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Kimmel launches 'positive' Oscars, Coco, Janney win

Sam Rockwell accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. AP Photo.

 

Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. AP Photo

Los Angeles, Mar. 5 (AP): The 90th Academy Awards brought the most tumultuous awards season in recent memory to a close Sunday with a ceremony that confronted the post-Harvey Weinstein era for Hollywood while handing Netflix its first feature film Oscar, honouring the transgender drama A Fantastic Woman and awarding Allison Janney best actress.

Host Jimmy Kimmel got the Oscars underway Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles with an opening monologue that mixed Weinstein punchlines with earnest comments about reforming gender equality in Hollywood. And of course, Kimmel — returning to the scene of the flub — dove straight into material about last year's infamous best-picture mix-up.

"I do want to mention, this year, when you hear your name called, don't get up right away," said Kimmel. "Give us a minute."

But while Kimmel spent a few moments on the fiasco known as Envelopegate, he expended far more minutes frankly and soberly discussing the parade of sexual harassment allegations that have coursed through the movie business in the wake of the revelations regarding Weinstein. He also spoke straightforwardly about the industry's poor record for female directors and equal pay.

"We can't let bad behavior slide anymore," said Kimmel. "The world is watching us."

Gesturing to a giant statue on the stage, he praised Oscar, himself for keeping "his hands where you can see them" and for having "no penis at all." But Kimmel introduced the broadcast as "a night for positivity," and cited, among other things, the box-office sensation of "Black Panther."

"I remember a time when the major studios didn't believe a woman or a minority could open a super hero movie — and the reason I remember that time is because it was March of last year," said Kimmel.

The night's acting honors are considered fairly locked for nominees, and things began as expected. Two widely admired veterans won their first Oscars: Allison Janney (I, Tonya) took best supporting actress and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) won best supporting actor.

"I did it all by myself," deadpanned Janney, who added after a pause: "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Rockwell dedicated his award to his late friend and fellow New York actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died in 2014. "For my buddy, Phil Hoffman," said Rockwell, raising his Oscar.

Kimmel, with stopwatch in hand, also emphasized keeping acceptance speeches short. He promised the shortest speech would win a Jet Ski. Go long, and winners might get Lakeith Stansfield screaming "Get out!" as the actor briefly reprised his character from the Oscar-nominated Get Out on stage.

Early wins went to makeup that adorned Gary Oldman's Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, the period costume design of Phantom  Thread and the sound editing for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Guillermo del Toro's monster fable The Shape of Water, which came in with a leading 13 nods, took best production design.

Best documentary went to Netflix's Icarus, Bryan Fogel's investigation into doping in sports, aided by the assistance of Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory who candidly discussed the doping scheme under Vladimir Putin. It's the first feature film Oscar for Netflix. Fogel dedicated the award to Rodchenkov, "our fearless whistleblower who now lives in grave danger."

"At least now we know Putin didn't rig this election," said Kimmel after the Icarus win.

In another topical moment, Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani joined Kenyan-born Lupita Nyong'o to salute the so-called Dreamers — immigrants brought to the US illegally as children and here without permanent protection from deportation. "Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood and dreams are the foundation of America. And, so, to all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you," Nanjiani said.

Later, Pixar's colorful ode to Mexican culture Coco won best animated film. Best foreign language film went to Chile's A Fantastic Woman, Sebastian Lelio's drama starring transgender actress Daniela Vega.

"The biggest thank you of all to the people of Mexico," said director Lee Unkrich to loud applause. "Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters."

The ceremony is the crescendo of one of Hollywood's most turbulent awards seasons ever — one that saw cascading allegations of sexual harassment topple movie moguls, upended Oscar campaigns and new movements launched to improve gender equality throughout the industry.

Margot Robbie, left, reacts as Allison Janney wins the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for I, Tonya at the Oscars on Sunday. AP Photo

 

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