Oscars 2018 Review: Event Producers Give 90th Ceremony an A-

Event producers from across the U.S. and Canada discussed what they liked and disliked about the 90th Academy Awards.


Jon Retsky
“What a relief to be done with art deco, steampunk, and old Hollywood glam. Last night’s 90th Oscars offered a solid, sharp, refreshing, elegant, classy, and immaculately produced design. That’s a lot of adjectives, but it’s well deserved. The stunning, sparkling, crystal-covered stage and proscenium grounded the evening in operatic luxury without being gaudy or overproduced. Each segment offered a new look and feel, but the entirety of the show never felt disjointed or overly thematic and cliched. Even the giant crystal Oscar statues looked stunning. When the show wasn’t being upstaged by Mark Hamill’s beard or Jodi Foster’s crutches, it offered a dynamic and layered design, bringing together lighting, video, and scenic in a way that nearly fooled the eye … in a good way. There were many moments where it was difficult to discern what was scenic and what was video.  

Frankly, I enjoyed the fact that even I was tricked and couldn’t make the distinction at times. The mirrored video panels stole the design in my book. These modular shifting LED screens danced and weaved perfectly in and out of segments, immediately transporting the audience from Baroque to the 1920s with seemingly no effort. Ornate touches, such as the ever so versatile and illuminated industrial spokes, brought variety to the design without seeming foreign or out of place. From a content standpoint, I was relieved that I didn’t feel preached to and that this wasn’t an overly politically charged evening. To me, it felt like a much needed three-plus-hour escape from my addiction to CNN. 

Aside from the somewhat unnecessary field trip to the theater next door, I thought Jimmy Kimmel delivered a refined, fun, and excellent awards show, delivering just the right amount of sass to Price Waterhouse for their flop last year. Extra bonus points for the stunning show-stopping performance of ‘This Is Me’ performed—in stark contrast to the rest of the scenic design—on a perfectly-lit bare stage. This year, the design was the clear winner. It celebrated light, the movement of light, and radiant reflection. The end result? A night of infinite dazzle and sparkle.”

Letter Grade: A
Retsky is co-founder and lead lighting designer at Got Light, a San Francisco-based event design and production company. Clients include the San Francisco Museum of Art, Twitter, Salesforce, the San Francisco Symphony, Dolby, Google, and Facebook.

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