Challenged with the Herculean task of grabbing the attention of TV audiences to watch an awards show honoring films most of them haven’t seen proved to be too much for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [AMPAS] on Sunday night. Early ratings results indicate of whopping 16-percent drop in viewership from last year.
AMPAS did nothing to help their mission by inviting back the polarizing, smarmy, and glib host Jimmy Kimmel for a second consecutive year. Unapologetically biased and increasingly unfunny during his late night TV monologues, Kimmel was the exact wrong person to host this show this year. His pointed, blunt, and bad-taste jabs at the right — usually red meat for the Hollywood elite — largely fell flat and likely reduced his already low approval numbers amongst those living in “fly over” red states.
It took less than a minute after the broadcast started for Kimmel to begin his attacks. When “Black Panther” title character Chadwick Boseman was shown on the red carpet Kimmel quipped via voiceover “imagine a country with a black leader — wouldn’t that be great?”
Pointing out that this was the 90th anniversary of the awards, Kimmel stated that “Oscar,” being too old to attend, “was home watching Fox News.” Addressing a 20-foot replica of the iconic statue, Kimmel noted how its hands were visible but its penis was not.
Where are Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, and Billy Crystal when we need them?
During this same stretch, Kimmel said President Trump thought “Get Out” was "the best first three-quarters of a movie this year” — insinuating Mr. Trump approves of slavery. Veering towards thoughtful, Kimmel acknowledged that the majority of the nominated films are low-profile and artsy, which is true. The Oscars aren’t for blockbusters which is also true. Not content with leaving well enough alone, Kimmel said the industry also makes alternative lifestyle movies for the purpose of upsetting Vice President Pence.
Before ending his pathetic opening monologue, Kimmel included a comment about the recent Parkland, Florida, high school shootings and the N.R.A.
Later in the show, before performing one of the Best Song nominees, actor/rapper Common started with a rambling diatribe that also mentioned Parkland and all but blamed the N.R.A. for it.
Kimmel’s final misguided political comment came after the awarding of the Best Documentary Feature to “Icarus” — a movie which uncovered the Russian government’s clear participation in Olympic sports doping. Kimmel’s response: “now we know Putin didn’t rig this competition.”
In the wake of the full blown political content in the recent Emmy and Golden Globes telecasts, it’s a good bet that AMPAS leaned on anyone getting near a microphone to tone it down. There was no all-black clothing, no soap-boxing and only a minimum of visible hash tag lapel pins. This is not to say the #metoo movement was ignored completely.
Appearing together onstage, Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Mira Sorvino — who all accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct — introduced a video featuring minority and female performers and filmmakers speaking to the subject of inclusion in the movie industry. As protest statements go it was done tastefully and with relative restraint.
Handled with restraint but not subtly was the presenting of an award by Pakistan-born Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) and Mexican-born Lupita Nyong’o (“Black Panther”) who were able to address another issue (Dreamers) in an effort to take care of another item on the liberal issue check list.
In the evening’s most poignant and surprising passage, Native American actor (and volunteer Vietnam War veteran) Wes Studi introduced a moving war film montage thanking military personnel and their families. Not surprisingly, Kimmel ruined it by apologizing for the inclusion of images showing Matt Damon in “Saving Private Ryan.” Why, you might ask? Kimmel is still upset at a nearly 10 year old music video featuring his then-girlfriend Sarah Silverman bragging of her recent intimate relations with Damon.
The closest any acceptance speech got to militant was that of Best Lead Actress winner Frances McDormand asking every female nominee in the audience to stand (and most did) while stating “I have two words to say: inclusion rider.” If you’re not familiar with this term it can be included in a performer’s contract to guarantee gender and/or racial diversity both on-and-off screen during the production of a film. In other words, it guarantees everyone a participation trophy. Kimmel’s reaction after this was to proclaim “I wish I was a woman,” a statement which requires no commentary or follow-up.
As ABC has the TV rights for the Oscars for at least the next couple of years they might want to possibly consider bringing back someone who can sing, dance, tell a joke, and look good all at the same time without offending or polarizing anyone — Hugh Jackman, for example.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national media outlets and is currently the only newspaper-based film critic providing original content in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace and he recently co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle. Over the last two decades, Mr. Clark has written over 3,500 movie reviews and film related articles for the Gwinnett Daily Post and is one of the scant few conservative-minded U.S. critics. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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