The 90th Academy Awards broadcast highlighted progress on topics like gender and racial equality while stressing the need for further change. Ultimately the big winner of the night transcended race, even species, with “The Shape of Water” taking the prize for best picture.
“I am an immigrant, like many, many of you, and in the last 25 years, I’ve been living in a country all of our own,” said director Guillermo del Toro, who won the best director trophy earlier in the night. “I think the greatest thing that our industry does is erase the line in the sand.”
“What a delightful and powerful night,” posted Ashley Judd, who appeared with Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek on stage and with Mira Sorvino on the red carpet ahead of time – all four are among the women who have accused disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
Jordan Peele, who became the first black screenwriter to take best original screenplay honors, saluted those who made “Get Out” such a sensation. The sinister and brilliant horror movie where racism is the true monster also was up for best picture and netted Daniel Kaluuya a best leading actor nod.
“I want to dedicate this to all the people who who raised my voice and let me make this movie,” Peele said during his acceptance speech.
There was little in the way of Hollywood silliness; even the appearance of “Star Wars” drone BB-8, who rolled onto the stage with Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac and Kelly Marie Tran, conveyed a social message
“BB-8 wants to know why he’s the only one not dressed in a tuxedo,” Isaac said, pretending to interpret the robot’s beeps. Hamill followed up with a clumsy line about robot discrimination.
The hilarious Tiffany Haddish, who already had stolen the show during the red carpet by introducing herself in comic fashion to Meryl Streep, provided some of the broadcast’s heartiest laughs while presenting with Maya Rudolph.
“A few years ago, people were saying that Oscars were so white. And since then some real progress has been made,” Rudolph said.
“But when we came out together, we know some of you were thinking, ‘Are the Oscars too black now?’” Haddish said.
“We just wanna say, don’t worry. There are so many more white people to come today,” Rudolph said.
“So many! We just came from backstage and there are tons of them back there!” Haddish continued. “And not just movie stars—there are white people walking around with headsets, white people with clipboards. Now, I’m personally not a fan of white people with clipboards, because I’m always wondering what are they writing down about me?”
Another highlight happened during a broadcast break, as Netflix aired the trailer for Kevin Spacey-free final season of “House of Cards”:
Jimmy Kimmel opened on a self-effacing note, referencing last year’s horrendous gaffe where “La La Land” was mistakenly crowned the best-picture winner when in fact “Moonlight” had won. (The best-picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway reunited for duty and performed flawlessly this year).
His monologue and banter were fairly light on political commentary, with just a few mild jabs at President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Kimmel encouraged winners to say whatever they wanted during their acceptance speeches, suggesting the Parkland high school students’ activism regarding gun control in the wake of the shooting spree at their school as a topic.
Then he enticed everyone to keep it short and sweet with promises of a Jet Ski for whoever wrapped things up most quickly, and kept up his end of the bargain. “Phantom Thread” costume designer Mark Bridges claimed the prize in addition to his best costume design trophy after he expressed thanks in 36 seconds. (For some reason there was time for Kimmel and a few others to shoot hot dogs from a cannon at a nearby theater audience).
Best actress winner Frances McDormand took a good bit longer than 36 seconds after her win for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri,” as she had every nominated woman stand for recognition, then sent “Inclusion Rider” trending.
Atlanta had some ties among this year’s crop of nominations including Allison Janney, who won for best supporting actress for her role as Tonya Harding’s mother in Georgia-filmed “I, Tonya.”
She, too, sent Twitter ablaze with the ironic opener to her acceptance remarks. Before a long list of thank-you tributes she quipped, “I did it all by myself.”