Shocking Finale to Oscars Caps Off Wild Night at the Mayfair

Photos by Andre Gagne

There may not have been a red carpet, but there was a long line down the sidewalk for the Mayfair Theatre for their screening of the Academy Awards. The fashion was tasteful and understated… with the occasional tux mixed in.

For those who are unaware, the Mayfair is the place to watch the Awards. Free for members, it gives a chance for casual movie-goers and cinephiles alike to celebrate (and not-so-silently judge) Hollywood in all its glitzed-up grandiosity. There’s trivia, awards for best dressed and a fake acceptance speech competition.

It is all wonderful.

“It’s relaxed, it’s chill. People dress up and it’s great to watch the Awards with other people,” said one moviegoer during the pre-show.

Of those asked before the ceremony, every film was listed by at least someone in the crowd. Certainly, the last couple months of 2016 brought about some high-quality, high-appeal films, such as crowd-pleaser La La Land and inspirational true-stories Lion and Hidden Figures.

True, there’s some ever-present Oscar bait, but beloved Oscar bait nevertheless.

No doubt, the community enhanced every aspect of the ceremony. As the stars walked the red carpet, Mayfair-goers milled about, drinking champagne and eating pizza, the latter courtesy of Panago.

The crowd was high energy, applauding favorites – like Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali – and booing Mel Gibson at every opportunity.

The ceremony itself was among the longest in Oscar history. Starting off with a high energy start with Justin Timberlake performing his nominated song “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” MC Jimmy Kimmel took over, with it being his first time at the Academy Awards. His ability to host didn’t exactly translate well to the big stage. Though his long-term “rivalry” with Matt Damon brought an air of mischief to the Dolby Theatre, the majority of his performance felt phoned in. The para-snacks felt like a callback to Ellen’s performance, and the Mean Tweets: Oscar Edition bit added nothing but run-time to what was already a marathon of an affair. And, I mean, we’re all expecting a couple Trump jokes, but Jimmy, he’s the easiest punchline of 2017. Try harder.

Lee Demarbre, the MC of the Mayfair’s Oscar part was far less polished but far more energetic, taking swipes at Hacksaw Ridge and praising splattermaster Herschell Gordon Lewis.

I’ll give it to Kimmel, though: surprising a group of tourists by leading them into the Academy Awards was admittedly a good gimmick. At least, it would have been ten years ago before the existence of smartphones and selfie sticks. Can we really blame them though? They were tourists on a bus tour of L.A.. And if the internet hasn’t already fallen in love with that Gary by the time this article’s published, maybe I don’t know the interwebs as well as I thought I did.

Despite Kimmel’s constant reminders of the Orange Terror to our south, the acceptance speeches were not nearly as political as one would expect them to be. There were a few meaningful lines delivered from Mexican immigrants – namely Alessandro Bertolazzi – while Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the awards, wrote a powerful and relevant letter on behalf of all Middle Eastern immigrants. The Academy itself presented a subtle feature that highlighted cinema’s power to cross cultural and national borders.

In between the glitz of the dresses and Kimmel’s plodding shenanigans, the Academy did find some time to recognize cinema.

The ceremony was without much surprise… until the final moments of the ceremony, when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway squinted their eyes at the card naming the Academy’s choice for Best Picture, and incorrectly called out La La Land. Halfway through Fred Berger’s speech, he announced that La La Land had indeed lost, and Moonlight was indeed the real winner. Perhaps not the kind of surprise that was wanted, but it was easily the most shocking event of the night.

Speaking of unwanted surprises, how does the phrase “Academy Award-winning Film Suicide Squad” sound?

Love them or hate them, the Academy Awards are still the world’s most significant celebration of the wonderful world of cinema. Interviewing theatregoers before the ceremony, it was clear that despite the inability to always recognize world cinema or up-and-coming talent, it is still the best that is offered. The Mayfair’s Oscar screening recognizes what is maybe one of the most important aspects of film: community. During a commercial break, Demarbre noted that “no doubt the best thing about going to the movies is the communal experience.”

If this communal celebration of film doesn’t speak into the flawed charm of the Academy Awards, I don’t know what does.