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Backstage, first-time supporting actress Oscar winner Allison Janney for I Tonya shared her disbelief that this moment would come to light. “I didn’t dare to dream of things like this because I didn’t want to be disappointed. At a certain point, I had given up thinking this would happen for me because I wasn’t getting the kind of roles in films that would give me attention like this.” She gave a nod to the film’s screenwriter for creating the opportunity. “That’s what my really good friend Steven Rogers did for me. He said he wrote this for me to do just that. To show what I could do. I’ll never be able to repay him.” she said before an idea sparked. “I think I’ll get him a Rolex.”
Sam Rockwell dedicated his first Oscar win for best supporting actor for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, to his “old friend” and late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. “He was very close to me. He was an inspiration to all of my peers,” said Rockwell backstage, naming fellow actors like Jeffrey Wright, Liev Schreiber, and Josh Brolin. “Whoever was in my age range, Phil Hoffman was the guy. I can go on for an hour on Phil Hoffman. Philip Seymour Hoffman was a good friend and a huge inspiration to me.”
In an inflammatory Trump era that has railed against Mexico and drummed up the need for a wall with the country, Guillermo del Toro’s two Oscar wins tonight serve as a hammer to smash those biases down. Expounding on his message about art erasing lines in the sand backstage, the filmmaker said “I think every time we (Mexico) can demonstrate in any form, sports, science, art or culture; what we bring to the world discourse is extremely important. When we do it, it’s important to remember where we’re from and honoring your roots and your country.”
Respect goes both ways, north and south of the United States. And with Shape of Water shooting in Toronto, Canada This also extended to shooting up north in Canada. Producer J. Miles Dale said, “We talked seriously about creating this movie with the heads of department in Canada…I wasn’t just about using a rebate and escaping, but having the complacent creation there.” Del Toro mentioned that Shape of Water is in Baltimore as he was influenced by Barry Levinson’s Baltimore trilogy (Tin Men, Diner and Avalon). “We wanted to capture the flavor and intersection of the Catholic and the industrial.”
“It feels like it has a special significance. I can’t say what it will be like to win an Oscar in any other year but winning an Oscar for playing arguably one of the greatest Brits who ever lived… makes it doubly special,” said Gary Oldman backstage after winning the award for Best Actor. “And this film, this company of actors… it’s been an unforgettable experience and a highlight of my career.” On what sort of advise he thinks Winston Churchill would offer today’s world leaders. “My God he would give them a good talking to. He was a big believer that you looked at history to move forward…. we don’t teach history anymore.”
Kobe Bryant made a point to build himself into an NBA player, ultimately winning five championships for the Lakers, but an Oscar? “This is something out of left field,” said the Oscar winner tonight of his best animated short Dear Basketball which is a cartoon take of his poem of the same name. After stepping away from the sport, Bryant told those close to him that he wanted to pursue a career as a storyteller. Their response? “You’ll be depressed when your career is over.” But tonight “is a chance of validation,” said Bryant. An added bonus per the short’s director Glen Keane, “After the win, you don’t have to sit in a tub of ice.” Speaking about the differences in playing basketball and writing, Bryant said with the sport, “You have to dissociate your sense of ego” in order to succeed. But in writing, “You have to get into a deeper connection with yourself…you have to quiet the ego and begin all over again.” Next up for Bryant is a series of five novels he is writing.
“I can’t believe that this happened,” said Sebastian Lelio, director of Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, A Fantastic Woman. “I am really surprised, even though the film was a frontrunner, you are never really sure until you have it in your hand.” The film, which follows transgender singer Mariela (Daniela Vega, who is transgender in real life) and the discrimination she faces after the sudden death of her older boyfriend, not only tackles transgender issues, but also being a Latina transgender woman.”It is a film that managed to continue the necessary and urgent conversation,” said Lelio. “It’s been a long struggle to have (Chile) acknowledge the existence of transgender people. We are facing a new government that is conservative, and I hope this helps bring relevance to a matter that’s urgent.” He added, “A transgender person is not a “Class B” person. They are one of us.”
When asked if Hollywood is ready to give an award to a trans actor, Lelio said that awards should be given regardless of gender and that a “trans category” should never be added. Lelio said authentically casting Vega in the role as Mariela was essential. “The presence of Daniela added a quality to the story that a cisgender actor was not capable of bringing — I never thought that was going to be that important with how the film is perceived.” He points out that Vega, who transitioned 14 years ago, added a different dimension to the movie. But that doesn’t mean that someone like Daniela can’t interpret a cisgender role — because she identifies as a woman and that should be respected. “I am happy that became the artistic gesture of the movie,” he said. “If that keeps expanding the horizons of our thinking, that is welcomed.”
Kazuhiro Tsuji spoke backstage on being one of the only Asians nominated (and winning) tonight for best makeup/hairstyling for Darkest Hour. “I don’t want to think about how I’m Asian. I am doing what I love to do. As soon as we start to think what race we are, it doesn’t work that well,” said Tsuji. Darkest Hour’s David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick spoke on their working relationship with Gary Oldman (and a video of him dancing to James Brown in Churchill makeup, “I met Gary on a previous job — that is one of the the main reasons we got on so well, said Malinowsky. “Our personalities are very similar — we have a sense of humor and we joke a lot. Also, like me, he has an attention to detail and wants the best.” Added Sibbock, “He has so many characters in his body — and he does them so well.”
When you work with Guillermo del Toro, he already knows what he wants, production/design-wise. “He already had (Elisa and Giles’) apartment picked out,” said Paul D. Austerberry, who won his first Oscar tonight off his first nomination for best production design for The Shape of Water. In telling the story about a mute cleaning lady who falls for a sea creature that’s being held captive in an underground government bunker during the Cold War, Austerberry said it was important to have “a heavy contrast” between the “brutal architecture style” and “the concrete steel green color” of the army bunker with “the beautiful, decrepit old apartment she takes him back to.”
With Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges earns his second Oscar win after The Artist for best costumes, but his first for a Paul Thomas Anderson film. He was previously nominated for the director’s Inherent Vice. Bridges was allowed into Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis’ creative process very early on and was tasked with the challenge of dressing a method actor, plus his character’s muse, a waitress turned fashion house model. Working with Lewis made the job easier: His father and grandfather worked in the clothing industry and the actor knew that he wanted Reynolds Woodcock’s suits to come from Seville Row and German Street in London. “We went shopping together,” says Bridges about picking out clothes with Lewis. “He didn’t want to plan ahead with what he would wear. We created a closet for him as Paul wanted him to choose daily what he could pull from the closet and wear. It was a little nerve wracking and new on me, but we all trust each other so much at this point.”
Backstage, after picking up the Oscar for Original Score, Alexandre Desplat talked about his experience working with Guillermo de Toro on The Shape Of Water. “He brings everybody together behind him like a king with his knights. There is a magic about him that makes us all want to be at our best. For the music, we discussed a few things and very early on I could feel that everything was open…. Every moment of the trajectory of the composition that was submitted to him, he was always benevolent and enthusiastic. It was a marvelous experience.”
Frank Stiefel, who nabbed the Oscar for short subject documentary Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405, insisted on not being labeled as a documentarian. “I’m not a documentarian,” Stiefel said backstage. “This is my second film. As a life experience, to make your first film at the age of 63 and to be given an Academy Award at the age of 70 doesn’t qualify me as being a documentarian. It qualifies me as being an extraordinarily lucky and happy 70-year-old.”
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez won their second Oscar for best song for the heartwarming lullaby “Remember Me” from Pixar’s Coco. “We didn’t dare to dream that we would be nominated — and win again,” said Lopez. The win is extra special to Lopez, who dedicated the Oscar to his mother, who passed away in August. “She was the main force in my childhood who encouraged me to write music and go for my dreams.” Anderson-Lopez chimed in, “She told him if he didn’t practice eat the piano.” Lopez said, “This song is about leaving people you love. The song was written before she died and it wasn’t about her, but we sang it at her funeral.
Anderson Lopez remembers their first win with Frozen’s “Let It Go,” and said that in 2014 it rained in LA before the Oscars and it was during the Winter Olympics — just like 2018. “That is good luck for us,” she joked. She adds that making the Day of the Dead has now become a family tradition for them (the two are married). “It makes you feel connected to the people who came before you.” Lopez ends addressing a question on what their win will do for immigrants. “I always felt like ‘the other’ in this country.” He points out that being an example plays a huge role in helping others pursue their dreams. “I encourage every brown kid to pursue their dream, just like my mom did,” he said.
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