The 7th Art: The Oscars – The Highs, The Lows, and The Oh-No’s

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Written by Farida Gamal and Aya I. Shaaban

The 89th Academy Awards was like a rollercoaster, with all its humourous, disappointing, touching, and even awkward moments. This year it wasn’t a regular awards night, it was more of a film; a film that honours all the great people who portray different aspects we acknowledge on a daily basis. People with different characters we bump into; and finally, those who enlighten our minds with lessons which help us during our times of confusion. So what happened on that fascinating film night?

Not All Heroes Wear Capes…

Left to right: Hidden Figures stars, Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and inspiration, Katherine Johnson, seated, in blue.

…some arrive at the oscars wearing a cute blue dress. Taraji P. Henson starred as Katherine Johnson, ‘the girl who loves to count’, in Hidden Figures. Johnson, who was a physicist at NASA and calculated trajectories, was described as practically a ‘computer’; furthermore, she launched the return paths in flights, like the first manned flight and the first flight to the moon – all under the segregation policy. This wonderful lady was presented on stage by Henson as, “a true NASA and American hero.” Johnson received a breathtaking moment of a standing ovation; she simply responded with, “Thank you”.

An inspiration like Johnson at the Oscars is a true indication that hard work pays off, you love what you do so you do it best; thus, inspiring others to do the same who else inspire others – and that’s the true cycle of life. If you want to be a ‘computer’ doing impossibly crucial work, or put all your blood, sweat, and tears into making a two-hour film, you should know that it’s more than just that. It’s a lifestyle that inspires the world to be better; so, you must absolutely LOVE what you do.

“Too Young” is a Myth:

Auli’i Cravalho performing “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana (2016)

Auli’i Cravalho, the 16 year-old who voiced Moana, sang “How Far I’ll Go” ( nominated for Best Song) so perfectly that even when she was accidentally hit by a flag-twirler she STILL killed it; not missing a single note. Let’s just be honest, probably all of us wanted to be like Cravalho when we were her age; so successful, flawless, and true stars.

The “Best Picture Incident”:

La La Land producer, Marc Platt

If you hadn’t watched the Oscars live that night and woke up to a bunch of memes and jokes about something that had to do with the two Best Picture nominees, Moonlight and La La Land. If you’re too lazy to look it up, this is your effortless chance: Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (the iconic Bonnie and Clyde duo) accidentally named La La Land the Best Picture winner; but, during a speech from co-producer Marc Platt, a disruption started which had producers Jordan Horowitz and Fred Berger exchange nonplussed looks.

Berger reluctantly goes for a speech anyways closing it with, “We lost, by the way.”

La La Land producer, Jordan Horowitz

So Horowitz took over announcing Moonlight as the winner and stated that he’ll be delighted to hand them the award. Well that’s the Steve Harvey mistake all over again, isn’t it?

Did Someone Say a ‘No-Show’…?

Best Foreign Film Iranian Director, Asghar Farhadi

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category for The Salesman; but, Farhadi boycotted the ceremony in protest of Donald Trump’s travel ban which included Iran. Instead, Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian woman to go to space, went on his behalf.

She read his acceptance speech which stated: “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear.” It’s a shame for an amazing director like Farhadi to miss a moment like this, but he understandably had his reasons.

The Year of Record-Breaking:

Undoubtedly, there were some records broken during this year’s Oscars.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Viola Davis, holding her Oscar statuette

The outstanding Viola Davis – a true role model who breaks her back mastering every one of her roles, adding warmth to the character, and giving equal importance to every angle of the character through proficient portrayal – is now the first black actress to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony for acting. I mean, anyone should’ve seen that genius coming! She won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Fences.      

Best Director, Damien Chazelle, holding his Oscar statuette

If we talk about talent, the youngest Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle (only 32 years old) despite his age, has managed to direct one of the most successful and enchanting films in history. Since he’s still young, we’ll constantly be blessed with his works of art; La La Land won’t be his last.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Mahershala Ali, holding his Oscar statuette

Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar for his role in Moonlight; not only as Muslims, but as human beings recently feeling marginalized from the world, we are proud. 

O.J.: Made in America is the longest film to win Best Documentary Feature, with its duration of 7 hours and 47 minutes spanning over five parts. It should be a good one, but for viewing online, at home, with a lot of popcorn and beverages, and with several breaks in between.

Top – left to right: Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali. Bottom – left to right: Octavia Spencer, Dev Patel and Ruth Negga.

This year has the most Oscar nominations for actors of colour (nominated in every acting category), to avoid last year’s #OscarsSoWhite. However, the creator of #OscarsSoWhite herself disagrees and does not consider the big wins by actors and actresses of color due to the movement. We still think it is a great honor and a milestone achieved.

Political Drama:

As spectacular as it was, this year’s ceremony did not fail to avoid controversy. Many Trump supporters called for boycotting the Oscars; alternatively, Kimmel tweeted from within the ceremony asking Trump if he was up. Many of the acceptance speeches spread messages about overcoming the hateful atmosphere tensing the nation and standing together to embrace diversity, such as Farhadi’s speech quoted above.

An Undeserved Award?

Another win which displeased many people was Casey Affleck’s for Best Actor; Affleck, who is Ben’s younger brother, is considered a rising star. However, a few years ago allegations surfaced about him sexually assaulting his female coworkers on the set of his film I’m Still Here. Though there were lawsuits against him, Affleck settled the cases out of court.

Last year’s Oscar winner, Brie Larson, announced his win and presented him with the award; however, as an advocate against women’s abuse, Larson refused to applaud Affleck as he stood with the award in hand. Many Twitter users were outraged at his win, believing that sexual predators ought not to be rewarded.
However, others argue that he was rewarded for his outstanding performance as an actor and not his conduct as a human being.

And the Oscar for ‘Best Host’ Goes to…

It’s safe to say that Jimmy Kimmel rocked yesterday as a host, even at handling crises like the “Best Picture Incident”. Adding sincere creativity and sarcasm altogether, we couldn’t have asked for a better performance from Kimmel; for example, adorably holding up 8 year-old Sunny Pawar, star of the blockbuster Lion, in a manner resembling that in The Lion King’s iconic scene with Rafiki holding up Simba. Also, surprising a bunch of unaware tourists on a bus who thought they were going to explore an exhibit of Oscar dresses only to find themselves at the actual Oscars! One member who stole the show was a man who the Internet dubbed as ‘Gary from Chicago’; he’s already a sensation and a meme.

We hope 2017 will be a rich, positive and inspiring cinematic year as 2016 was and that upcoming Oscars will also be as exciting, hilarious, but with less goofs and incidents.

Let’s Discuss!

What do you think? Is Jimmy Kimmel your favorite Oscars’ host? If not, then who was? Do you think the ‘Best Picture Incident’ was handled well, or was it catastrophic? Does Affleck deserve the Oscar? Let us know in the comments.

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