February 26, 2017



We’re live-blogging the Oscars tonight, for what may be a historic night for La La Land–or not  The red carpet arrivals were notable for their lack of political commentary, and we’ll see how long that lasts during the telecast as well.  Stay with us all evening.  All times are PT.

5:30:  The answer to the question of how the Oscars would try to top the Golden Globes recreation of the La La Land opening number is… Justin Timberlake, and the song from Trolls.  Which, you know, nice try.

5:34:  No offense to Nicole Kidman, but someone married to a famous singer, she seems remarkably un-musical.

5:36:  Jimmy Kimmel is trying to do non-sectarian political jokes, so incisiveness won’t be the order of the day.

5:41:  The only chance you’ll ever have to see Jimmy Kimmel do an Isabelle Huppert joke.

5:44:  There’s no easier way for Hollywood to resist Trump than a standing O for Meryl Streep.

5:45:  Remember this Supporting Actor montage when the orchestra starts playing off the winners of the Screenplay and Directing categories later tonight.

5:47:  The first winner of the night is big favorite Mahershala Ali for Moonlight.  The Dev Patel groundswell didn’t happen.

5:51:  The speech was notably apolitical.

5:52:  OK, settle down, everyone.  According to the rundown, there are 5 awards until Supporting Actress, and then 12  until the home stretch of the Screenplay categories.  Pace yourself.

5:55:  ABC is going to be plugging its LGBT miniseries heavily all night.

5:57:  Ladies and gentlemen, Suicide Squad is an Academy Award-winning motion picture.  Blame the make-up.

6:00:  The night isn’t going to be a La La Land sweep, as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them takes Best Costume Design.

6:03:  Honestly, who guessed that was going to be a Cadillac commercial?

6:04:  It was hard to focus on that Rolex commercial after the shot of Bill Paxton from Titanic, gone all too soon today.

6:08:  3 of the 5 nominees for Best Documentary are about race, so welcome the cast of Hidden Figures to give out the award.  Subtle, Academy.

6:11:  A 8-hour ESPN documentary is the Oscar-winning Best Documentary.  That’s not a complaint, but we’re all going to have to get used to TV and film bleeding into each other over the next years.

6:18:  This probably won’t be Lin-Manuel Miranda’s EGOT year, but it would be a surprise if that day doesn’t come.

6:19:  Walmart is doing the BMW thing of hiring movie directors to film its commercials.  First up:  Antoine Fuqua, with a Spielberg-meets-company logo thing.

6:23:  Kimmel’s Trump jokes seem to be getting a little more pointed, introducing the head of the Academy of Arts & Sciences by noting how unusual it is to have a president who believes in both.

6:26:  Awards shows are desperate for viral moments, and this one just had tiny parachutes of candy descending on the audience.  Meh.

6:27:  In as much of an upset as Best Sound Editing can muster, the award didn’t go to La La Land or Hacksaw -Ridge, but to Arrival.  An extremely deserved award.  Note that this means La La Land won’t set a new Oscar weapon, because 2 of its remaining 12 nominations are in the same category.

6:30:  La La Land was supposed to win Sound Mixing, but it went to Hacksaw Ridge.  That’s 3 nominations and 3 losses for La La Land.  Does that mean anything?

6:37:  Vince Vaughn gets the task of explaining the Governors Awards, no longer given out on the main show.  Vaughn doesn’t seem especially comfortable.  In other uncomfortable news, Mel Gibson seems to be having a great time.

6:40:  Supporting Actress.  Anyone other than Viola Davis would be the biggest upset of the night.

6:41:  A standing ovation for Viola Davis.

6:48:  …and the speech of the night, at least so far.

6:50:  We now enter the long desert of Oscar night, probably an hour away from the next big award.

6:51:  The Marc Forster Walmart ad is post-apocalyptic Wall-E-ish.  Nothing that encourages shopping at Walmart.

6:55:  Not unrelated, it’s schtick time, as a bus tour is going to be surprised by entering the Oscars auditorium, and we’re going to have a parade of stars talking about their favorite stars/movies, with Charlize Theron talking about Shirley MacLaine just before they completely coincidentally give out an award together.

6:58:  The Salesman deserved its Foreign Film win, but there’s no question that it was helped by the current administration.  Farhadi’s statement in acceptance was as eloquent as one would expect.

7:09:  Well, Pixar was going to win something.  Left out of Animated Feature, it took Short, helped by the fact that tons of Academy members saw it attached in theaters to Finding Dory.

7:12:  A Disney animation sweep, as Zootopia deservedly takes feature.

7:15:  La La Land gets on the board with Production Design.

7:19:  Did anyone on the Academy/Kimmel team think about how patronizing this bus thing is?

7:30:  The subtitled package on foreign love for films is another reason winners are being played off.

7:31:  Despite Visual Effects being given out by 2 stars of Rogue One, the award went as expected to Jungle Book, which was a non-stop special effect.

7:35:  The first genuine WTF award of the night is Film Editing to Hacksaw Ridge.  It seems like Hollywood as forgiven Mel Gibson with a vengeance.  And La La Land has to be starting to sweat, just a little.

7:45:  The White Helmets gives an Oscar to Netflix, and the winners’ political statement is humanitarian rather than angry.

7:48:  Against several nominees with political points of view, Sing wins Live Action Short.

7:52:  John Cho and Leslie Mann are doing what they can with the Technical Awards recap.

7:59:  The La La Land crew gets back on track with Cinematography, but the feeling of inevitability may have passed.  The cutaways to Damien Chazelle in the audience are surprisingly intense.

8:01:  The Oscars continue their attempt to become Jimmy Kimmel Live with a Mean Tweets bit.

8:06:  Mean Tweets indeed as Twitter goes after the La La Land musical numbers.

8:14:  Honestly, haven’t we all had enough of the Jimmy Kimmel vs. Matt Damon fakery?

8:17:  La La Land takes both music awards, “City of Stars” winning Song, all as expected.  We’ve reached the promised land of the Big Six awards.

8:20:  Well, almost–time for the In Memorium.  It was apparently too late to change the montage to include Bill Paxton, so Jennifer Aniston mentions him in the intro.  Who will be left out entirely and earn internet fury?

8:24:  The montage ended with Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, and it’s hard to see who could quarrel with that.

8:28:  OK, having Kimmel do a salute piece on Damon in the style of the others is pretty funny.  Hope Cameron Crowe gets the joke.

8:31:  Manchester By the Sea won’t go home empty-handed, as Kenneth Lonergan takes Original Script.  (The fact that producer Matt Damon was a presenter provided a broad hint.)  A loss for La La Land, but not an unexpected one.

8:34:  Moonlight wins Adapted Script.  The question is whether these Screenplay awards will be consolation prizes or the beginning of something else.  Barry Jenkins’ speech is also the most politically pointed of the night.

8:37:  After dropping more snacks from the ceiling, Kimmel promises “no more fooling around after this, I promise.”  Is that legally enforceable?

8:42:  Damien Chazelle takes the Oscar for Directing, which probably means Picture… but you never know.  A well-delivered, heartfelt speech.

8:46:  A bit of a surprise that they’re giving out Actor (a tight race) before Actress (a seemingly sure thing), but thta may be a function of having Brie Larson go on before Leonardo DiCaprio.  Hollywood likes to keep people in their place.

8:51:   Even though Casey Affleck had been the favorite for months, his win is something of a surprise, due to Denzel’s SAG win and the general personal backlash that hit Affleck.  It was the performance of the year, and that’s what the Oscars are supposed to be about.

8:58:  Even the people who despise La La Land are mostly OK with Emma Stone winning.

9:03:  It wasn’t really a great movie year for Warren Beatty, but OK.

9:09:  Note to awards presenters:  it’s genuinely not cute to draw out the reading of the winner.  Not even a little.

9:13:  Well, this was the most insane thing ever to happen at an Academy Awards.

9:14:  The fact that Moonlight won at all (it did, right?) is already a shock, but the way it did…  Just unbelievable.

Well, a mostly dull, hacky Oscars ended up making history.  Let the recriminations and multiple backlashes begin.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."