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20 Best, Worst and Most WTF Moments of Oscars 2018

From Kimmel’s monologue to deserved wins (and unfortunate shut-outs), the highlights, low points and headscratchers from last night’s Oscars

All envelopes were delicately opened and oh-so-carefully read at the 2018 Academy Awards, one year after that stunning Best Picture/La La Land v. Moonlight gaffe that will likely go down in history as the Oscars’ ultimate WTF moment. And indeed, care and delicacy was the mood of the hour at this year’s 90th anniversary ceremony, hot on the heels of a year that saw some of Hollywood’s most pernicious myths about itself leveled to the ground.

From host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue to speeches by presenters and winners alike, much lip service was paid to the industry’s newfound commitment to combatting its own ingrained sexism and racism. And that’s not necessarily a dig against lip service – visibility matters. Seriously, who’d have guessed we’d hear the word “intersectionality” or see an out-and-proud trans person (A Fantastic Woman‘s Daniela Vega) on the Academy Awards’ play-it-safe stage?

That said, the films, creators and actors that the Academy actually honored were a fairly predictable bunch, and didn’t necessarily reflect the “wokeness” that the Oscars seems to believe itself capable of. But whether you’re rolling your eyes or thrilled that The Shape of Water took the night’s top honors, at least we can all agree on one thing: Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph should totally cohost in 2019. Here’s the best, the worst and the most head-scratchiest moments from Hollywood’s big evening. 

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Best: Kumail Nanjiani and Lupita Nyong’o, Your New Favorite Rom-Com Duo

While Nanjiani went home empty-handed last night – he and his wife/The Big Sick co-writer Emily V. Gordon were nominated for best original screenplay – he definitely gets a theoretical trophy for landing the most jokes about racial diversity and inclusion. Taking the stage to present with the fabulously bespectacled Lupita Nyong’o, both of whom expressed their solidarity with DREAMers, he cracked wise about pronunciation problems when it comes to “foreign” names, adding that his Pakistani name is Chris Pine. (“You can imagine how annoyed I was when the white Chris Pine showed up,” he deadpanned.) Later, the Silicon Valley star saved a well-meaning but stiff montage about representation from being unbearably earnest when he made the salient point that he relates to so many movies made by straight white dudes, about straight white dudes, so why can’t they do the same for everybody else? Meanwhile, he casual comic chemistry between these two performers was pitch-perfect. Somebody get these two in a romantic comedy. Or an Oscars hosting gig, if Maya and Tiffany aren’t going to do it next year. PR

Matt Petit

Worst: ‘Lady Bird’ Gets Shut Out

It’s a story as old as the Academy Awards (all 90 years of ’em) that the least showy films often get the least love. And this year, the most egregious casualty was Lady Bird, a movie so flawlessly executed that it enjoyed a historic 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, was nominated for five Oscars. And yet walked away empty-handed, despite the fact Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut reinvigorated the coming-of-age genre with unparalleled grace, humor and honesty. What makes Lady Bird so remarkable is how unremarkable it seems on the surface, but that doesn’t mean it should not have been honored at all. JS

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Best: An Exuberant, Diverse Array of Musical Performances

Some years, Best Song is a real snoozer of a category. But 2018 brought an embarrassment of riches, performed with gusto by musicians and dancers who certainly weren’t phoning it in. It’s hard to decide what we loved most: Mary J. Blige tearing the house down with her soulful rendition of “Mighty River” from Mudbound; Broadway vet Keala Settle singing the pants off of The Greatest Showman‘s “This Is Me”; Andra Day and Common’s timely rendition of “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall (complete with a shout-out to the Parkland student protesters); or indie-folk icon Sufjan Steven’s quiet, elegiac “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name, complete with St. Vincent and the Punch Brothers’ Chris Thile backing him up. But we’re thrilled Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert J. Lopez’s Coco tearjerker “Remember Me” won the night, complete with Gael García Bernal’s heartfelt – if, shall we say, somewhat quavering – performance of the opening verse. JS

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Best: Eddie Vedder’s “In Memoriam” Tribute, Scored With a Stripped-Down Tom Petty Song

Eddie Vedder had the unenviable task of taking the stage after an evening of impressive, exuberant musical performances. But the Pearl Jam frontman blended into the scenery in the best possible way, offering up a stripped-down version of Tom Petty’s 1999 single “Room at the Top” for the annual “In Memoriam” segment. As if grappling with the loss of Jonathan Demme, Glenne Headly, George A. Romero and Harry Dean Stanton weren’t hard enough, the whole montage was that much sadder for being haunted by the late Petty’s unforgivable, unbelievable absence. In retrospect, Vedder was an eerily poignant choice, seeing as so many of his own peers are also gone. PR 

WTF: That Out-of-Nowhere Tribute to the Military

There was no shortage of Hooray-for-Hollywood montages (some might say too many) at the Oscars this year, and most of them were at least topical to the ceremony. But we’ll copt to being a bit flummoxed by a mid-show homage to the U.S. military and movies about war, introduced by actor/Vietnam War vet Wes Studi. Most of the clips shown – out-of-context moments from movies including Saving Private Ryan, American Sniper, The Deer Hunter and Zero Dark Thirty – seemed to glorify cinema’s romanticized idea of war rather than salute the troops; even the featured films that have dealt with the subject in complex ways were reduced here to just run-and-gun gmoments. Not that our fighting men and women don’t deserve to be honored – they most certainly do. But we don’t really get what the subject has to do with a movie awards show. JS

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