After the mistake heard round the world at last year’s ceremony that ended with Moonlight unexpectedly triumphing over La La Land to win Best Picture, there were no such surprises or particularly memorable moments at this year’s Academy Awards. Despite a more diverse and eclectic group of nominations, the evening was marked by a string of safe and unremarkable winners.
The Shape Of Water was the big winner of the night, taking home the coveted Best Picture prize in what was perhaps the most wide open Best Picture race in years, while Guillermo del Toro also won Best Director, making it the first time since the 87th ceremony that both Best Picture and Best Director went to the same film.
As widely expected, Gary Oldman cashed in his first ever nomination with a win for Best Actor for his turn as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Frances McDormand won her second Oscar for Best Actress for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, while Sam Rockwell also took home a statue for Best Supporting Actor for the same film.
Allison Janney scored the lone win for I, Tonya by being named Best Supporting Actress, while two of the most acclaimed films of the year – Get Out and Call Me By Your Name – could only take home an Oscar each, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively. Another highly acclaimed film, Lady Bird, didn’t win in any of its five nominated categories.
The Shape Of Water also took home wins for Best Original Score and Production Design, to take its total wins to four and wind up the leader in wins on the night. Another expected but well earned win was Disney/Pixar’s Coco taking home a statue for Best Animated Feature, while Chile’s A Fantastic Woman won Best Foreign Language Film.
Despite Blade Runner 2049‘s poorer than expected box office showing back in October and its lack of nominations at the ceremony, it was able to win an award for Best Cinematography, which meant that legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins finally picked up an Academy Award with his fourteenth nomination.
Despite no wins in the major categories, Dunkirk ended the night as the recipient of three awards, for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing, while Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan‘s timely documentary on Russian-sanctioned doping, Icarus, won Best Documentary Feature.
So after arguably the most famous Oscars moment ever last year, this ceremony was defined by many expected winners and a feeling that voters could have been a bit more daring in their selections. While the set of nominations this year was filled with excellent movies, we missed out on a game-changing film like Get Out getting the major recognition it deserved.
The Academy’s use of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) can sometimes lead to a surprising upset like last year, but other times it means a safe, inoffensive film takes home the biggest prizes. One could argue that turned out to be the case this year, although a Best Picture winner containing sex with a fish is certainly a first for the Oscars.