Oscars Recap with Revo

I was nervous about not having much to talk about regarding the Oscars. Thank you, Warren Beatty. The 89th Annual Academy Awards were held Sunday night and hosted by the incomparable Jimmy Kimmel. It was a wonderful ceremony with lighthearted jokes, political sentiment, and, most importantly, a collective love and appreciate for cinema. I watched the entire event, and I wanted to give my thoughts on the winners of each category. And yes… I will be talking about the ending.

Best Costume Design | Colleen Atwood for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
They ought to give an Oscar to the newest edition to the Harry Potter universe for the longest name in cinema. Colleen Atwood was quite flustered that she won over favorites such as La La Land and Jackie. The Oscar was well-deserved––Colin Farrell’s coat sleeves were always on point. Furthermore, I felt completely immersed in the wizarding world set in the Roaring 20s largely because of the costume design. The flapper girls… The vests and coats… They were all critical to the suspension of disbelief. Especially when Eddie Redmayne is performing a mating ritual with a giant, glowing Erumpent.

Best Visual Effects | Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon for The Jungle Book
I sat in the theater and was pretty sure I was watching a little boy in a red diaper talk to a jaguar. I remember when Avatar was the most mind-bendingly visual feast that audiences have ever seen. However, I contest that The Jungle Book has even more astonishing visual effects. Sure, sure… I know that Avatar came out years ago and technologies advance. That being said, I think there’s a certain strategy that goes into composing a movie that is that visual effects heavy. The integration of the CGI animals was perfectly executed, and it is a great win for the team behind The Jungle Book. Now, let’s see what they can do with The Lion King.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling | Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Nelson for Suicide Squad

Well, Suicide Squad is an Oscar-winning movie. I didn’t particularly love the film, but I would be remiss if I didn’t laud the film for having incredible makeup. Killer Croc in the comics is very… crocodilian. I was curious how they were going to pull off his character, and they did a wonderful blend of reptilian and humanoid features to make him a believable character. Plus, if you can make pigtails feel fresh and relevant, you deserve the little gold man.

Best Production Design | David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco for La La Land
It was the first win for La La Land during the Oscars, and I agreed completely with their decision. One of the most striking facets of the contemporary musical was how beautiful they made Los Angeles look––no easy feat, indeed. I was jealous of Mia and Seb’s apartment. And they were struggling artists! That kind of pad definitely cost them an arm and a leg. Perhaps that’s not realistic, but it certainly made for a beautiful setting for an electrifying film. The bar scene where Mia sees Seb for the first time was exquisitely crafted even with those cheesy Christmas decorations.

Best Editing | John Gilbert for Hacksaw Ridge
More than likely, the winner of Best Editing also wins Best Picture. To my knowledge, that correlation is correct a little over 50% of the time. so, when Hacksaw Ridge pulled away with the win, I honestly got nervous for La La Land (who was definitely the favorite of the night). However, Hacksaw Ridge accomplished some of the most thrilling, heart-wrenching battle sequences that I’ve ever seen committed to film. The pacing of the film flowed so elegantly from the golden, quaint hometown beginning to the gruesome, blood-soaked ending. Every scene feels nuanced and precise.

Best Documentary – Short Subject | Orlando von Einsledel and Joanna Katasegara for The White Helmets
This award is usually when most families go eat their dinner. I mean, it’s a three and a half hour long broadcast––people get hungry. However, when I watched their acceptance speech, I couldn’t help but feel that this short documentary was crucial. Their hearts behind their words felt sincere, almost pleading. I watched their film the night after the Oscars, and it is an absolute must see. It’s a gut punch. The strife that these brave men face every day; the knowledge that they might find their best friend in the rubble of a collapsed building in Aleppo. It’s a stirring, sobering film that everyone must watch. It’s available on Netflix.

Best Documentary Feature | Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow for O.J: Made in America
Honestly, I was rooting for Ava DuVernay’s 13th. We can’t win them all, though. I caught an installment of the documentary (because it’s broken up into, like, eight parts) and it was a remarkable documentary. At some points, you think to yourself, “How did they even get that footage?” It’s incredibly crafted and it provides a fresh take on a subject that we’ve all been inundated with for twenty years. I look forward to watching the rest of the program.

Best Animated Feature | Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Clark Spencer for Zootopia
Yes! My second favorite animated movie of the year won! Their acceptance speech fit right into the message of the film: cities and communities thrive when there is not only tolerance, but celebration of diverse peoples (in this case, animals). Zootopia is a vibrant, electrifying, emotional journey that left me wanting more. I could easily watch an animated show with just Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde as buddy cops. It would be perfect. The movie has something to say, and it presents that positive message in a beautifully animated tale of triumph. Kubo and the Two Strings is still my favorite, though.

Best Foreign Film | Asghar Farhadi for The Salesman
I haven’t seen The Salesman. That being said, in light of the current political climate, I thought it was an incredibly moving, yet tense, moment at the Oscars. Interestingly, the person who accepted the award on Farhadi’s behalf was the first Muslim woman who went to space. She’s also an incredibly accomplished engineer. The speech written by Farhadi was moving, touching, and represented exactly what I love about film. Roger Ebert famously claimed that movies are empathy machines––that thesis has been proven time and time again by the films that come from countries and perspectives outside of our own. Cinema is beautiful because it’s the art that most reflects the human condition, in my opinion. Films from differing cultures only add to the beauty. Let’s all try and catch The Salesman.

Best Cinematography | Linus Sandgren for La La Land
Besides the choreography, the cinematography is the most impressive facet of the film, easily. I could pluck any frame from the two hour runtime, stick it on my wall, and my friends would compliment me on my refined taste in art. I might have to because I’ve never gotten a compliment on my wall art. The jazz of the film was reflected in the vibrant aesthetic––all of those wonderful blues, pinks, greens, and yellows.

Best Sound Design | Sylvain Bellemare for Arrival
Thank goodness my favorite film of 2016 got an Oscar. Arrival should have won all of the awards it was nominated for, but that’s not how life works. For the confused, sound editing is the assemblage of the sound recordings in the final mixing of the film. For instance, these are for the sounds that are within the film. The creation of the alien sounds, for example. Or the sound the canary makes when it rattles the cage. The film makes the aliens sound ethereal, threatening, yet inviting all at the same time. Gosh… I love Arrival.

Best Sound Mixing | Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace for Hacksaw Ridge
Sound Mixing is the art of recording the sounds used in the film. For instance, they have to create the sound of a bullet ricocheting off a infantryman’s helmet. War films, when done right, are at the forefront of sound mixing awards, usually. The amount of artistry it takes to recreate a cacophony of battle sounds is astronomical. Hacksaw Ridge plunges you right into the Pacific Theater with the sounds. Close your eyes during the movie, and you’ll feel like you’re in the battle.

Best Original Song and Score | “City of Stars” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul from La La Land
I didn’t even think “City of Stars” was the best song in La La Land. “Audition” resonated with me so much more than the winning song. It is supremely catchy, though. When John Legend performed the song during the ceremony, I almost reconsidered my opinion. The song reminded me of “As Time Goes By,” the thematic song in Casablanca. Anyway, we all knew La La Land was going to win this award. The score was still incredibly electrifying, innovative, and fun. They did a great job of supplementing the star-crossed story with beautiful music accompaniment.

Best Original Screenplay | Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea
It’s not an easy feat to make me cry the ugliest tears in a public place, even if that place is a darkened movie theater. Manchester by the Sea is a superbly crafted slice of human drama. The characters feel like they exist in flesh and blood, and that can only come through the writing. It’s perhaps one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen, but still excellent in its story structure and character design. Apparently, Lonergan wrote this from some personal experience; it’s a phenomenal example of telling the stories that only you can tell. Go tell them.

Best Adapted Screenplay | Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for Moonlight based on In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue
My precious Arrival didn’t win this award, either. Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney wrote the best movie of 2016, and that is an incredible accomplishment for the writers. Not only that, but they told the story of a gay black boy growing up in the streets of Liberty City. That type of story usually doesn’t win these awards. The structure of the three stages of Chiron’s life is innovative, moving, and powerful. To be able to keep that structure feeling smooth, organic, and effective is complicated and requires mastery of the screenplay.

Best Supporting Actor | Mahershala Ali for Moonlight
My Oscar bracket started out great. I knew Mahershala would win for his performance as Juan in Moonlight. It’s not an incredibly in depth role in the film, screen-time-wise, but it is his best performance. And he’s had some incredible roles, too… He was able to be a tough drug dealer and a father figure to Chiron. That balance of hard and soft is an incredible feat, and I was overjoyed that Mahershala won. He also just had a daughter a few weeks ago, so he’s having a pretty good month.

Best Supporting Actress | Viola Davis for Fences
I’m really good at Oscar brackets. Once again, Viola Davis acted circles around everyone this year. Fences ought to be shown in every acting class around the world because it is a showcase in acting perfection. Every scene Viola was in, she chewed up my attention. She commanded the screen like a field general, and pulled every emotion out of her character. Her speech, even, was dynamite. Kimmel was right; just give her the Emmy for her acceptance speech.

Best Actor | Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea
Too bad, Matt Damon. You could have won an Oscar for the role that you gave to Casey Affleck. Anyway, I thought that Casey Affleck’s subdued, nuanced performance brought Manchester by the Sea to life. It’s a long movie full of sad people, but his acting kept drawing me into the film. Plus, I just love the Bostonian accent, and I was spoiled by the riches of “cahfee” and “pahk the cah.”

Best Actress | Emma Stone for La La Land
To no one’s surprise, Emma Stone got her Oscar for Best Actress. I thought it was a wonderful performance that conveyed naivety mixed with bitter hopelessness. Every time she went to a new audition, you could tell that Mia was yearning for the role, but resented that she had to endure bit roles and stereotypical fare. Her monologue about how she might not be one of those people who make it… that resonates with those of us who work in the arts. It’s a bit more dramatic for actors, but those fears echo among anyone who wants to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.

Best Director | Damien Chazelle for La La Land
Listen, I may not have loved La La Land, but there is no denying that it’s a masterfully directed film. The opening number alone proves that Chazelle operates on a genius level in filmmaking. To choreograph the dancing, the camera movements, and the tempo of the edit… that’s difficult stuff. Not to mention, he pulled out some of the best performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. They had tons of chemistry, and that’s largely part to his incredible direction. Don’t get me started about the last ten minutes of the film… Absolutely whimsical.

Best Picture | La La— Oh, Wait… Moonlight
Had to do it. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve found out that there was an incredible, jaw-dropping snafu during the Best Picture Award announcement. As it happened, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope for the presentation. So, when they saw “La La Land” on the card, they announced it.

It felt like the whole world warped into an alternate reality when Jimmy Kimmel and the producer of La La Land, Jordan Horowitz, came onto the stage to announce that Moonlight had actually won, I was floored.

Moonlight, in my opinion, was the best movie of last year. It had the most to say in the most beautifully cinematic presentation. The level of emotion and storytelling that were portrayed in the story is mind-bendingly phenomenal. Not a single facet of the movie is out of line; it is a near perfect film. I’m sad that Barry Jenkins and company didn’t get the proper spotlight that they deserve, but an Oscar is an Oscar.

Wow! This whole article kind of feels like the Oscars doesn’t it? Long and drawn out. I’d like to thank my Mom and my high school Calculus teacher who told me not to take the Advanced state test because he didn’t want me to ruin his record of high scores. Goodnight everyone!


– by Benton Olivares