In 2023, executive producers of the show Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner stopped with that nonsense and finally leaned in on what the Academy Awards should all be about: A celebration of the year in cinema.
This is not a new phenomenon. We said in our 2016 review that producers seemed to forget about that celebration of movies.
In 2020, just ahead of the global shutdown, for the 92nd Academy Awards, we said the ceremony featured funny and memorable moments, but that it didn’t always pass the logic test: Most of the ceremony moved along smoothly with no host, but I can’t help wonder if a Master of Ceremonies would bring some well-needed glue to create one cohesive show.
hat was also the year of the presenter for the presenter. 1917 actor George MacKay presented Olivia Colman, who was presenting Best Actor.
In 2021, during the ceremony held at Union Station, no movie clips were presented at all and the Original Song performances were pre-taped and relegated to the pre-show.
Last year, we noted how the Grammys focused on celebrating the art and the nominees, unlike the 2022 Oscars.
Producers, The Academy and ABC disastrously tried to “fix” the show in 2022 by presenting eight categories before the show. It only sewed discord among members and guilds and left the ceremony imbalanced.
It was nice to have the host, Jimmy Kimmel, celebrate the movies and avoid the standard line that no one watched these movies, including him. While he may have been guilty of using this line in previous years, he didn’t this year.
From the Oscars Top Gun-themed trailer to that parachute ceremony opener (see below), Kimmel leaned in on celebrating the movies, in true Oscars host fashion.
Other memorable bits by Kimmel included bringing in an emotional support donkey as a tribute to Jenny from “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
I also loved this line: We now join Good Morning America, already in progress.
Not everything worked. The bit with the supposed viewer questions in the last hour didn’t land and was pretty much shut down by Malala Yousafzai.
The set was also a sight to behold, with beautiful golden era patterns and movie marquees with a big Oscar outline on stage right. The use of a video screen was seamless and helped the ceremony flow and change with the show.
When Maggie Gyllenhaal picked up the phone to talk to her about her Oscar nomination for best-adapted screenplay for the writer/director’s debut film, The Lost Daughter, she said she hadn’t intended to celebrate but soon gave in.
I drank a lot of champagne already today!
The film came together because the producing partners Talia Kleinhendler and Osnat Handelsman-Keren (also producers with Gyllenhaal on The Kindergarten Teacher) had the idea that Gyllenhaal herself should direct a project. The film stars Olivia Coleman and Jessie Buckley, nominated in the best and best supporting actress categories this year.
Watching The Lost Daughter you can tell there is a lot of honesty in Gyllenhaal’s writing and direction. This is a film about a woman’s particular experience in the world and is something that can only be told correctly from a particular lens, which is why Gyllenhaal felt this story was ripe for adaptation.
Since there aren’t nearly enough women directing, aspects of our experience aren’t going to be expressed. I mean, there are men who observe us very well but there are also going to be blindspots, so these personal experiences won’t be expressed until women are the people making the movies.
Her nomination for best adapted screenplay suggests there is a conscious effort to make space for different perspectives, and that the expression of these perspectives will be seen as something new and compelling. When Gyllenhaal talks about her vision for future Hollywood, she hopes there will be room for new stories helmed by an inclusive group of people.
We’ve gotten used to a certain kind of storytelling, a certain kind of language, a certain kind of hero and heroine that look and behave a certain way, she said. I think when space is made for different perspectives, all of those things will change including the language. [We’ll see] that people are compelled by that, that people want something new. We’ll realize that the language that movies are being told in is not the only language. I’m really particularly interested to see what all those new languages look like.