Oscars 2018: Jimmy Kimmel gets it done with jokes and a Jet Ski

90th Academy Awards – Show
Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Jimmy Kimmel’s Oscars do-over walked the fine line between serious and silly on Sunday – and hit most of the right notes on a night that celebrated the industry while acknowledging some of its flaws.

After a clever opening in the style of a black-and-white newsreel that used footage from Sunday’s red carpet and rapid-fire jokes – “If you loved Gary [Oldman] in Forest Gump, you’re thinking of Gary Sinise” – Kimmel took almost no time in getting to the first joke about last year’s best picture mix-up.

“This year, when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away,” he advised nominees. (Also getting a do-over this year were best picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.)

Nothing, of course, happens “right away” at the Academy Awards, whose most enduring tradition has been the length of time it takes to get from red carpet to best picture. This year’s show started at 8 p.m., a half-hour earlier than usual, but didn’t end until three hours, 49 minutes later, making the 90th Academy Awards considerably longer than any of the nominees for best picture.

Kimmel, after urging winners to say anything they liked, offered a prize for the shortest acceptance speech: a Jet Ski. Selling the joke: Helen Mirren, who appeared with the Jet Ski, game-show style. Later, he sweetened the pot by adding a trip to Arizona’s Lake Havasu. Costume designer Mark Bridges (The Phantom Thread) thus became the night’s final winner, taking home an Oscar and, presumably, a Jet Ski.

Maybe next year’s host could offer a prize for the shortest montage. Or skip a stunt or two. Kimmel’s most time-intensive audience-participation gimmick involved rounding up several stars – led by Jimmy Kimmel Live mascot Guillermo Rodriguez – to visit a nearby movie theater to personally thank members of the movie-going public with a selection of treats, including a “hotdog cannon.”

I’m not saying it wasn’t fun, but as a member of that public, can I just say that I’d rather hear a good acceptance speech?

Kimmel didn’t shy away from the  sexual-harassment scandals that fueled the Time’s Up movement, talking about the motion picture academy’s expulsion of producer Harvey Weinstein (“There were a lot of great nominees, but Harvey deserved it the most”) and noting the qualities that had made 90-year-old Oscar the most respected and beloved man in Hollywood: “He keeps his hands where you can see them, never says a rude word, and most importantly, no penis at all. He is literally a statue of limitations.”

As always, there were awards that the academy couldn’t squeeze into even a three-hour-plus show:

Classic Hollywood moment:  Eva Marie Saint, introducing the award for costume design, said, “I just realized something. I’m older than the Academy. … I’m very proud of that. Just keep moving.” The North by Northwest star, who’s 93 (and won the 1954 supporting actress Oscar for On the Waterfront), responded to a standing ovation by talking about her husband of  65 years [Jeffrey Hayden, who died in December 2016], with whom she’d long enjoyed the Academy Awards, and told a story that included a reference to “Fred Hitchcock.”

Ageless style: Presenter Rita Moreno, who at 86 showed up to hand out the foreign-language film Oscar wearing the dress she wore to receive her own 1962 Academy Award for West Side Story. The bodice  appeared to have been restyled to show even more skin. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Ageless style runner-up: Tiffany Haddish wore the same Alexander McQueen dress to present that she wore on Saturday Night Live, where she said she’d planned to get her money’s worth out of it. It’s still looking great.

Free throw: “As basketball players, we’re supposed to shut up and dribble,” noted Lower Merion High’s Kobe Bryant, accepting the Oscar for animated short with a not-so-veiled shot at Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who’d suggested that LeBron James do just that. “I’m glad we’re doing much more than that.”

Putting the Eh? in E!:  With E! correspondent  Kristin Dos Santos talking passionately with Giuliana Rancic about how few  directors are women – 4 percent – and the two discussing the Time’s Up movement, as we were shown footage of Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, two of the movement’s leaders, on the red carpet,  it felt as if the often-frivolous network were doing everything it could to distract us from who was (and wasn’t) talking with Ryan Seacrest.

Awkward cheerleading: Accusations against Seacrest by a former stylist may have been the poorly dressed elephant on the red carpet, but Seacrest, who has denied her allegations of sexual harassment, wasn’t universally shunned. Supporting actress nominee Mary J. Blige and Haddish, a presenter, both went out of their way to say nice things to Seacrest, Blige saying, “I love you on the show [Live With Kelly and Ryan], and Haddish telling him, “I’m so proud of you, too. I remember you when you first started.”

Pro-immigration pairing: Presenters Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), before announcing the winners for production design, noted they both are immigrants, she from Kenya, and he from “Pakistan and Iowa, two places that no one in Hollywood can find on a map” and spoke in support of Dreamers.

Best Meryl Streep joke: “She I, Tonya-ed me.”  Jodie Foster, who came out onstage on crutches, pretending to explain why to fellow presenter Jennifer Lawrence.

Shining moment in fake commercials: That brilliant fake ad for the newly renovated Overlook Hotel? Someone wanted to make sure you were paying attention.