90th Oscars: Shape of Water leads at politically painted show

Los Angeles– “The Shape of Water” emerged as the big winner with four honours at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony — including Best Picture — where celebration of cinema was laced with political jibes as well as powerful statements on debates like sexual harassment, immigration and gender balance that are plaguing Hollywood.

Gary Oldman won Best Actor award for his role as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” and actress Frances McDormand nabbed her second best actress Oscar for “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”, two decades after winning an award for “Fargo”.

There were jibes at US president Donald Trump and disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, while some celebrities pledged support to immigrants and pitched for gender balance in the industry.

India had missed the Oscar race in the foreign film category this year with “Newton” being ousted in initial stages of the shortlist.

Also, Indian actor Ali Fazal-starrer “Victoria & Abdul” and Anupam Kher-starrer “The Big Sick” lost on their chance to win an Oscar.

Celebrated Indian screen legends Shashi Kapoor and Sridevi were remembered during the “In Memoriam” montage along with late Hollywood icons like John Heard, Tony Anne Walker, Jane Foray, Robert Osborne, Martin Landau, Glenne Headly, Roger Moore, George A. Romero and Jerry Lewis.

Popular TV host Jimmy Kimmel opened the night at Dolby Theatre here on Sunday by revisiting the past.

He took a swipe at last year’s Best Picture winner fiasco wherein “La La Land” was accidentally awarded instead of “Moonlight” due to an envelope mix-up, saying: “This year, when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away”.

The ‘envelopegate’ was quite a scene-stealer at the event, aired in India on Star Movies and Star Movies HD.

Amid the sexual misconduct allegations that have emerged in Hollywood and across the world since complaints against disgraced producer Weinstein came to the fore, Kimmel poked fun at the Oscar statuette.

“Oscar is a very respected man in Hollywood, just look at him. He keeps his hands where you can see them, never says a rude word, and most importantly, no penis at all. He’s literally a statue of limitation,” he quipped.

Kimmel also urged the winners to say whatever they wanted — be it on sexual harassment or any other issue — but keep it short.

He also offered a Jet Ski to anyone who gave the shortest speech, which finally went to Mark Bridges, who won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for “Phantom Thread” for his approximately 30-second acceptance note.

Coming to the winners, “The Shape Of Water” dominated the show — much like this year’s nominations — with four awards. It came as a surprise considering filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is facing a copyright infringement lawsuit for the film. He took home the golden statuette in the Best Director category for the film.

“The Shape Of Water”, which tells a story of a deaf woman’s love for an aquatic creature, was also named as the Best Picture, along with Best Production Design and Best Score accolades.

Oldman, scoring his first Oscar for “Darkest Hour”, said: “The movies, such is their power, captivated a young man from South London and gave him a dream.”

“Darkest Hour” also earned a Make-up and Hairstyling award.

Actress Frances McDormand got here latest Oscar for her role as a grieving mother who takes on the police chief of Ebbing for not doing enough to find her daughter’s murderer in “Three Billboards …”.

McDormand, 60, pipped, among others, “The Post” star Meryl Streep, who scored her 21st nomination and the 17th in this category at the Oscars.

McDormand left an impact with her acceptance speech after she asked every female nominee in the room to stand up, and asked male gatekeepers to ask them about their projects and ideas not just at Oscar after-parties, but in office meetings following awards season.

As her fellow nominees stood, she said: “We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.” She urged stars to demand inclusion riders — requirements for gender or racial diversity — in their contracts.

“Coco” was named as Best Animated Feature Film at the Oscars 2018, and co-director Lee Unkrich dedicated the honour to the people and culture of Mexico, saying “representation matters”.

Some records were also set.

At 89, filmmaker James Ivory became the oldest Oscar winner for his adapted screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name”. And Jordan Peele became the first African-American original screenplay winner for “Get Out”.

Actors Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney picked up Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress honours.

Extending support to the ‘Dreamers’ in the US, Pakistan-origin comedian Kumail Nanjiani and actress Lupita Nyong’o from Kenya also took a dig at their own immigrant status.

“We are the two actors who you keep hearing about but whose names you have trouble pronouncing,” Nyong’o quipped.

Nanjiani added: “Actually, I have to complain… Kumail Nanjiani is my stage name. My actual given Pakistani name is Chris Pine. So you can imagine how annoyed I was when the other, the white one showed up… The real Chris Pine…

“And I am from Pakistan and Iowa, two places that nobody from Hollywood can find on the map.”

Actresses Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek and Annabella Sciorra, who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, walked on the stage at Oscars 2018 to stress on the need to change the culture in Hollywood with focus on diversity and equality.

The ceremony was about hope and positivity, as Judd said the next 90 years of the Academy Awards will “empower these limitless possibilities of equality, diversity, inclusivity, intersectionality — that’s what this year has promised us”.

There was also a performance by Common and Andra Day, along with social activists, who shared the stage while the artistes performed the “Stand up for something” from the film “Marshall”.

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