By Kam Williams
“The Shape of Water” was the big winner at the 90th Annual Academy Awards, netting four Oscars, including Best Picture. Mexican directors have now won four of the past five years, with Guillermo del Toro joining his compadres Alejandro Inarritu (“Birdman” and “The Revenant”) and Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) in the elite fraternity.
“I am an immigrant,” del Toro began his emotional acceptance speech, suggesting that we should be “erasing the lines in the sand” instead of building walls, a thinly-veiled criticism of President Donald Trump. He was not the only person to weigh-in on the issue. Earlier in the evening, co-presenters Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o and Pakistani Kumail Nanjiani defiantly declared themselves “Dreamers” before assuring DACA participants with “We stand with you.”
Others also turned the podium into a soapbox for a political platform For instance, moments before handing Guillermo his statue, Emma Stone bemoaned the fact that the nominees in the directing category were “four men and Greta Gerwig,” implying that females had been slighted. But that jab ignored the fact that a Latino and an African-American, Jordan Peele, were among the contenders.
It was almost as if last year’s cause celebre, #OscarsSoWhite, had been supplanted by #MeToo and #TimesUp, hashtag movements supporting victims of sexual harassment. Peele did walk away with an Oscar for “Get Out”’s screenplay — the first African-American to receive this milestone — but he and Kobe Bryant (Best Animated Short Film, “Dear Basketball”) were the only African-American winners from among the dozen nominated.
Did anybody else notice that there were fewer White men among the presenters? Yes, they still dominated the ranks of the Academy Award winners, but that didn’t discourage others in attendance from taking potshots at them.
At times, it felt like a celebration of cultural diversity, with the immigrant, feminist, Black and LGBTQ communities sharing the limelight, everyone except White males. Kumali Nanjiani — the star of “The Big Sick” –took delight in chastising them. ‘Now, straight White dudes can watch movies starring me and relate to that,” he said.
As usual, the “In Memoriam” montage failed to pay tribute to a number of Hollywood icons. Among the dearly departed omitted were Adam West, Rose Marie, Della Reese, director Tobe Hooper, Robert Guillaume, David Cassidy, Glen Campbell, Miguel Ferrer, Oscar-winner Dorothy Malone, Nanette Fabray, Dina Merrill and Jim Nabors. Gone, but not forgotten — may they rest in peace.
Complete List of Oscar Winners
Best Picture: “The Shape of Water”
Best Actress: Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Best Actor: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water.”
Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri”
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Adapted Screenplay: James Ivory, “Call Me By Your Name”
Cinematography: Roger A. Deakins, “Blade Runner: 2049”
Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”
Original Song: “Remember Me,” “Coco”
Makeup and Hairstyling: “Darkest Hour”
Costume Design: “Phantom Thread”
Best Documentary Feature: “Icarus”
Sound Editing: “Dunkirk”
Sound Mixing: “Dunkirk”
Production Design: “The Shape of Water”
Best Foreign Language Film: “A Fantastic Woman”
Best Animated Short Film: “Dear Basketball”
Best Animated Feature Film: “Coco”
Visual Effects: “Blade Runner: 2049”
Film Editing: “Dunkirk”
Documentary Short Feature: “Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405”
Live Action Short Film: “The Silent Child”