One of the latter for me was Jordan Peele getting Best Original Screenplay for Get Out, the first African American to receive an Academy Award in this category.
As a fan of the movie as well as his now classic comedy series Key & Peele, this win was beyond wonderful and frankly, I wasn't sure if he would get it.
My hunch was that Greta Gerwig was going to be the winner here since the Oscar folks would want to give her something for Ladybird(which they didn't as it turned out). I knew that Peele was a long shot to win anything for this film, due to it being a horror movie that some Academy voters didn't watch or consider an "Oscar worthy" movie.
However, Get Out overcame some of that genre snobbery when it came to writing. In a film that holds more than one type of terror within it's framework, story structure and dialogue become all the more meaningful in order to convey the growing levels of tension. That tone of quiet fear and unspoken menace can be tricky to develop on page and screen but Peele's screenplay balances those much needed highs and lows nicely:
Mudbound deserved to be up for Best Picture,Best Actor(Jason Mitchell),Best Director and a whole slew of other categories. Yes, I knew full well that Mary J. Blige for Best Supporting Actress(along with Best Song, that she sang beautifully) was the longest of shots but they could have at least made some more Hollywood history by giving cinematographer Rachel Morrison the win.
Having the first woman to win in that category would have been a fine tip of the hat there to the MeToo/Time'sUp movement, not to mention open the door for other women in that field to follow through. Dee Rees really ought to have been up for Best Director and at one point, I thought she might get Best Adapted Screenplay(it went to James Ivory instead).
On the other hand, Rees was honored at the Independent Spirit Awards the night before, receiving their Robert Altman award for the film and giving an amazingly awesome speech. Perhaps one day, the Academy will be fortunate enough to center their spotlight on her for the next wonderful film she is bound to give us in the future:
However, I think the Oscars in general could use a little more spontaneity in their proceedings(and I don't mean that envelope mix-up from last year either!) from time to time. A major reason that the ratings are going down for the show is that everyone involved takes themselves way too seriously when it comes to the films they choose to celebrate.
Sure, stuff like The Post, Dunkirk and Darkest Hour are typical "serious" Oscar fare, along with the occasional quirky/indie flavored offerings like Ladybird and The Shape of Water to round things out.
Yet, they continue to ignore the films that mass audiences truly take to such as Wonder Woman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and just about any Marvel movie. Yes, some of them do get their place in the cinematic sun during the technical categories, which is rightly so, but would it be so terrible if those genre features were also respected for their acting, writing and directing?
A little leeway in these areas would not only bring better ratings but also bring more people into the film world fold, seeing that the art of movies is not just formal wear. Take a hint from presenters Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, folks-taking off your fancy shoes and being real with your audience can be the best way to get them on your side:
I have to catch up on all of these movies but am in no doubt of their quality. However, there is more noteworthy material out there that wasn't recognized and while you can't cover the entire entertainment waterfront with one show, it's always good to strive for the better next time out.
Much like art itself, the Oscars need to evolve with the times and while giving a little focus to the issues of women, people of color and the LGBT community here is good, that has to be backed up with way more inclusion reflected in the nominations. Don't rest on your laurels, my movie making friends-work towards making real progress on and off screen: