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Kimmel, Vedder, Janney, Peele, Nanjiani supply Oscar highlights

Every time I watch Jimmy Kimmel, I wonder why more Western New Yorkers don't watch his ABC late-night program.

Kimmel was the best thing about Sunday's 3 hour, 48 minute Academy Awards program, highlighted by his monologue joke about the Oscar statue being an ideal male.

Like Oscar and his hands, Kimmel keeps his jokes where they belong. His jokes have bite, but not too much bite as to turn many people off.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much else to applaud in what was a predictable and predictably long program.

"The Shape of Water," Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Gary Oldman all won, just as every film critic in America thought they would.

It was a night without many memorable speeches even though a "Today" graphic this morning called it a "politically-charged" event.

Politically charged?

Sure, there were some strong political moments, but nothing to bend too many people out of shape.

Instead of promising one winner a jet ski for the shortest speech, Kimmel should have promised one to anyone who gave an emotionally-charged speech.

McDormand's decision to ask all female nominees to stand up and show they were available for future employment jobs was a nice touch, but Kimmel went a little too far in saying it deserved an Emmy. I actually expected more from her speech.

I also expected more from Oldman, who won for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in "The Darkest Hour." I wasn't expecting a Churchill-like speech, but something more than a rambling one in which Oldman ended by thanking his 99-year-old mother.

I was almost as bored for the first three hours as I was for the first 30 minutes of "Phantom Thread." At that point, I actually was rooting for someone to go over the top just to wake me up from the boredom.

It was more than two hours in before Tiffany Haddish and Maya Randolph brought some life into the program as humorous presenters and Common woke me up with a rap with political overtones.

Many local viewers didn't wait for the big finish. The Oscars had a 14.4 rating on WKBW-TV, the local ABC affiliate, down about 10 percent from the 16.0 rating a year ago. The final 45 minutes measured averaged a 11.1 rating.

Now on to some more highlights and lowlights:

Best Opening: Loved the newsreel-like black and white opening of old film interspersed with present day stars and the sarcastic narration. It was low-tech but effective.

Best Quotes: Guillermo del Toro showed he is a lover of Hollywood history by quoting a famous Jimmy Cagney speech after being named best director and Steven Spielberg after "The Shape of Water" was named best picture. I really enjoyed "Shape" but the ads didn’t do it justice and scared people away. Maybe they will see it now.

Best Clips: All of them. The snippets of films during the 90 years of the Oscars were also a show highlight. I have seen almost all of the films, which made me feel as old as Oldman's mother.

Best Song: Eddie Vedder performed a beautiful version of Tom Petty's "Room at the Top" for the In Memoriam segment honoring all those in the academy who died in the last year. You couldn't find a better man to do it.

Best Performance: Keala Settle's performance of "This Is Me" from "The Greatest Showman" was so energetic that you couldn't see how it could lose in the original song category. But it did – to "Remember Me" from "Coco."

Best Speech: I'm giving it to Jordan Peele, who won for best original screenplay for "Get Out." Even if it was a few seconds longer than the winning speech by costumer designer Mark Bridges, I would have given Peele the jet ski.

Worst Timing: Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek, three accusers of Harvey Weinstein, gave an important speech dealing with the Time's Up movement about two and half hours in. But it should have been on earlier. The show had been so boring up to that point that many viewers might have headed to bed before they were on.

Best Audience Move: Kimmel asked celebrities to go with him to a nearby theater to surprise people watching a Disney movie with treats. The show had become so boring at that point that if I had been at the Oscar hall, I would have done anything to get out of there for a few minutes, too.

Best Comic Timing: Allison Janney, winner of best supporting actress for "I, Tonya," exhibited the great comic timing she does weekly on "Mom" by deadpanning: "I did it all by myself." She added that was "nothing further from the truth" and thanked several people, including Joanne Woodward.

Janney is a graduate of Kenyon College, where Woodward’s husband — some guy named Paul Newman — graduated. So did Nick Bakay, one of the showrunners of “Mom.”

Best Father: After winning as best supporting actor for "Three Billboards," Sam Rockwell told a story about how his father pretended his grandmother was sick so he could take him out of school and go to the movies.

Best Presenter: Eva Marie Saint was an early highlight. I could almost hear my father say  “there is only one Eva Marie Saint.” I still remember her in “Exodus.”

Preshow Report: Like some celebrities, I ignored Ryan Seacrest, too. But I avoid E! and Seacrest every year at the Oscars.

Best Filmed Line: It was from Pakistani-American Kumail Nanjiani of "The Big Sick" in a filmed segment that dealt with the trailblazers introduced by Judd, Hayek and Sciorra: "Some of my favorite movies are made by straight white dudes about straight white dudes," he said. "And now you can watch me in a movie and relate to it. It's not that hard. I did it." Nanjiani should host some awards show someday.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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