The Best of 2017 Vie for the Gold at the Very Diverse 90th Academy Awards Telecast Sunday on ABC
By: Ellis Nassour
The 90th Academy Awards will telecast live by ABC from L.A.’s Dolby Theatre Sunday, again hosted by late night’s Jimmy Kimmel and presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at 6:30 P.M. (Eastern) [Red Carpet] with a gala start at 8 P.M. The Awards will be seen or streamed live or via tape delay in more than 225 countries. This being the 90th annual awards, there’ll surely be a lot of movie history. Undoubtedly, filled as ever with glitz and bejeweled and high coutured glamour, it will run until close to midnight.
The long-absent diversity began to spike last year. This year it exploded. It’s a big year for indies – building upon last year’s winner Moonlight, the first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBT-themed film to win [after the sloppy accounting firm’s reps located the correct envelope – and such astute stars as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway somehow failed to read what was printed on it].
Be warned, says Jimmy Kimmel, “If you think we screwed up the ending this year, wait until you see what we have planned for this year.” He shares that he’s labored long and hard on the comic elements, “writing thousands of jokes and choosing 30 for the big night.” Kimmel added that he believes “it’s almost necessary to address the current state of politics,” as the late show hosts have been doing for well over a year now, “and other serious matters.”
Still, with the Golden Globes presented only a week into the new year, followed by the SAG Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, New York Film [and every major city’s] Critics Awards, and the You-Name-It-Movie Awards, the Oscars are anti-climatic. The Globes productions, even without huge production numbers, get better with each airing.
Last year with the blistering speech by [then] 30-time nominee/eight wins “mediocre” Meryl Streep on accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award [little known today is that in addition to his racy spectacles, the director was an ultra-conservative and rabid anti-Communist rebel rouser] and this year with Oprah’s “pre-presidential run” acceptance speech on receiving the same honor, there are more WOW! moments. Granted the Globes is a far smaller organization compared with the Academy’s various guilds pushing nominations, but for the Oscars to remain relevant they should not only air earlier in the year but also, in spite of union pressures not to, move many of the creative awards to a pre-show segment as the Tony Awards do. There would also be time for more and longer clips.
2017 was a banner year for indies – several of which are among the top contenders in the Top Nine. Over 341 films were eligible for nomination honors; 70 eligible original songs [with audiences rushing to exit as the end credits endlessly crawl, most probably never heard even last year’s five nominees. There are 24 categories, and prior-t0-telecast technical and honorary awards – some 200 nominees in all.
With ever-rising ticket prices and entertainment-hungry huddled masses, not being able to get enough programming at home, arriving to be infused with “buttered” popcorn, salsa and chips, Milk Duds, Sno-caps, and iced-cold Coke, box office records were broken nearly every summer and holiday weekend.
Presenters will include past Oscar winners and nominees Mahershala Ali (Supporting Actor, Moonlight), Emily Blunt, Sandra Bullock, Dave Chappelle, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Ashley Judd, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Lupita Nyong’o, Eva Marie Saint, Emma Stone and Christopher Walken.
Also on hand will be: Chadwick Boseman, Gal Gadot, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig, Tiffany Haddish, Mark Hamill, Armie Hammer, Tom Holland, Oscar Isaac, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kumail Nanjiani, Margot Robbie, Gina Rodriguez, Wes Studi, Daniela Vega, and Zendaya.
There are five planned production numbers. The original singers of the year’s five Oscar-nominated songs will reprise their performances, with Oscar-nominated tunes performed by Mary J. Blige (Mudbound): Gael García Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia Lafourcade (Coco); rapper Common and powerhouse belter Andra Day (Marshall); Keala Settle (from The Greatest Showman); and Sufjan Stevens (Call Me by Your Name).