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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