and immersive, that you don’t really experience anywhere else outside of the arts. I think the use of the word “celebrate” is very important, of course there are other professions that spend their days saving lives, encouraging quality of life, and fighting on behalf of the lives of those less fortunate than them. The way I ultimately understood it is that she feels privileged to be able to share those stories with such a wide audience, especially in a world where black women like her are typically disadvantaged.

  • pamb

    I’m receiving this after 2 on Monday, so I’m not sure when it was written… but it was proven last night via freeze frame that Warren Beatty was given the incorrect envelope. I know it’s funny to make fun of Old People, and even I, an Old Person, thought Warren messed up. But we now know there are two copies of each envelope, in case of loss, and Brian Somebody (wonder if you still have a job, Brian!) gave Warren the Best Actress envelope instead of Best Picture.

    I’m not expecting Serious Journalism, but it would be nice to see the facts reported.

  • b.e.g.

    Eric, criticizing for its sake only is pointless. Many felt that Kimmel was superb, kept it fun, light hearted, his jokes are his jokes. Ever watch him on TV? Why would that be different here? Personally, I feel he failed on the Matt Damon feud, because like him or not, good actor or not, the Zoo movie was a great family movie. Matt Damon is involved in many great projects, or perhaps you weren’t paying attention Sunday night. No one mentioned Matt Damon purposely tripping Kimmel coming down the aisle past Damon, that was hilarious. Matt exclaims “What?” with an arm gesture when Kimmel gave him a mean sideways look. Look for it. Childish, but fun.

    Oh yeah, and watch your grammar: “took the pressure off of Jimmy” is incorrect grammar. In this situation the word OFF includes the word OF. It should read “took the pressure off Jimmy.” Ask Leandra, she knows. You made others, but this one is a pet peeve of mine. That is, if you want to be respected as a writer.

  • Yue

    > The reheated long-running bit from Kimmel’s late-night talk show was a bright spot of his hosting tenure. Jimmy trash-talked Matt from the stage, played him off while he was introducing a category, mocked his performance in We Bought a Zoo and took every opportunity to throw as much shade as possible. More of that, please.

    I love you but do I need to introduce you to Kara Brown’s shade court? Shade != trash talking by definition.

    Also agreed that Jimmy making fun of names was gross. It made me think about why my mom changed her name and why she picked the whitest name possible for me.

  • I thought Jimmy’s opening monologue was so frickin funny I actually went back and watched it again. And #MerylSaysHi? Brilliant.