Guillermo del Toro paid tribute to Mexico, to immigrants and to the borderless "world of filmmakers" as he accepted Oscars for best director and best picture Sunday night.
A crystal stage, clips of classic films and appearances by veteran stars projected a nostalgic glow, but the ceremony crackled with contemporary politics and social activism related to sexual misconduct and immigration rights.
She finished her speech saying: "I have two words to say: inclusion rider", a reference to a little known contract clause that lets actors demand diversity on both sides of the camera.
Call Me by Your Name was the choice for best adapted screenplay, making James Ivory, at 89, not only a first-time victor, but also the oldest-ever victor of a competitive Oscar.
Bankrolled by the Beijing-based company, "Darkest Hour" and "Phantom Thread" won the Oscars for Best Actor ("Darkest Hour"), Best Makeup & Hairstyling ("Darkest Hour") and Best Costume Design ("Phantom Thread"). Dunkirk bagged three technical awards - best film editing and both best sound editing and sound mixing, marking only the 17th time that both sound prizes have gone to the same film. The movement's leaders had made a decision to stand down for the night, in contrast to the Golden Globes, whose attendees expressed solidarity by wearing black, but Hollywood's mood of reckoning still permeated proceedings. News presenter Ryan Seacrest because of sexual harassment accusations, which he denies. My home, my family and my Oscar, he said in the acceptance speech.
What's nice is that nearly all of Shape of Water's fellow best picture nominees also have something to show for their night. "This year, when you hear your name called, don't get up right away", he told the audience. And, fundamentally, it's a hopeful, optimistic, feel-good film, unlike many of this year's other nominees. "Give us a minute".
"I was a kid enamored with movies growing up in Mexico".
Last year's embarrassing envelope mix-up over the best picture victor was turned into a running joke, with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway returning for a second year to announce the top prize. Del Toro's friends and countrymen Alfonso Cuaron won for "Gravity" in 2013 and Alejandro Inarritu won back-to-back Oscars for "Birdman" in 2014 and "The Revenant" in 2015. The greatest thing our industry does is to erase lines in the sand.
"Don't talk to us about it at the parties tonight, invite us into your office, we'll tell you all about them".
The song "Remember Me" from the film "Coco" was selected as the "Best Original Song", which is penned and performed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Latino talent triumphed again when the Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman, starring trans actor Daniela Vega in the lead, won best foreign film.
Harvey Weinstein, an Oscar svengali, was nowhere in sight, banished from the Academy last October after multiple allegations of his predations triggered the #MeToo avalanche.
In the director category, he beat out Jordan Peele ("Get Out") who would have been the first African-American to win the award and Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird") who would have been the second woman in the Oscars 90 year history to win it.
"I did it all by myself", quipped Allison Janney, who won best supporting actress for playing Tonya Harding's snarling, chain-smoking mother in "I, Tonya", adding an Oscar to her seven Emmys (most for her work on the TV show "The West Wing"). Blade Runner 2049 won not only best cinematography for Deakins but also best visual effects (a blow to the War for the Planet of the Apes team, which, as with the prior two installments of the rebooted Apes trilogy, arrived at the Oscars having won the top Visual Effects Society Award, only to lose out on the big one).
Kimmel promised a jet ski to the victor who made the shortest speech, weaving in a quiz show vibe to balance the politics. His speech had clocked in at just over 30 seconds.