The Golden Men

What are the Academy Awards? They are prestigious awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences given to films that achieve technical and artistic excellence. There are 24 categories for which a film can win an award, and films can be nominated in multiple categories. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929. Watched by millions across the globe, the Academy Awards celebrate the year’s best movies, both from Hollywood and around the world. The 89th Academy Awards -also called the Oscars- was held at the Dolby Theater on Feb. 26, 2017. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the ceremony had its fair share of excitement, surprise, and controversy.

Host Jimmy Kimmel cracked many light-hearted jokes during his opening monologue and throughout the show. Kimmel kept the star-filled theater thoroughly entertained, from continuing his comedic feud with actor Matt Damon to releasing an assortment of treats from the theater ceiling. At one point the show host ingeniously surprised an unsuspecting tour group by bringing them inside the Dolby Theater and introducing them to some of Hollywood’s finest.

Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali won Best Actor in a Supporting Role to kick off the ceremony. The next award was for Best Makeup and Hair Styling, which went to the DCEU’s Suicide Squad. Best Costume Design was won by Fantastic Beasts’ Colleen Atwood, and OJ: Made in America won Best Documentary Feature. Arrival’s Silvain Bellemare won Best Sound Editing, and Hacksaw Ridge received the Academy Award for Achievement in Sound Mixing. An emotional Viola Davis won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her moving performance in Fences. In her acceptance speech, Davis told how she found inspiration in the stories of the unknown and lost; stories of ordinary folks who tried and failed in life.

The Iranian film The Salesman won Best Foreign Language Film. Notably absent was the director Asghar Farhadi who boycotted the event after being temporarily affected by President Trump’s Immigration Ban. Pixar’s energetic Piper won for Best Animated Short Film, and Disney’s Zootopia won the Best Animated Feature Film category. Disney once again scored with The Jungle Book receiving the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. La La Land won its first Academy Award for its Production Design. The awards were received by the passionate David Wasco and his wife Sandy Reynolds-Wasco. Hacksaw Ridge won its second Academy Award, this time winning for Best Film Editing. The White Helmets received its Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. The documentary shines some light on the struggle in Syria through the perspective of volunteer and rescue workers. The Hungarian film Sing won Best Live Action Short Film category.

La La Land dominated the night with five more Academy Awards, including Achievement in Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song (City of Stars), Best Director (Damien Chazelle), and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone). Manchester by the Sea won both Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Casey Affleck). Moonlight won the Academy Award for both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. There was a serious mix-up, the biggest of the night. Moonlight’s Best Picture victory was marred when La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner. The crew of La La Land was already on the stage beginning acceptance speeches when the mistake was announced by producer Jordan Horowitz. However, both teams handled the situation well, and the transition on stage was relatively smooth except for the atmosphere of disbelief.

Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from the movie Trolls was the head-bobbing opening performance. Auli’i Cravalho performed “How Far I’ll Go” live, from the Moana soundtrack, and John Legend later performed “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land. Many Hollywood stars not nominated still shined as presenters throughout the ceremony. These included the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson, Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Aniston, and Michael J. Fox.

Political statements were a constant throughout the ceremony, from Jimmy Kimmel poking fun at President Trump, to others stating a moral opposition to his policies. Asghar Farhadi, director of The Salesman, boycotted the event in silent protest to the Immigration Ban. He still managed to make his thoughts known in his acceptance speech addressing a divided world. The reoccurring themes for the 89th Academy Awards seemed to be unity and diversity. Many celebrities view films as a way of uniting everyone since they believe true art has universal implications. The Academy Awards have also been criticized in recent years for the lack of minority representation, but this time everyone was welcomed to the table. Moonlight and Fences were nominated in multiple categories and won. Moonlight went on to win three Academy Awards including Best Picture and Viola Davis won for her enthralling performance in Fences.

Despite a sense of tension and the Best Picture snafu, the ceremony was buoyed by its enthusiastic host, passionate guest performances, and the gracious winners. The 89th Academy Awards were entertaining to watch. The suspense of waiting for the envelope to be opened and the winners announced is enough to keep you on the edge of your seat for most of the ceremony. The Academy Awards also introduces audiences around the world to films that are relatively unknown. It’s safe to say Hollywood succeeded at what it does best: entertaining the masses.