Grounding Glamour in Reality: The 2017 Oscars

I’d like to thank the Academy for one hell of a night…

Once again, the 89th Academy Awards graced us commoners with a glamorous, star-studded Sunday night. Maybe it’s just me, but this year’s show felt a lot like a TV episode, jam-packed with humorous social and political commentary, remarkable theatrical performances, major plot twists, a plethora of meme-worthy moments and overall, great entertainment. 

I’ll be honest, I’m not a film geek. I’ll just let this embarrassingly accurate graphic below do the talking:

Despite my lack of knowledge of all things glitz and glam, I must applaud the show’s numerous shout-outs to the realities of life, whether they were intentional or not. If you’re a little confused because you had better things to do last Sunday evening, here is a quick break down some of the highlights of this year’s Oscars ceremony.

 

8:30 p.m. EST: I’m your host, Jimmy Kimmel!

Apart from the occasional YouTube snippet of his talk show, I haven’t really watched Jimmy Kimmel in action, but I thought he killed it as an Oscars host! The night kicked off to a great start thanks to his witty opening monologue that had me cracking up every five seconds (no exaggeration). 

Recently, almost every current event has become a platform for a political mention, and Kimmel didn’t hold back. Urging Americans everywhere to start being the change in the face of division, he positively brought attention to real life in a place that offers us an escape from reality. 

The task of hosting the Academy Awards is pretty much a ‘make-it or break-it’ situation. Throughout the show, he managed to do his role justice. Kudos, Jimmy.

9-ish p.m. EST: Two words. Viola Davis.

An entirely separate article could be dedicated to the living legend that is Viola Davis. She’s absolutely phenomenal. Not only did she make history as the first African-American actor to have won an Emmy, a Tony and an Oscar, she proved exactly why she’s such an inspiration to so many. I’m a hardcore How to Get Away with Murder fan, so I’m probably biased in saying this, but her acceptance speech for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress was by far one of the best, most memorable moments of the night. 

Davis paid tribute to all the forgotten stories of ordinary people who never saw their dreams come true like she did, while praising her profession as “being the only one that celebrates what it means to live a life.” She basically let us know that our stories and experiences are valued and important to her as an artist. Thanks a million, Viola. 

Of course, our host captured everyone’s thoughts exactly when he said, “Viola Davis just got nominated for an Emmy for that speech.” Retweet, Jimmy. 

Sometime around 10:30 p.m. EST: Not so pleasant surprises…

There were times when the Oscars failed to hit all the right notes. After all, it’s not the Grammy’s…(okay, not one of my finest jokes, but I promise I have a better sense of humor). 

Anyway, some genius apparently thought it would be a great idea to “surprise” a bunch of tourists by letting them walk into the awards show. I'm admittedly 100% jealous of every single one of those tourists. Nevertheless, the whole stunt ended up being kinda cringe-worthy and awkward. In a nutshell, Denzel Washington “married” a couple, Jennifer Aniston gifted the bride with her sunglasses, and this rad guy named Gary, like any normal person, snapped a dozen pictures of and with Hollywood A-Listers. It was weird. 

‘Way past bedtime if you needed to be up early like me’ EST: DISASTER.

Finally, in a moment heavily reminiscent of the 2015 Miss Universe mix-up, the award for Best Picture was mistakenly announced as the musical La La Land instead of the drama Moonlight. It was after midnight, and amidst brushing my teeth and prepping for bed, it took me a couple of seconds to really grasp the colossal confusion that had just plagued the Oscars stage on live television. 

As it turns out, the presenters of the final award had been given the wrong envelope; the cue card had the name of the Best Actress, Emma Stone (from La La Land) on it. By the time the error was corrected, half the La La Land cast had already given their acceptance speeches for an Oscar that they hadn’t really won. It was quite a mess. 

The media is probably going to pull apart this incident for way longer than necessary. I for one, am surely in no place to make claims and jump to conclusions, but if there’s one thing we should take away from this unfortunate blunder, it’s that PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES. Now there’s something you don’t hear everyday!

At the end of it all, I think by stepping outside its boundaries of simply acknowledging the best and brightest in the film industry, the Oscars did something that 2017 really needed. In some way or another, it made everyone watching at home feel included. As an international student, this was my first time watching the show, and embracing American culture through the art of film in this way was a truly interesting experience to say the least.