The Oscars were...pretty decent this year. That tepid endorsement truly encompasses the 90th Academy Awards--there were few (if any) glaring choices, no real surprises, no one gave away the wrong award, no one fell up a flight of stairs, Meryl didn't cold-cock Sandy Bullock. It wasn't that boring, it wasn't that exciting, I wasn't really mad at any of the winners--you know, it was aight.
However, the show also managed the unenviable task of striking a delicate balance between celebratory, self-conscious, and socially aware, addressing a number of the issues of the day--sexual harassment and misconduct, immigration, LGBTQ rights, racism, and just good old-fashioned equality. Because now, more than before, awards shows are nothing more than gilded political rallies. And the Oscars, being the big kahuna of trophy snatching, is the loudest voice in protest. That doesn't always make for great TV, but it does give all this beautiful, elaborate self-congratulation a sense of purpose.
That being said, it's still the Oscars and we can still queen out about it. Let's get into it:
Nikki Goddamn Kidman
Not even nominated, Kidman showed up like she already won all the awards in a gay-gasp inducing Armani Prive gown. It's the kind of gown that reminds actresses half your age that you still can and will snatch their edges.
Frances McDormand's acceptance speech
Everyone's favorite third grade art teacher had the most rousing (literally) speech of the night, calling on her fellow female nominees to stand and be seen. Btw, an inclusion rider is "the idea that A-list actors have the ability to stipulate in their contracts that diversity be reflected both onscreen and in 'below the line' positions, where women, people of color, and members of L.G.B.T. communities are traditionally underrepresented." That's basically the rich white lady version of "Stay Woke."
Noted EGOT'er Rita Moreno
(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP )
89-year-old Moreno, wearing the gown she won her Oscar in back in 1962 (NBD), took the stage and didn't find the need to give it back. Though she did gladly cede the spotlight to...
A Fantastic Woman's historic win
Chile's first Oscar win was also the first winner to feature a transgender storyline with an openly trans actor in the lead role.
Ivory, who at 89 became the oldest Oscar-winner ever, wore a shirt with the Call Me By Your Name star's face when he accepted the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Ivory had been nominated three times previously as Best Director for A Room with a View , Howard's End and The Remains of the Day--films he made with his late partner Ismail Merchant.
Coco won Best Animated Feature which gave us the chance to see bearded and betrothed bae screenwriter Adrian Molina thank his husband. Just my luck, the good Oscar-winners are always taken.
Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph inspire buddy comedy wet dreams
Serial scene-stealers Haddish and Rudolph are the comedic duo we want and deserve. As Tiff told her future cinematic mother Meryl Streep, "Let's get this money, girl!"
"This Is Me?"
"This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman is a schmaltzy power ballad of the highest order and it got the big, splashy, over-the-top, belting in your face, "Let's all join in the chorus" kind of performance it warranted. But perhaps the best part was nominee, performer, and Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige not realizing, and still doubting, that performance was a standing ovation cue.
Diversity has been such a massive talking point in Hollywood that eventually it starts to feel hollow. But if the Oscars showed anything, it was the quality achievable when everyone can have a seat at the table. While the show may have been a piping hot plate of "why not?" the films it was celebrating were some of the best the industry has put forth in a long time. And Jordan Peele exemplfied that when he became the first black screenwriter to win Best Original Screenplay for Get Out.