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The 90th Oscars ceremony was above-average

By Ruoshi Liu

Section: Arts

March 9, 2018

There is no doubt the Oscars are the most influential award show in the movie industry, probably even the whole entertainment industry. At the 90th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, there was no dark horse, like last year’s “Moonlight,” and there was, thankfully, no operational disaster like last year either. It was a satisfactory show, and as a movie fan, there are a few critical awards worth talking about.

The first award was the most predictable one—Best Actor in the Leading Role went to Gary Oldman, who gave a fantastic performance in “Darkest Hour.” Oldman’s portrayal of Winston Churchill was moving. He exquisitely portrayed Churchill’s combination of decisiveness and amiability. It is a Churchill with a sense of humor, a person who we can understand instead of a political figure who’s far away from us. As the strongest competitor for this award, I have to recognize Daniel Day-Lewis’s incredible performance in “Phantom Thread.” The only actor to win three Oscars for Best Actor, Day-Lewis has done a superb job in the last film of his career (he says).

Unlike Best Actor, the Best Actress category was extremely competitive because all five nominees did fantastic jobs. There is no doubt that Frances McDormand was terrific in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” A remarkable woman in real life, she portrays a charismatic and independent mother with an empathetic heart. Looking at another nominee this year, Sally Hawkins, without saying a word, managed to display the emotional struggle of a weak girl who falls in love with a humanoid amphibian. While Saoirse Ronan’s performance in “Brooklyn” is still fresh in my memory, in “Lady Bird,” she portrays a strong, rebellious girl struggling with a teenager’s typical confusions. “Lady Bird” reminded me of “Boyhood.” Moreover, I wouldn’t be sad for Meryl Streep because she has simply had enough with over 21 nominations!

Guillermo Del Toro is the fourth Mexican director to win the best director in the last six years. This award is granted to directors with the greatest creativity, personality and leadership. For Del Toro, a man famous for “Hellboy” and “Pacific Rim” and who directed the “Shape of Water” this year, the prize is well-deserved. The biggest competitor for the award of best directing, Christopher Nolan, definitely deserves an Oscar for the excellent movies he has directed. However, whether “Dunkirk” is the greatest movie he has directed remains arguable. Of course, we should also pay attention to Jordan Peele, a wonderful screenwriter, producer and director, who came up with the great idea of “Get Out,” as well as Greta Gerwig, the first female best director nominee in eight years who has done a great job in “Lady Bird.”

Regarding the best picture nominees, I have to say the “The Shape of Water,” although an enthralling movie in itself, was the last movie I would guess as the winner. I like the movie as a whole for its actors’ and actresses’ brilliant performances, utterly charming plot and delicate cinematography. However, in my understanding of the Oscars, the award of best pictures is granted to movies that delve deep into the nature of human beings and society. Although “The Shape of Water” tells a spectacular fairy-tale story, I should say it is the least “Oscar worthy” movie. However, of course, everybody has their own view of the Oscars. Congratulations to Del Toro and “The Shape of Water” for a fruitful year. I would also like to address two of my favorite movies for this year—“Call Me by Your Name” and “Phantom Thread.” The story of “Call Me by Your Name” is simply refreshingly beautiful and visually stunning; “Phantom Thread,” on the other hand, moved me with a tangled relationship between a famous couturier and a model. During the scene where Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps first met in a restaurant, Vicky Krieps kicks a pot on the floor and almost falls and all of a sudden her face flushes totally. This specific scene alone deserves an Oscar in my mind.

Generally speaking, this years’ Oscars had neither big surprises nor big accidents. Although I am not a big fan of Jimmy Kimmel, he did pretty well holding up the ceremony, except for the part he awkwardly interrupted a movie theatre full of people watching “A Wrinkle in Time.” It is a pretty straight and narrow conclusion for a fruitful year in the movie industry, a year we have waited quite a long time for.

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