The 90th Academy Awards turned out to be an exciting evening of firsts, as the great and good of Hollywood came out to celebrate 12 glorious months of cinema. Here's what went down.
The Shape of Water
Many bookies slashed the odds of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri winning Best Picture. However, it was Guillermo del Toro's sumptuous fantasy-romance The Shape of Water that walked away with the top prize, the ultimate celebration of outsiderness and love amidst a turbulent climate both in Tinseltown and elsewhere.
Del Toro walked away with Best Director, and now forms a trio of Mexican winners alongside The Revenant's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron. Not just an award for a beautiful film that criss-crosses love, comedy, terror and a nostalgic love of classic cinema, the Oscar also recognises a critically lauded artist who, until now, has arguably never been given his due.
The filmmaker's pointed acceptance speech accounted for cinema's ability to break down boundaries and bring people together. Del Toro's win was among several of the evening's most progressive and exciting – a sign that the Academy are listening to #MeToo and other movements?
Elsewhere, the movie also scooped Best Original Screenplay (shared between del Toro and Game of Thrones' Vanessa Taylor), perhaps the biggest surprise given that many were tipping the rich wit of Three Billboards to scoop that particular prize. Alexandre Desplat won Best Original Score for his alluring, swirling soundtrack (his second win, after The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Paul D. Austerberry walked away with Best Production Design.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
It perhaps didn't perform as well as expected, but Martin McDonagh's jet-black comedy drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri made it count in several key categories.
The show was stolen by Best Actress winner Frances McDormand whose magnanimous acceptance speech, compelling all the women in the room to stand, summed up both the power inherent in her performance and the cultural shifts that have engulfed Hollywood in the last few months.
Like Guillermo del Toro, this was surely an Oscar awarded as much for career legacy as for individual merit. McDormand has long been heralded as one of cinema's finest character actors, and with a sufficient gap between Three Billboards and her previous win (for 1996's Fargo), the Oscar was hers for the taking.
Still, if we're talking about people receiving long-overdue recognition, then we have to address Sam Rockwell, winner of Best Supporting Actor. Rockwell has been lauded for his scene-stealing turns going back to the likes of Galaxy Quest and The Green Mile, but rarely hogs the spotlight owing to his relative lack of leading man roles.
His superb performance as a racist small town cop on the road to redemption sums up everything we love about his acting, namely his formidable capacity to convey compassion, revulsion and humour all at the same time.
It triumphed at the Independent Spirit Awards but questions were raised as to Get Out's possible Oscar success. Jordan Peele's comedy-horror sensation was one of 2017's biggest talking points, blending satire and audience-pleasing entertainment in a manner that clearly spoke to a global audience, but would the Oscars lap it up?
Fortunately, they did: Peele's razor-sharp mixture of liberal-skewing laughs, chilling menace and racially-fuelled topicality saw it awarded with the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Not only is it wonderful to see the film being recognised, Peele now becomes the first African-American filmmaker in that category.
Just as the film is something of a cultural watershed moment, its Oscar win is similarly a line in the sand: the moment where the Academy Awards maybe, just maybe, prove themselves willing to move the conversation forward.
Talking of actors who've been neglected in the past… Yes, there was definitely a theme to this year's Oscars. Britain's finest Gary Oldman finally, finally clinched that coveted Best Actor prize for his transformative turn as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.
For someone whose chameleonic versatility has coursed through groundbreaking British cinema (Prick Up Your Ears), Quentin Tarantino-scripted black comedy (True Romance) and contemporary superhero blockbusters (The Dark Knight), it's shocking to note Oldman has only ever been nominated once before. (That was for 2011's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.)
If any of the evening's awards were based on career achievement it was Oldman's – he was the true favourite, in spite of the strong competition in the form of Daniel Day-Lewis, Timothee Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya. Plus, his moving acceptance speech thanking his mum and saluting the importance of a cup of tea would, we like to think, have appealed to Churchill's essential Britishness. This was the year that one of the industry's true greats was finally recognised by his peers – history in the making.
Blade Runner 2049
This was also the year in which 14-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins scooped the trophy that had been eluding him for so long.
A regular of the Coen brothers whose work also includes The Shawshank Redemption, Skyfall and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Deakins is regarded by many as the finest director of photography in the business. He was the clear favourite to win this year's Best Cinematography prize, and few could argue with his extraordinary work on Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049.
Engulfing audiences in a palpably physically world of steam, fog, geometric disarray and burnished amber light, Deakins' photography is nothing less than a work of art.
The other winners
In unsurprising but equally pleasing news, Allison Janney walked away with Best Supporting Actress for I, Tonya. The veteran stage and screen performer's vitriolic performance as abusive mother LaVona Golden had already swept up Golden Globes and BAFTAs, so the Oscar was already in the bag.
History was also made when Call Me By Your Name screenwriter James Ivory (who rocked up in an awesome Timothee Chalamet-flavoured t-shirt) became the oldest person to win Best Adapted Screenplay.
And Pixar's Coco landed Best Animated Film (plus Best Original Song), joining the likes of Up, Toy Story 3, Brave and Inside Out. In conjunction with del Toro's win, this truly was an evening where Mexico and Mexican-flavoured cinema reigned triumphant.
In keeping with its run at both the Globes and BAFTAs, there was little to show for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk in the major categories. The intense World War II drama becomes the latest Nolan movie to lose out in the Best Picture and Best Director fields, although editor Lee Smith's win was among the evening's hardest fought. And let's face it, which other nominee, besides possibly Blade Runner 2049, was going to win for its immersive Sound and Sound Mixing?
As already mentioned, the lack of a Best Original Screenplay win for Three Billboards is notable, particularly for a movie whose impact relies so heavily on its language and character interaction. (It is of course countered by the fact that Frances McDormand won Best Actress over The Shape of Water's Sally Hawkins.)
Greta Gerwig's delightful directorial debut Lady Bird was likewise shut out in all major categories, including its Actress/Supporting Actress duo of Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. And there was little to show for Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread. Even so, for a film based around a high society couturist, Mark Bridges' win for Best Costume Design was perhaps inevitable, it was enormously deserved.
What did you make of the Oscars results? Did you correctly predict any of the winners? Let us know @Cineworld.