I would be remiss in my coverage of the 95th Academy Awards if I didn’t address the most pressing question some of you have: How did they address the most annoyingly momentous thing that happened during the 94th?
Answer: Host Jimmy Kimmel referred to Will Smith’s shocking, comedy special-inspiring slap of Chris Rock several times while managing to never mention either of their names. ”If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show,” Kimmel ribbed in his monologue, “you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.”
I think the point was to acknowledge the event while not taking anything away from this year’s nominees and winners. While there were almost too many mentions, Kimmel made the point that Hollywood’s biggest, fanciest, most referential night can’t be stopped. If that accountant who messed up the “Moonlight” envelope couldn’t kill it, nothing will.
Below is a list of the evening’s highs, lows and Pauly Shore-related moments, because it was that sort of random night.
Best Baltimore-related moment: Arbutus-raised David Byrne, performing “This Is A Life” from “Everything, Everywhere All At Once” with Stephanie Hsu and Son Lux. (You knew we were gonna bring it back to Maryland. It’s my job. Not sorry.) And though the track did not win Best Original Song, the film took home some of the biggest prizes of the night, including Best Picture.
Snootiest red carpet moment: My favorite fashion bloggers Tom and Lorenzo have long referred to the tedious but expected process of promoting movies as a pole dance. It’s probably annoying and undignified, but it’s also likely in your contract and no one feels bad for you. Bona fide movie star Hugh Grant has been a part of this industry for about 30 years, so his obviously uninterested interview with model Ashley Graham, during which he refused to yield even one nth of cordiality, says less about Graham’s questions than his rudeness. It’s not a root canal, it’s a party. You’re rich. She didn’t crash your dinner with a microphone. You came up on her job and clowned her like she was trespassing. Boo.
Al Pacino Bittersweet Moment of Outrage: I will never begrudge Jamie Lee Curtis from “Everything Everywhere All At Once” for winning an Oscar after a lifetime of snubs, but that she was awarded the Best Supporting Actress statue in the same year as “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s” Angela Bassett, who should have won for Best Actress almost 30 years ago for “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” burns. Just like Pacino winning Best Actor for “Scent of A Woman” after years of snubs while simultaneously robbing the more deserving Denzel Washington for “Malcolm X”, this righting of wrongs just created another wrong.
Best “I Lost” Face: Bassett, who was clearly displeased by her loss. I notice that she’s getting all the smoke on Twitter for seemingly being ungracious, but “The Banshees of Inisherin’s” Kerry Condon, also a nominee, wasn’t clapping either. Just saying.
Bigger Shock Than Bassett Losing: Guillermo Del Toro’s creepy, off-putting, nightmare-inducing “Pinocchio” for Best Animated Feature. My kid, who was stalling his bedtime, yelled, “That was scary! What about ‘Puss In Boots?’” Indeed, child. Now go to bed.
Best “Goonies”-related shoutout: Ke Huy Quan’s sweet mention of former co-star Jeff “Chunk” Cohen during his moving, inspirational Best Supporting Actor speech for “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
Best “Encino Man”-related shoutout: Kimmel, noting that Quan and Best Actor nominee (and eventual winner) Brendan Fraser were both in the 1992 comedy, probably hurting the feelings of co-star Pauly Shore. I will be saying Shore’s line “Weezin’ the ju-ICE” for the next week and I don’t care if it’s dumb.
Sweetest moment that was actually a commercial for the home office: The live-action “The Little Mermaid” trailer reveal was, yes, an ad for Disney, which owns ABC, which broadcasts the Oscars. But it was still a wonderful moment of movie magic that made both me and the child who was still not asleep clap unironically like seals.
Best Bassett-related moment: “Hey Auntie, we love you,” Michael B. Jordan said to the robbed Bassett, paraphrasing his iconic “Black Panther” line and acknowledging, succinctly and classily, the extent to which his former costar was robbed. Look, it’s a competition and someone has to lose. But in a year in which two other prominent Black actresses were left off the nomination list — perhaps because voters felt they’d gotten all they deserved — this felt deliberate. And that Kimmel mentioned the un-nominated Viola Davis (”The Woman King”) and Danielle Deadwyler (”Till”) outright in the beginning of the ceremony seemed like an attempt to admit that they should have been honored.
Wins about which I am most torn not involving Bassett: Many critics, including those in the fat acceptance movement, have been vocal about their upset over “The Whale,” which features the inarguably talented and beloved Fraser in a fat suit rather than casting an actual fat actor, and presents the main character, they feel, as pathetic because of his weight. So the Oscars awarded the film for Best Makeup and Hairstyling and for Best Actor, which may be deserved, but seems to be a direct comment on the backlash.
Biggest cry: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” costume designer Ruth Carter acknowledging her mother Mabel, who she said died “this past week” at 101, and asking the late Chadwick Boseman, the former King T’Challa, to “please take care of mom.”
Best teacher shoutout: “Everything Everywhere All At Once” co-director Daniel Scheinert pretending to mention the educators who hadn’t believed in him while ultimately namechecking those who had. Teachers? We remember what you’ve done for us. And it’s so important. Thank you.
Second-best Scheinert moment: When collecting the Best Director trophy with Daniel Kwan, he mentioned “dressing in drag as a kid, which is a threat to nobody!” Because it’s not, you know.
Best subtle historical acknowledgement: Halle Berry, the first and only African American winner for Best Actress, presenting that award to Michelle Yeoh, the first Asian actress to win. It’s really too late in the calendar for firsts, you know? But it’s awesome.
Thing I hope I never have to write about again: Anybody slapping anyone else at the Oscars.