9 take-aways from the quietly political 90th Academy Awards show
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The late Chicago film critic Roger Ebert's words about movies generating empathy and fostering understanding became part of an Oscar night montage celebrating the power of film to bring different people together, and Sunday's telecast did that quite well.
Here are nine take-aways from the 90th Academy Awards:
In an evening rife with dulling speeches sounding like orally transcribed movie credits, a hyperventilating McDormand supplied the show's most memorable moment by asking all female nominees to stand up. "If I fall over," she said, "pick me up because I've got some things to say!" Mostly two words: "inclusion rider."
2. Best presenter
The unpretentiously adorable comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish violated Hollywood's long-standing unwritten rule about not wearing the same outfit twice. She wore her $4,000 white Alexander McQueen dress on at least two earlier occasions. "This dress cost way more than my mortgage," she quipped. And she took the stage in slippers.
3. Those sets!
Six-time Oscars show designer Derek McLane turned the Dolby Theater stage into something that looked like a James Bond villain's headquarters hidden inside a giant, kaleidoscopic geode, an elaborate set constructed from 45 million crystals.
As show host Jimmy Kimmel led a group of celebrities into a nearby movie theater to thank its unsuspecting patrons for supporting the movies, he armed stars with 6-foot sub sandwiches, goodies and hot dog guns. "Don't shoot the hot dog guns at the vegetarians!" he cautioned.
5. The "Get Out" Best Original Screenplay win
"Get Out" ranks as my No. 1 movie of 2017, so it was justice for Jordan Peele's daring cinematic snapshot of racism in the 21st century (disguised as a darkly comic "meet the parents" horror tale) to win the statuette. Peele, the first African American to win in that category, admitted he'd stopped writing the screenplay at least 20 times, thinking it would never be produced.
6. Proof of tolerance and acceptance
Starting with the winners of the Best Animated Feature for "Coco," a woman thanked her wife, followed by a man thanking his husband, followed soon after by a transgender actress ("A Fantastic Woman" star Daniela Vega) introducing the Best Song nominee "Mystery of Love" from a gay coming-of-age drama, "Call Me by Your Name." Not long ago, these events would have raised eyebrows. Now, no big deal.
7. No hiccups or surprises
From a producer's point of view, this might be a good thing. But those hiccups and surprises make awards shows much more fun, even memorable. The 89th Oscars would never have received the attention or interest it did had Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty not announced the wrong Best Picture winner.
8. The great redemption
Bonnie and Clyde got the Best Picture winner right this time -- though Guillermo del Toro did check the card. And, yes, "The Shape of Water" won.
9. The Susan Lucci of cinematographers
Finally, after 14 Oscar nominations, cinematographer Roger Deakins won an Academy Award for his work on "Blade Runner 2049."