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‘The Shape of Water’ highlights Canada’s night at the Oscars

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 5th, 2018

Toronto producer J. Miles Dale won the best picture award at Sunday’s Academy Awards but almost missed out on delivering his very first Oscar speech.

Dale shared the Oscar with “The Shape of Water” director Guillermo del Toro but found his microphone was cut off when it was his turn to say a few words.

But he was saved by host Jimmy Kimmel, who went up to Dale and asked: “What did you want to say? I’ll tell them.”

Dale was able to briefly salute del Toro’s work on the film, saying: “this is his heart and it’s everything.”

This is the first Oscar win for Dale, who also worked with del Toro on the 2013 film “Mama” and the horror drama series “The Strain.”

The two are now working on new projects, including a film for Fox Searchlight and a Netflix series.

Dale got his start as a producer largely in the TV world, with credits including “RoboCop” and “F/X: The Series.” He then focused largely on films, with other titles including “Pontypool,” “Love Happens,” “The Vow” and 2013’s “Carrie.”

Earlier in the night, Toronto’s growth into a film and TV production powerhouse was touted by a trio of Canadians as they won an Oscar for best production design on “The Shape of Water.”

Canadians Paul Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin and Shane Vieau shared the trophy for crafting the look of the Cold War-era merman romance.

Austerberry is credited for production design while Melvin and Vieau did the set decoration.

Speaking to reporters backstage, Vieau noted that Toronto’s screen community had a huge year not only with the leading 13 Oscar nominations for “The Shape of Water,” but also the accolades for TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was shot in the city.

“Toronto (was) above and beyond with everyone in North America with ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Shape of Water,’ we really came out on top,” Vieau said. “It’s a really big thing.”

Melvin said after decades of growth, Toronto’s TV and film industries are truly “world-class.”

“I have 35 years in the business now and worked in Toronto almost exclusively, so I’ve worked with and watched the business grow in Toronto and go from children’s television to Academy Award-winning films,” said Melvin, who is based in Toronto.

“It started with ‘Good Will Hunting,’ ‘Chicago,’ now us…. We want to keep it that way and keep going.”

As they accepted their trophies onstage, the trio thanked their colleagues back home in Toronto.

“Thanks to all the Canadian crew who are partying right now at the Palais Royale in Toronto – this is for you,” said Austerberry, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“Thank you to the academy. Guillermo – may you keep dreaming up your monsters and their wonderful stories so people like us can help shape their worlds.”

It was the first Oscar nomination for the trio, who also won in the same category at the recent British Academy Film Awards.

Besides del Toro and the film’s cinematographer, most of the crew who worked on the movie was Canadian.

Meanwhile, the winners of the best visual effects award for working on Quebec director Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” thanked their “friends in Montreal,” saying: “Merci beaucoup, this is for you.”

“Thank you to Denis Villeneuve, whose guts are seen in every frame of this film, especially the visual effects,” said John Nelson, who won alongside Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover.

Villeneuve also got a shout-out onstage from Roger Deakins as he accepted the Oscar for best cinematography on “Blade Runner 2049.”

Jordan Peele won for his script to his horror sensation “Get Out,” becoming the first African-American to win for best original screenplay. Peele said he stopped writing it “20 times,” skeptical that it would ever get made.

“But I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone would let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it,” said Peele. “So I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie.”

In a year lacking a clear front-runner the awards were spread around. Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk” landed three awards, all for its technical craft: editing, sound editing and sound design.

Things went expected in the acting categories, where Frances McDormand won her second Oscar for her performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” McDormand asked all the attending female nominees stand up in the theatre.

“Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects that need financing,” declared McDormand. “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen, Inclusion Rider.”

Three widely admired veteran actors won their first Oscars. Gary Oldman won for his Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) took best supporting actress, and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards”) won best supporting actor. Oldman thanked his “99-years young” mother. “Put the kettle on,” he told her. “I’m bringing Oscar home.”

But many of the show’s most powerful moments came in between the awards. Ashley Judd, Anabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek – who all made allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein – together assembled for a mid-show segment dedicated to the #MeToo movement that has followed the downfall of Weinstein, long an Oscar heavyweight. They were met by a standing ovation.

“We work together to make sure the next 90 years empower these limitless possibilities of equality, diversity, inclusion and intersectionality,” said Judd. “That’s what this year has promised us.”

Host Jimmy Kimmel opened with a monologue that mixed Weinstein punchlines with earnest comments about reforming gender equality in Hollywood. And of course, Kimmel – returning to the scene of the flub – dove straight into material about last year’s infamous best-picture mix-up.

“I do want to mention, this year, when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away,” said Kimmel. “Give us a minute.”

But while Kimmel spent a few moments on the fiasco known as Envelopegate, he expended far more minutes frankly and soberly discussing the parade of sexual harassment allegations in the wake of the revelations regarding Weinstein. Kimmel cited the industry’s poor record for female directors and equal pay.

“We can’t let bad behaviour slide anymore,” said Kimmel. “The world is watching us.”

Gesturing to a giant statue on the stage, he praised Oscar, himself for keeping “his hands where you can see them” and for having “no penis at all.” But Kimmel introduced the broadcast as “a night for positivity,” and cited, among other things, the box-office success of “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman.”

“I remember a time when the major studios didn’t believe a woman or a minority could open a superhero movie – and the reason I remember that time is because it was March of last year,” said Kimmel.

Several cinema legends won their first Oscar. James Ivory, 89, won best adapted screenplay for his script to the coming-of-age drama “Call Me By Your Name,” becoming the oldest winner ever. After 14 nominations, revered cinematographer Roger Deakins finally won for his photography on “Blade Runner 2049.” In the category, Rachel Morrison (“Mudbound”) became the first woman nominated for best cinematography.

Later, Pixar’s colorful ode to Mexican culture “Coco” won best animated film as well as best song for “Remember Me.” Best foreign language film went to Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman,” Sebastian Lelio’s drama starring transgender actress Daniela Vega.

“The biggest thank you of all to the people of Mexico,” said director Lee Unkrich to loud applause. “Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”

Netflix scored its first feature-film Oscar, with best documentary going to “Icarus,” Bryan Fogel’s investigation into doping in sports, aided by the assistance of Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory who candidly discussed the doping scheme under Vladimir Putin. Fogel dedicated the award to Rodchenkov, “our fearless whistleblower who now lives in grave danger.”

“Darkest Hour” won for best makeup. The period romance “Phantom Thread” won for costume design.

The ceremony was the crescendo of one of Hollywood’s most turbulent awards seasons ever – one that saw cascading allegations of sexual harassment topple movie moguls, upended Oscar campaigns and new movements launched to improve gender equality throughout the industry.

No Golden Globes-style fashion protest was held by organizers of Time’s Up, the initiative begun by several hundred prominent women in entertainment to combat sexual harassment. Their goals go beyond red carpets, organizers said in the lead-up to the Oscars. “We did the dress code thing and now we’re doing the work,” said #MeToo founder Tarana Burke on the red carpet.

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