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2017 POST-AA RAMBLINGS

Accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz of PriceWaterHouseCoopers confer with Warren Beatty following the now infamous envelope mix-up

Friday March 10,  2017  

THE SHOW (*** 1/2)
Well-THAT was fun!!  But only if you stayed up nine minutes past the interminable three hour ten minute mark.  As the photo above shows, the dude with the headset is not one of the producers of the "winning" film (initially and erroneously announced as La La Land) about to give a rousing acceptance speech, but is actually stage manager Garry Natoli.  On the left are the two Price-Waterhouse employees whose only duty was handing out the coveted winners cards to the presenters.  On the right is a befuddled Warren Beatty, whose sole purpose, along with co-presenter Faye Dunaway, was to announce the most important winner of the evening for Best Picture. What nearly everyone on the planet now knows, this was the Oscar show for the ages after the wrong film was announced and the mistake realized only after acceptance speeches were in full swing by the losing film producers!  Classic!! 

I gave the show 3 1/2 stars based mainly on two factors:  the incredible drama that played out over the last 10 minutes as just described, and the admirable job by first-time host Jimmy Kimmel.  His quips and jabs were on-the-mark more often than not; and his unusually calm demeanor belied any hint of nervousness - delivering each joke with such smoothness that brought to mind the memorable multiple hosting duties by Bob Hope and, later, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal.  My only quibble:  this is an awards show that should not have a political agenda.  However, in these divisive times, and judging from the agenda on display at the most recent award shows, that would have been way too much to ask for.  And, although Kimmel's references to the current occupants of The White House were generously sprinkled throughout the telecast, none were terribly biting or blatantly disrespectful.  

Once again this year, over produced musical numbers were few and far between. And, as have been the norm in recent years, a few bits involving the audience reared its ugly head, such as dropping parachutes into the audience replete with snacks, and bringing unsuspecting tour bus patrons into the Dolby Theater who were punked into believing they were visiting a celebrity home (more on that later).  

As for the ratings, the viewership just keeps on plummeting.  This years total of 32.9 million viewers was lower than last years 34.4 million, and came dangerously close to 2008's total of 32 million (the all-time low when Jon Stewart hosted).  Maybe the colossal Best Picture flub will have a few more folks watching next year - but I doubt it.

Finally, in a year where "The Electoral College vs The Popular Vote" is getting so much press, I might add that, ever since The Best Picture category was expanded in 2010 a similar method is used to award The BP Oscar. This might account for Moonlight's win over heavy favorite La La Land, the latter of which may have initially garnered the most first place votes but eventually lost out in the end due to the complicated process.

Once again, my annual apologies to Sergio Leone, as this breakdown will pretty much sum up the event through this reviewer's eyes:

THE GOOD
Jimmy Kimmel.  I would vote for him to MC the 90th edition.  However, even if invited back, would he even want to be associated any longer with this utterly thankless task? 

- The elimination of the "thank you" crawl during acceptance speeches which last year were present to speed up the awardees.  For the most part, this year the orchestra remained silent as the majority of the speeches were, thankfully, short and concise. 

- The opening.  In a stark break from tradition, the upbeat nominated song "Can't Stop The Feeling" from the animated Trolls, opened the show with Justin Timberlake and dancers performing in the aisles and had many in the audience jumping to their feet while gyrating to the beat.

- The surprise introduction onstage of the real-life NASA mathematician Patricia Johnson portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the nominated Hidden Figures.

- Thankfully, only a couple of speeches leaned toward the political left. 

- The voting academy saw to it that, at least for a year, no longer will there be the lack of diversity issue that dominated twitter (#OscarsSoWhite) after last years nominees were announced, and awarded Oscars to a record number of Blacks.  

- Finally!  The 21st time is the charm.  Kevin O'Connell wins the sound mixing Oscar (for Hacksaw Ridge).  It's always good not to get your first award posthumously. 

- The beautiful moving performance by Sara Bareilles performing Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" during the In Memoriam segment.

- No self-serving political rant from Meryl Streep who, thankfully, didn't present or win.

- The only montage was an effective one:  showing previous Oscar acting winners before this years winners were announced. 

- The incredible drama produced by the most memorable bungle in award show history. Too bad most of the viewing audience had already checked out before seeing it live. The happiest person on the planet has to be Steve Harvey who announced the runner-up contestant as the winner of the 2015 Miss Universe Contest.
   
THE BAD
- Despite minimal political references which had me putting it in "The Good" column above, the fact that ANY were spoken are out of place during the annual pat-on-the-back "entertainment" extravaganza; and that fact puts it in my "Bad" column.

- Each year one can count on at least one notable omission from the In Memoriam segment.  This time around the producers outdid themselves by not honoring, most notably, comedian Garry Shandling, Robert Vaughn, Florence Henderson and Doris Roberts. The argument could be put forth that they were better known for their TV work; however Mary Tyler Moore was included in the list as well as musician Prince. Not to be outdone merely by these omissions, they also included a photo of still living producer Jan Chapman while mistakenly identifying her as the late fashion designer Janet Patterson.  Must have come as a shock to Ms. Chapman!

- The show went 19 minutes over their three hour time slot.  Two minutes shorter than last year but still way too long.

- It isn't right that the Best Director didn't direct the Best Picture.  Of the 89 films winning Best Picture, only 62 directors of those movies won.  

-The ratings.  The smallest since 2008 and trending down the last three years.  This year the average viewership was 32.9 million, down almost one million from 2016.

THE UGLY
- Although it wasn't known until the next day, one of the tour bus folks, "Gary from Chicago", who received a lot of love from the audience (and was even gifted Jennifer Anniston's pricey shades), was actually a convicted rapist just released from prison three days earlier after serving twenty years.

- One of Kimmel's few missteps was poking fun at the name of Best Supporting Actor winners Mahershala Ali, which one could consider as borderline racist.  Another was the disrespectful tweet he sent to Trump that was posted on the giant screen above the stage.

-Kimmel mounting Lion's young Sunny Prawar on his shoulder miming the iconic scene from The Lion King.  However, the image of a white man holding up a brown child with African music playing might be conceived as having racial overtones and brought back memories of last years ill-conceived use of Asian children on stage that had many afterward charging insensitivity.  


AND NOW . . . THE ANNUAL JAY B CINEMA DIARY OSCAR SHOW AWARDS. THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE . . .

THE BIGGEST SURPRISE WINNER
Although you had to wait until the bitter end, Moonlight winning Best Picture had to be the biggest surprise of the night.  After La La Land  being the overwhelming pre-show favorite and already receiving six awards, it seemed a foregone conclusion that it would take home the big one.  However, the small powerful indie was undoubtedly helped immeasurably by the Academy's complicated voting process for determining Best Picture and ultimately became the evenings largest upset.  

THE LEAST SURPRISING WINNER
Viola Davis winning Best Supporting Actress ("Fences").

THE 2ND LEAST SURPRISING WINNER
The left-leaning Academy voting members awarding Viol Asghar Farhad (director of the foreign language winning The Salesman) who made good on his pre-show promise to skip the awards in protest of the administration's immigration policy.  A fine film but not nearly as deserving as Germany's Toni Erdmann. 

THE OSCAR WINNER WHO HAD THE BEST WEEK
Mahershala Ali who not only won an Oscar for Moonlight but also became a father for the first time when his daughter was born four days earlier.

THE BEST ENDING TO THE LONGEST LOSING STREAK IN OSCAR HISTORY
Kevin O'Connell who ended his losing streak with his Sound Mixing Oscar for Hacksaw Ridge.

BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Viola Davis.  Her speech was so awe-inspiring that Kimmel right afterward said that she just won an Emmy for it.  

2ND BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Kevin O'Connell who talked about how his late mom helped him to win his first job as a sound man.  When he asked her how he could ever thank her, she told him to "go win an Oscar and you can stand up on that stage and and you can thank me in front of the whole world.  Mom, I know you're looking down on me tonight.  So, thank you."  With that, O'Connell walked off the stage clutching a Oscar after 34 years and 19 unsuccessful nominations.

MOST OSCARS WON
La La Land with six out of its record-tying fourteen noms.

THE MOST WELCOMED LOSER OF THE NIGHT
Meryl Streep so the world wouldn't have to be subjected to yet another political rant.

THE LONGEST FILM TO WIN AN OSCAR
The Best Documentary winner, O.J.:  MADE IN AMERICA, at 467 minutes, beat War and Peace by a half hour.

THE YOUNGEST DIRECTOR TO WIN AN OSCAR
Damiaen Chazelle who, at 32, was a couple of months younger than Norman Taurog who won in 1931 for Skippy.  

FIRST WOMAN PRODUCER TO WIN TWO OSCARS
Dede Gardner (Moonlight) who also won for 12 Years A Slave. 

FIRST MUSLIM TO WIN AN OSCAR
Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor (Moonlight).

BEST OPENING TO THE OSCARS IN YEARS
Justin Timberlakes's rousing performance of the nominated song "Can't Stop The Feeling".

BEST RUNNING JOKE
Kimmel's long-running "feud" with Matt Damon.  Kimmel revealed on his late-night show the following night that he was supposed to end the Oscars while seated next to Damon in the audience.  We never got to see that ending as Jimmy ended up on stage trying to explain the debacle that was occurring in full view of the world.

BEST ACADEMY AWARD BROMANCE
Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling - who appeared together a million years ago on The Mickey Mouse Club.  Timberlake was shown hugging his long-ago co-star just before breaking into song and later mingling together during the show.

THE MOST TROLLED AUDIENCE MEMBER
Nicole Kidman and her ridiculous clapping

BEST POLITICAL JOKE
Kimmel talking about the country's current state of  divisiveness and then poking fun at Mel Gibson stating, "There's only one braveheart in this room, and he's not going to unite us either."

BEST PRE-RECORDED BIT
Stars expounding on what films they loved.  Later, Kimmel used the format to further rip Damon saying how much he "admired" Damon's flop, We Bought a Zoo.

2ND BEST PRE-RECORDED BIT
Kimmel using one of his late-night bits:  having Hollywood Stars read actual mean tweets directed to them by "loving" fans

BEST RECOVERY FROM A NEAR ONSTAGE DISASTER
Moana star Auli'i Cravalho while performing the nominated song "How Far I'll Go" had a rendezvous with a dancer's flag without missing a beat. 

THE BEST REACTION TO THE AWARDS SHOW BY AN AUDIENCE MEMBER
John Legend's main squeeze, supermodel Chrissy Tiegen shown sleeping on Legend's shoulder during Casey Affleck's acceptance speech.  I suppose she was catching up on some zzz's before the after-parties.

THE WORST BLUNDER IN OSCAR HISTORY
Do I need to repeat it?

BEST WTF MOMENT
See the top of this article.

2ND BEST WTF MOMENT
When it came time to announce the Best Picture name on the card, a flustered and confused Warren Beatty handed the card to Faye Dunaway to call out the incorrect winner.  As Kimmel humorously explained on his late night show the next night, 50 years later, "Clyde threw Bonnie under the bus".  

3RD BEST WTF MOMENT
Kimmel lifting Lion's Sunny Pawar above his head.

THE WORST REVIEWED FILM TO EVER WIN AN OSCAR 
Suicide Squad which won for Makeup and Hairstyling.  Its honors this year also included two Razzies which salutes the worst of Hollywood offerings each year.

MOST GRACIOUS MOMENT BY AN OSCAR LOSER
The producers of La La Land after realizing they didn't win for Best Picture.

2017 OSCAR TELECAST PICS

Justin Timberlake opens the show performing 
"Can't Stop The Feeling" from "Trolls" 

Nominee Auli'i Cravalho performs "How Far I'll Go" from 
"Moana"

Sting performs "The Empty Chair" from "Jim: 
The James Foley Story"

John Legend performs a medley of  "City of 
Stars" and "Audition (Fools Who Dream)" from
"La La Land"

Kimmel and bus tourists greeting the audience

Emma Stone accepting the Best Actress Oscar
("La La Land")

Casey Affleck accepting the Best Actor Oscar
("Manchester by The Sea")

Mahershala Ali accepting his Best 
Supporting Actor Oscar ("Moonlight")

 Viola Davis accepting her Best
Supporting Actress Oscar
("Fences")

NASA physicist Katherine Johnson is 
surrounded by the actresses of "Hidden 
Figures" Janelle Monae (far left), Taraji P.
Henson (second from right) and Ocativa
Spencer (far right)

Charlize Theron (l) and Shirley Maclaine 
presenting the Oscar for the Best Foreign 
Language Film

Producer Jordan Horowitz ("La La Land" ) holds 
up the correct Best Picture card announcing
"Moonlight" as the true winner

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