Oscars 2018: From Gary Oldman's win to Frances McDormand's big onstage moment — a look at this year's Awards

Anupam Kant Verma

Mar,05 2018 15:40:07 IST

Trust the Oscars to stick to routine.

Even as the biggest night in show business celebrated diversity and inclusion with elan, sticking it to the current President with metaphors and asides left, right and center; the actual business of handing out awards remained humdrum and predictable as ever. The Shape of Water won the Best Picture and Director trophies, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took home the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor awards. If you’ve been remotely interested in the ceremony in the days leading up to it, you can reel off the rest of the list of winners without consulting a news publication.

Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney and Gary Oldman at the 2018 Academy Awards. File image.

Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney and Gary Oldman at the 2018 Academy Awards. File image.

Befittingly though, the night belonged to more pressing issues and concerns raised unequivocally by one and all. Right from Frances McDormand exhorting all the women in the house to stand up from their seats to Kumail Nanjiani quietly— with his light comic touch — batting for the universality of storytelling. Guillermo del Toro put it most simply when he proudly said he is an immigrant. Not one to be left behind, the host, Jimmy Kimmel, casually declared Oscar the best man in Hollywood, for he doesn’t have a penis. The editors behind the splendid montages that preceded some of the award presentations also got in on the act, cleverly employing dialogue and images from iconic films to deliver messages that formed the core of the Oscar experience this time round.

Amidst the colour and razzmatazz of the red carpet and the sloganeering and championing of these issues, the awards plodded on sans any surprises at all. One outstanding thing was the gargantuan talent and competition on display in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. The results vindicated the bookies' favourites, but it was exhilarating to hear Lesley Manville, Laurie Metcalf, Octavia Spencer, Sally Hawkins, Saoirse Ronan, Frances McDormand, Meryl Streep and Allison Janney’s names called out in succession. Not to forget the Oldmans, Rockwells and the Day-Lewises who filled the actors’ roster. Perhaps it is now time for gender barriers to be brought down in the acting categories. Women and men compete together in all the other award categories. If we are truly willing to recognize achievement inclusively, this must be the next natural step.

Stills from Dunkirk and The Shape of Water.

Stills from Dunkirk and The Shape of Water.

Christopher Nolan’s record of mounting films that shine in the technical awards category continued with Dunkirk bagging multiple statuettes for its meticulously arranged sound. Like Paul Thomas Anderson, the Academy’s love for The Shape of Water ensured Nolan remained without a Best Director award, as del Toro walked up to receive the statuette. The Shape of Water is a beautiful film but it is also del Toro’s safest, easily trumped by the sheer ambition of Nolan’s new film and Anderson’s complex, richly crafted drama. The Academy thought otherwise, and in an year where films boldly stuck it to the man and chewed away at the rules, it awarded Best Picture to one of the few del Toro films that perhaps won’t stand the test of time. Phantom Thread had to satisfy itself with a win in Costume Design while Get Out, a timely film about the horror of racial inequity, took home the Original Screenplay trophy.

Gary Oldman accepting his Oscar for Best Actor. Image from Twitter/@AlArabiya_Eng

Gary Oldman accepting his Oscar for Best Actor. Image from Twitter/@AlArabiya_Eng

And now — Gary Oldman. The great Gary Oldman. Criminally underrepresented at the big awards throughout his staggering career, a turn as Winston Churchill ensured that he finally received the Oscar he should have won ages ago. Oldman signed off his speech thanking his mother while saying, “Put the kettle on. I’m bringing home an Oscar.” In a ceremony underscored by droll predictability, his equally predictable win felt cathartic and truly moving. So did McDormand’s.

Frances McDormand during her acceptance speech for Best Actress. Image from Twitter/@THR

Frances McDormand during her acceptance speech for Best Actress. Image from Twitter/@THR

An actress of titanic talent, she pulled herself out of the obscurity she seemed to have chosen for herself, delivered a muscular, emphatic performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and walked away with the Best Actress prize at all the award functions of the season. Sally Hawkins probably had the more difficult of the two characters to portray this year. Maybe somewhere deep down her performance felt more beautifully crafted as well. But McDormand simply exploded onto the screen with a rage that appeared to have been nurtured and delineated with a workmanlike precision. A sight to behold, much like her speech on stage which will certainly be lighting up screens worldwide for days to come.

Guillermo del Toro after his Oscar win for Best Director. Image from Twitter/@CNN

Guillermo del Toro after his Oscar win for Best Director. Image from Twitter/@CNN

When Warren Beatty announced the name of the final winner — correctly, to the relief of most onlookers, none more so than del Toro and The Shape of Water’s producers, scarred by last year’s embarrassing gaffe — the Academy proved its potential to direct a joke or two towards itself. With more and more stories coming from places and voices that have been marginalized for years, let's hope that the Academy chooses to reflect bold inclusiveness in its choice of winners and nominees in the coming  years.

The 90th Academy Awards sent out a message to the world. Surely those closest to home must have heard it loud and clear.

Updated Date: Mar 05, 2018 15:40 PM