The greatest moments from the 89th Academy Awards

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The 89th Academy Awards ceremony was definitely a fascinating one. There were surprises, mistakes, lots of fun and of course lots of stars. Here’s a list with the most memorable moments from last night’s ceremony.

Suicide Squad won an Oscar

As one member of the studio pointed out last night, we can now refer to Suicide Squad  as “the Oscar-winning movie”, joking that it had more awards than The Shawshank Redemption. Yes, the superhero (or I should say supervillain) film has gone against the odds to win the Academy Award for “Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling”, becoming one of the lowest rated films to do so. I’m an ignorant when it comes to hairstyling, so I’m not going to judge the decision although we have to give it to the Academy for recognizing a good aspect in an otherwise bad film.

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Jimmy Kimmel’s bullying at Matt Damon

Matt Damon had predicted that his presence in a ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel was “going to probably be ugly”. He was right. Jimmy Kimmel did everything to hit on Damon reigniting their infamous feud. Kimmel called him fat, selfish, a jerk, joked about his acting, he even took over as conductor to play him off while he was trying to announce the “Best Original Screenplay” nominees.

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Casey Affleck’s win

Casey Affleck did not only beat Denzel Washington to win the Oscar for “Best Actor in a Leading Role”, he also beat his brother and childhood friend Matt Damon, the latter’s first nomination dating back in 1998. Affleck was among the favourites, especially after winning both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA for his performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. However, even if his performance was widely acclaimed, many felt that he should have never been nominated after the controversial sexual harassment lawsuits against him in 2010. The incidents resurfaced a few months ago when Manchester by the sea  started gaining the public’s attention, but  apparently they weren’t enough to persuade the Academy

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Viola Davis’ acceptance speech

Davis was the frontrunner for the “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” category, so her win was not a surprise at all. A powerful and emotional speech was also expected by most and the acclaimed actress didn’t disappoint. Her acceptance speech left everyone speechless with many in the audience crying and Jimmy Kimmel joking that her speech had earned her an Emmy.

Exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist, and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.” – part of the speech.

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The records that were broken

It was a night filled with records. Damien Chazelle became the youngest person to win the “Best Director” award at 32 years. OJ: Made in America won the statuette for best documentary becoming the longest film ever to win an Oscar with a running time of 7 hours and 47 minutes. Redemption came at last for Kevin O’Connell who won an Oscar after being nominated for 20 different films in the past with not a single win. This was the biggest losing streak in the Oscars’ history. Finally, even though it sounds surprising, Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim ever to win an Oscar for an acting category.

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Asghar Farhadi’s message

Iran won its second “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar last night for The Salesman, but sadly, the director of the film, Asghar Farhadi, didn’t attend the ceremony. The reason was Donald Trump’s ban that denies entry to the US to citizens of 7 countries including Iran. Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari accepted the award on his behalf and read a message written by him for the occasion. Farhadi’s expressed his frustration over the controversial ban calling it disrespectful and inhumane.

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La La Land won best picture, oh wait…

The night was almost over. There was only one award remaining: “Best Motion Picture of the Year”. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were summonned to announce the winner with La La Land  being the favourite. Warren Beatty opened the envelope, paused and after a puzzling look, he passed it over to Dunaway who announced La La Land as the winner. The winners (Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt and Fred Berger) began their speech and the ceremony was reaching its end. But no, it couldn’t end like this. The night had a plot twist worthy of a Hitchcockian thriller. Horowitz announced that the real winner was Moonlight. Among disbelief from pretty much everyone, the content of the winner’s envelope was revealed. It was plain: “Best Picture – Moonlight”. I was trying to figure out if a mistake did happen or if it was another of Kimmel’s jokes, when Beatty said that he was given the wrong envelope and specifically the one for “Best Actress in a Leading Role”. Now Emma Stone had won the award for that category. That explained Beatty’s puzzling look. However, the envelope was passed to Faye Dunaway who just said “La La Land”. This might well be the biggest mistake in the history of the awards and it is definitely one of the main reasons we will remember this year’s ceremony.

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You can see the results in detail on http://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2017

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Review: Manchester by the Sea (2016)

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Kenneth Lonergan’s latest film is an insightful study of how people deal with loss, grief and trauma. A very powerful movie indeed that aims to show us that love can be healing and hope is always present. The story is unfolded slowly and requires our patience, but by the time it’s over, we realize that it has taught us many a lesson.

Our main character is Lee (Casey Affleck), an ordinary working man who lives in Boston. At the beginning, he seems like a normal single man who carries his everyday job with no flaws, no complains and most notably, no smiles. Until someday, he learns that his brother is dead, which forces him to go back to his hometown, Manchester, Minnesota, and take care of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges), whose mother has left the family. Meanwhile, we get to see flashbacks of Lee’s former life in Manchester. There is a striking difference between the past and the present: Lee used to be happy. He had a wife (Michelle Williams), three children, his friends, his brother. So what happened? Well, a tragic mistake has cost him everything and continues to haunt him. Combined with all the memories he has to face in his hometown now, Lee is a wreck. 

Surprisingly, what seems to be a heavy burden, becomes his salvation. Lee is reluctant to become Patrick’s guardian, but as it turns out, their relationship becomes his redemption. It seems that he has forgotten how it is to care for someone. It seems that he has finally a reason to live, something that he lacked for some time. He is not expressive, not at all. However, you can see that his life with Patrick does him good. It is obvious when in the last scene he does something he hasn’t done in quite a while: he smiles. Not just a smirk or a movement of his lips, but a true, heartfelt smile.

The film is powerful and filled with emotion and it’s impressive how Kenneth Lonergan can transmit so many feelings through a character so self-contained. Casey Affleck delivers the performance of his life with the rest of the cast doing an excellent job as well. What I loved the most was how beautiful the picture was both visually and aurally. I was surprised when I noticed that although the film was nominated for a lot of awards, it got no nominations for the score apart from a Satellite award. I hope that next month’s Oscars will not overlook it. If there is something missing from Manchester by the Sea, it is a climax. Every scene seems like another day in the life, nothing too memorable. This is the only drawback (if you can call it a drawback) I could note. I’m afraid this may result in the film being forgotten in the near future, so you’d better go watch it now.

8/10