What was great about Sunday night’s Academy Awards? Everything but the awards.
Surprise was unfortunately in short supply for the 90th crop of Oscar winners. Gary Oldman won for playing Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, despite a performance that functions mostly as a dad whistle. (And despite fresh animosity toward Oldman’s past as an alleged domestic abuser in light of the #MeToo movement.) The Shape of Water won for Best Picture, which was the safest way to avoid the Three Billboards backlash while once again rewarding movies that are (at least in part) about the magic of movies. However, even though Lady Bird flew away unacknowledged and the prophesied Get Out upset was not to be, it still ended up handily being the best Oscars in years.
Jimmy Kimmel did a superb job hosting during a really weird time for Hollywood. From the monologue on, he struck a fine balance between recognizing #MeToo, Time’s Up, and other movements, and shepherding along actually funny bits, like a conversation with his nine-year-old self, whom he got to introduce to the cast of Star Wars. Before the show even began, though, Taraji P. Henson shaded the hell out of Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet, quietly setting the stage for a night with a lot of memorable moments for women. And this time, they even managed to give the correct Best Picture winner the award on the first try!
Have a look below for our favorite moments of the night.
Daniela Vega becomes first openly trans presenter in Oscar history
The star of newly minted Best Foreign Film, A Fantastic Woman, Daniela Vega, appeared on stage to introduce Sufjan Stevens’s performance of “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name. Although her presentation was decidedly new-agey (“Do you feel it?”), her being up there at all was an important milestone for LGBT representation.
- Lakeith Stanfield has a great way of ending long acceptance speeches Reprising a famous scene from Get Out, the Atlanta co-star offered to shout the title line at any award winner who thanked too many people.
- Allison Janney thanks her damn self
Although she ended up thanking more people, Janney’s cheeky opening line was a victory lap for a well-earned career peak. (Even if some of us were pulling for Laurie Metcalf.)
- All hail Rita Moreno and Eva Marie Saint
The most welcome return for a couple stars from yesteryear did not belong to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, but rather Eva Marie Saint and Rita Morena. The one-two punch of seeing these grand dames of cinema in all their glory again served as an inspiring counterpoint to the likes of Timothee Chamalet and Ansel Elgort, whose combined age could be a shoe size. Extra props to Rita Moreno for showing up in the same dress she wore to the Oscars in 1962.
- Hot dog cannons set a high watermark for WTF at the Oscars
In an inversion of last year’s busload of randos interrupting the ceremony, this time Jimmy Kimmel brought Gal Godot, Lupita Nyong’o, and a bunch of other stars over to a theater across the street to interrupt their viewing of A Wrinkle In Time. The bit was held aloft by its absurdity, which peaked either with the hot dog cannons or The Two Guillermos (del Toro and the one who is Jimmy Kimmel’s sidekick) carrying an enormous submarine sandwich.
- Common jams out . . . and calls out the NRA
Common and Andra Day didn’t just perform the song “Stand Up for Something,” which was nominated for an Oscar, they used the opportunity to (quite literally) spotlight a group of activists. The pair apparently personally contacted 10 activists, who represent groups like Equal Justice Initiative and Sandy Hook Promise. Most were relatively unknown, but the group included Janet Mock and chef José Andrés. Although bringing the activists onstage served as a symbolic gesture, Common had a gesture of his own, adding a line to his performance, “Tell the NRA they’re in God’s way.”
- Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, and Annabella Sciorra rebuke Harvey Weinstein
What this trio has in common is they have all publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Together, their speech marked the night’s most significant #MeToo moment, which they followed up by introducing a video highlighting New Voices.
- Kumail Nanjiani and Lupita Nyong’o shout out the Dreamers
One of the voices in the video that Judd, Hayek, and Sciorra introduced belongs to Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani, who may have got in the best line of the night: “Some of my favorite movies are movies by straight white dudes, about white straight dudes. Now, straight white dudes can watch movies starring me and relate to that. It’s not that hard! I’ve done it my whole life!” Sealing his full arrival in Hollywood’s new class, Nanjiani presented an award with Nyong’o, which they dedicated to the Dreamers.
- Jimmy Kimmel offers a water sports-related bribe
As mentioned above, Kimmel threatened to foist a screaming Lakeith Stanfield on any winners who outstayed their welcome onstage. Since you tend to catch more flies with honey than vinegar, though, he also instituted a bribe system: the shortest speech of the night would fetch someone a jet ski. (It ended up going to Phantom Thread costume designer Mark Bridges.)
- Jordan Peele reacts stunned to his historic win
Get Out may not have won Best Picture, as some of us wanted more than anything, but it did nab a trophy for Best Original Screenplay, making Jordan Peele the first African-American to win the honor. Peele’s flabbergasted reaction to the win shows that the honor is not lost on him–even though clearly his film also deserved to win Best Picture too.
- Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph pretty much steal the entire show
Between Haddish reviving the dress that she wore throughout the entire Girls Trip promotional cycle, and the pair complimenting each other on the assorted bodily fluids they’ve loosed upon movie audiences recently, this entire bit brought down the house. If there is not a Maya Rudolph/Tiffany Haddish buddy comedy in production by the end of the day, somebody should get fired.
- Frances McDormand stands up for women; women stand up, too
It was the moment that made the entire world Google “Inclusion rider.” Anyone paying even the slightest attention to this award season could have guessed that McDormand was going to win this award, and that she was going to give a hell of an interesting speech. She delivered on both counts, with some typically frank words about women in the industry, culminating in all the female nominees in all categories standing up. Now, let’s see if we can’t make the size of the group that was standing up a little more voluminous next year.
[Photo Illustration by Daisy Korpics; Reese Witherspoon: Flickr user Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV; Margot Robbie: Flickr user Eva Rinaldi; Viola Davis: Flickr user Gage Skidmore; Ashley Judd: Flickr user Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV; Zendaya: Flickr user Gage Skidmore; Meryl Streep: Flickr user Dick Thomas Johnson; Mary J. Blige: Emma McIntyre/Netflix; Gina Rodriguez: Flickr user Dominick D; Jennifer Lawrence: Flickr user Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV]