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Oscars TV Review: Jimmy Kimmel Packs A Punch On Trump & More As ABC & Producers Finally Make An Academy Awards For The 21st Century

Looks like fourth time is truly a charm for Jimmy Kimmel and the Academy Awards.

Back hosting the Oscars for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall, the ABC Late Night front man took a show where most of the big winners were pretty predictable and gave it some much needed bite. “See kids, sometimes smoking is fine,” Kimmel quipped after Da’Vine Joy Randolph won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her cigarette imbibing role in The Holdovers.

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Sometimes kids, it’s worth packing a punch — as the Academy Awards proved Sunday.

RELATED: Robert Downey Jr. Thanks “Terrible Childhood And The Academy — In That Order” As He Takes Supporting Actor Oscar For ‘Oppenheimer’

Bringing the great David Alan Grier in as the voice of God and picking up on what the Grammys and many other award shows have been put down for in recent months, the Raj Kapoor, Katy Mullan and Molly McNearney executive produced Oscars joined the 21st century this year.

Thank the movie gods, even if the show was almost three hours and 30 minutes long.

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Thank the movie gods because for the first time in too long and after more than few false starts, the Oscars didn’t just celebrate movies tonight, it celebrated putting on a show about celebrating movies.

Hollywood’s biggest night was made for the small screen this year with movies that people have actually seen on stage. At the same time, Guns’n’Roses’ Slash showing up to add his stadium sized guitar licks to Ryan Gosling’s star studded, pyrotechnics packed and delightfully over the top Barbie performance of “I’m Just Ken” showed American Idol and The Voice just how it’s meant to be done.

Maybe we didn’t know that John Mulaney was going to use presenting the Best Sound award as a platform to audition to be the 2025 host, but we all knew Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer was going to clean up. Which is what the atom bomb creator saga did with wins for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Cillian Murphy and Best Supporting Actor for Robert Downey Jr, among others.

If we’re honest, we expected The Holdovers’ Randolph and a song from Barbie (in this case the Billie Eilish tune “What Was I Made For?”) to win, as they did. In an awards season that became too close to call in the Best Actress category it was a toss-up between Poor Things’ Emma Stone and Killers of the Flower Moon‘s Lily Gladstone — with the win going to the former, like it did in 2017 for La La Land.

As with almost all the Academy Award ceremonies of modern times, they could have picked up the pace and melded together a few more categories and presenters. Having five past winners introduce the nominees in the major categories could have easily become a tedious gimmick, as it was in the past. It could have, but instead the concept worked out much better than expected this time. Having said that, wasn’t the smoothest move to bring up the get-off-the stage music when Sean Ono Lennon was getting the crowd to chant “Happy Birthday Yoko” to his iconic 91-year-old mother.

RELATED: Cillian Murphy Dedicates ‘Oppenheimer’ Best Actor Oscar To “Peacemakers Everywhere”

For reasons that had a lot more to do with capitalism and ad rates than protesters on the streets delaying a few stars, the earlier than usual Oscars began about five minutes after its 4 pm PT start time. Thanking attendees for “making it on time” on this first full day of Daylight Savings, Kimmel warned viewers at home and those in the Dolby that “it’s going to be a long night after what was a long year.”

In a world that truly seems on fire, Hollywood’s months and months of strikes and shutdowns, falling studio stock prices, and the trickle of production starting up so far made the year seem very long.

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Which is why if you are going to pack a punch, make sure it’s a TKO.

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Kimmel’s on-stage salute right near the beginning of the show to the bitter strikes of last year and below the line workers poked the studios in the eye while simultaneously piercing “union town” Hollywood’s pretentiousness was just such a blow. Barely heard over the standing ovation the crowd was giving the crew, Kimmel’s remarks that those who went on strike in 2023 would be there for IATSE, the Teamsters and other Hollywood crafts in their negotiations with the studios and a labor action of their own was a very public f*ck you to the corporate overlords.

RELATED: Da’Vine Joy Randolph Thanks All Of the Beautiful People Who Taught Her To ‘Just Be Myself’ After Oscar Win

Thankfully, it was not all so serious.

It was no surprise that Robert Downey Jr won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his Oppenheimer role, it’s a been a juggernaut all award season. What was a surprise is that after all those other wins leading up to the Academy Awards, Tinseltown’s perpetual prodigal son had the killer line of “I’d like to thank my terrible childhood and the Academy, in that order” to start off his gratitude packed acceptance speech.

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Thankfully, there were more than a few startling moments tonight, as there should be at all awards show. Kimmel pulling out his phone to mock Donald Trump for calling him the “worst host” on social media was up there. Ending the former Celebrity Apprentice host’s post with “blah, blah, blah, Make America Great Again,” the host adding that he was shocked Trump was watching “past his jail time” was the kind of finely tuned punch that the thinned skinned ex-POTUS doesn’t take well.

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Trump swipes aside, there weren’t a lot of geopolitics on the Oscars on Sunday considering the global situation. Taking a big picture stance, it was a very poignant touch by the Academy and Oscars producers to begin the In Memoriam segment with a clip of Alexei Navalny from the 2023 Oscar nominated documentary about the now deceased Russian opposition leader. Too bad, the rest of the segment was once again hobbled by oversights and almost immediate regrets.

For zero regrets, just look at John Cena in his birthday suit.

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Just look and listen as hearts rose up to the Osage Tribal Singers and Dancers performing Scott George’s Oscar nominated song from Killers of the Flower Moon on a sunset drenched stage.

The powerful speech from 20 Days in Mariupol director Mstyslav Chernov mourning Russian’s invasion of his country while winning the first Oscar ever for a Ukrainian film with his documentary.

That “Ken-splaining” put-down from Oppenheimer’s Emily Blunt to her Fall Guy co-star and Barbie boy Ryan Gosling.

That’s how you sell a show.

That’s how you celebrate a song and a culture.

That’s how you shame a superpower.

That’s how you squash a rivalry, and land a zinger.

The very buff Cena was ironically right, “the male body is not a joke.” True, but damn it was hilarious and genius watching the nude and mock reluctant Peacemaker star hand out the Costume Design award while commemorating the infamous streaker who crashed the 1974 Oscars.

For God’s sake, a Godzilla movie won an Oscar tonight! A really good Godzilla movie, though it would have been polite to provide a translator for the overwhelmed Godzilla Minus One team.

The Oscars hasn’t been much fun or much of a coherent show for over a decade. In a fairly predictable year, the 2024 Oscars were something else …as Michael Keaton gestured from his seat when Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger lamented how their villain roles were beaten by Batman in the movies: “Come and get it!

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