Forget leading actor and actress, here are some alternative award categories from Sunday evening’s ceremony that deserve an honourable mention.
Most elephants in the room shot
The opening monologue is always the biggest part of the Oscar host’s job, as it has to spin several plates: be funny, but not gratuitously offensive; address politics, but not alienate a mass audience.
It’s tricky enough in an easy year – in 2013, Seth McFarlane’s We Saw Your Boobs song went down like a £3.99 Londis Merlot and has aged just about as well – but this year host Jimmy Kimmel had a monster challenge, with the #MeToo movement dominating Hollywood, several stars with allegations hanging over their heads, and also the matter of the Moonlight / La La Land mistake that marred last year’s event.
Kimmel tackled them head-on – “this year, when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away” – and he mentioned Weinstein by name.
There was no joke, just a straight, “we can’t let bad behaviour slide anymore. the world is watching us, we need to set an example.”
After a barnstorming few minutes on stage after accepting her long-predicted best actress Oscar, Frances McDormand left with two words: “Inclusion rider”.
Many covering the event thought she had said “inclusion writer”, but actually she was referring to a proposal circulating that, where appropriate, actors include a clause in their contract that their films feature a cast that broadly represents the actual social make-up of their society.
Google even retweeted a graphic showing the surge in interest in the term, which can’t only have come from journalists writing pieces like this.
Moreover, McDormand’s speech is likely to be remembered as the highlight of the whole evening. She began by saying she was “hyperventilating,” but added that if she fell down, “pick me up because I have things to say.”
And say them she did – asking every woman in the audience who had been nominated to stand up.
What was very clever was that she left it ambiguous as to what point she was making. While obviously it celebrated the achievements of those who stood, many were captured on camera looking around at the empty air around them when, if society in general were reflected, a larger proportion of the room should have been on its feet.
Kimmel ultimately wrapped up by suggesting McDormand should win an Emmy for her moment – and it wouldn’t be a bad call.
Though it had been touted beforehand that #MeToo would have its own section and that Kimmel would not directly reference it, nevertheless some pointed references to it still crept through.
Not all of them worked, though.
There was subdued laughter when Dame Helen Mirren remarked that an “older man and a younger woman” was an unusual coupling in Hollywood, while presenting the best actor nominees.
But when introducing best director, Emma Stone spoke about “the four men and Greta Gerwig” who were nominated.
Doing so, pointed to the gender imbalance, but many watching felt it also discredited the achievements of Guillermo del Toro and Jordan Peele as people of colour.
There were not that many sobs on the Oscar stage this year, but a great many would have been shed on the sofas of a bleary-eyed British public as best actor Gary Oldman thanked Winston Churchill and then his mum – “99-years-young next year.”
“Thank you for your love and support. Put the kettle on. I’m bringing Oscar home,” he added.
Staying in the UK, many noted that Icarus – a film about doping in cycling – won best documentary within two hours of a report being published by the DCMS into drug use in British cycling.
That DCMS report concluded that “drugs were being used by Team Sky, within World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need.”
The film’s directors declared: “We hope Icarus is a wake-up call, yes about Russia but more than that about the importance of telling the truth”.
Icarus’ win prompted probably the best off-the-cuff line from Kimmel of the evening: “Well, at least we know Putin didn’t rig this election.”
Best pub quiz answer
Who is the only person to win MVP in basketball’s NBA and an Oscar?
It’s not Michael Jordan for his turn in Space Jam, or (sadly) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for his role as the co-pilot in Airplane (robbed by Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People, Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t even nominated. Outrageous).
No, it’s Kobe Bryant, one half of the team that made the best animated short, Dear Basketball.
And, unlike the one about Al Gore – who didn’t actually win the Oscar himself, this bit of trivia is true.
As an aside, a special mention to the person who remotely operates the mic stand, which glided perfectly up the extra two feet to meet Bryant’s lips as he took over.
Speaking of trivia, a fact many have picked up on is that four of the last five best director winners have been Mexican – Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (twice) and now Guillermo del Toro for The Shape Of Water.
The Shape Of Water – a film about “the year men screwed up so badly, women started dating fish,” as Kimmel put it – is also by some measures the first science fiction film ever to win best film, something sure to be remembered in the same way that The Silence Of The Lambs was the first horror to take that prize.
Not only that, but Coco’s Remember Me – which won best song – was probably the best of the night’s musical performances, all of which were fantastically staged and, as opposed to when they’re often rather dull, real stand-out moments of the show.
The glittering, multi-coloured skulls of the backdrop will live long in the memory. Aptly.
Here’s an incentive to keep those notoriously long Oscar speeches trim – shortest speech won a jet ski worth $17,999, demonstrated by Helen Mirren (who was not included).
“Why waste precious time thanking your mum, when you could take her for the ride of her life?”, Kimmel asked.
It looked like Best Supporting Actress Alison Janney would take it when she arrived at the podium and said, “I did it all myself” – getting the biggest laugh of the night – but then blew it by actually thanking a load of people after all.
So going home on the water tonight – and modelling a lifejacket at the end – was costume designer Mark Bridges.
Incidentally, you’ll notice we haven’t mentioned the bit when Kimmel, Gal Gadot, Emily Blunt, Armie Hammer, Mark Hamill and others went over the road to patronise an audience to death with hot dog guns.
That’s because it was rubbish.