Academy Awards 2017

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The 89th Academy Awards show opened with a rousing entrance from Justin Timberlake, walking through the aisles, dancing and singing “Can’t Stop This Feeling.”

By the time Jimmy Kimmel showed up on the black-and-gold stage as host, he had got a captive audience, on their feet and having a good time, in which he humorously took credit for.  Despite hosting the Oscars for the first time, Kimmel looked like he was right at home, as if the comedian was there for his late night show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Diving right into politics, Kimmel commented that the Oscars would be watched by 225 countries who hate us.  He pointed out that we could almost guarantee we would see some of the speeches from tonight appear on the 5 a.m. tweets by President Trump.  He also asked if there was anyone in the room working for CNN, L.A. Times, New York Times or any publication ending with the word ‘Times’ (such as Medieval Times) to leave the building, as we would not tolerate “fake news.”

Kimmel went on to invite Meryl Streep, whose political-laden speech at the recent Golden Globe Awards was both praised and lambasted by different parties, to stand up and for everyone to give her an “undeserved applause.”  Mimicking Trump, he called her “overrated.”  He even went further by taunting Trump with a tweet, #Merylsayhi.

Referring to last year’s controversies #OscarSoWhite, Kimmel noted that things had changed this year.  “Black people saved NASA, white people saved jazz” (in reference to “Hidden Figures” and “La La Land”).  On a serious note, it was great to see Katherine Johnson (age 98), one of the pioneers from the NASA Space Program in 1960s brought onto the stage on a wheelchair as the guest of honor.  Her historic accomplishments can be seen in “Hidden Figures,” one of the best films of the year.

With Kimmel as host, the sarcastic jab about long-time frenemy Matt Damon was to be expected and quite funny.  Among the jabs, he remarked that Damon, who was typically selfish, did an unselfish thing with “Manchester by the Sea.”  He remained as producer and let the brother of his childhood friend, Casey Affleck, did the acting.

The first award of the night, Best Supporting Actor, went to Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”).  “Moonlight” also scored Best Original Screenplay.  Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress (“Fences.”).  Davis gave a tearful speech and a nod to the profession as one that celebrates what it means to have a life.  Casey Affleck’s heartbreaking performance in “Manchester by the Sea” earned him BestActor award.  Emma Stone, who tapped and twirled through “La La Land” and was fittingly dressed in gold here, brought home the gold statue as Best Actress.

The Academy spread the love across the board, awarding awards in various categories to multiple films; Best Original Screenplay to “Manchester by the Sea,” Best Makeup and Hairstyling to “Suicide Squad,” Best Costume Design to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Best Sound Editing to “Arrival,” and Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing to “Hackshaw Ridge.”  The winners looked incredibly surprised, as most expected Hollywood favorite “La La Land” to sweep the awards.  Best Visual Effects was given to “The Jungle Book,” besting sci-fi and superhero movies vying for the award.

“La La Land” did win a number of awards; Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Original Song, including the prestigious Best Directing award for its director, Damien Chazelle.  Chazelle, at age 32, became the youngest director winning the award in Oscars history.

The brilliant “Zootopia” deservingly won Best Animated Feature.  The acceptance speech mentioned it being a story of tolerance, which is more powerful than fear of the other.  The other animation, “Moana,” had its song, “How Far I’ll Go,” beautifully sung by Auli’I Cravlho, the voice behind the brave teenage girl in the movie.

Stunts on the show involved candies, cookies and donuts, as well as tourists.  Candies, cookies and donuts wrapped inside tiny parachute packages were dropped gently from the ceilings.  Lucky, thrilled tourists from a tour bus, thinking they were walking into an exhibit, were ushered into the front of the room, coming face to face with the stars. The show also had a bunch of stars hilariously read a series of “mean tweets” sent to them.

A dreamlike segment on the show was performed by John Legend, playing the piano and singing, “City of Stars,” against the backdrop of starry skies and surrounded by graceful dancers.

The show ended with a shocker, never-before-happened in the history of the Oscars. “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as winner of Best Picture, by presenters Warren Betty and Faye Dunaway. The whole cast of the romantic musical already gathered onstage when the error had to be corrected. Not fake news or alternative fact, folks, “Moonlight” was the real winner.

Kimmel lightheartedly concluded the show by blurting out that he knew he would screw up the show and that he promised never to come back. What a night!

For a full list of the winners, check out the Academy Awards website here.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Film – Moonlight

Best Animated Film – Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer (Zootopia)

Best Director – Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Actor – Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Best Actress – Emma Stone (La La Land)

Best Supporting Actress – Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Original Screenplay – Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Adapted Screenplay – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight)

Best Original Score – Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)

Best Original Song – Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land)

Best Sound Editing – Sylvain Bellemare (Arrival)

Best Sound Mixing – Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Cinematography – Linus Sandgren (La La Land)

Best Film Editing – John Gilbert (Hacksaw Ridge)

Best Production Design – David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds Wasco (La La Land)

Best Visual Effects – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon (The Jungle Book)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson (Suicide Squad)

Best Costume Design – Colleen Atwood (Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them)


Copyright (c) 2017.  Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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