Honestly, one of the biggest surprises of Oscar Sunday (besides, you know, the whole misidentifying the Best Picture winner and turning the whole thing upside down incident of 2017) was how superbly Jimmy Kimmel performed.
His role as emcee was equal parts charming, absurd, and nicely barbed (but never mean spirited). By the time he had to come on stage to correct that Best Picture bungle, it was clear that he wasn't just a great host but one of the greatest hosts in recent memory. He was awesome. So it's hard to whittle down his finest moments into a handily digestible list, especially because you could really feeling him guide the entire telecast. Kimmel wasn't someone who just popped up every now and again, which has been a problem with many recent hosts, he really made the experience his own and he did a tremendous job in doing so. Really, this was as impressive a feat as "Moonlight" besting odds-on favorite "La La Land" for Best Picture.
1. Opening MonologueInstead of a pre-taped bit a la Billy Crystal, or something more abstract, the show actually opened with a musical number by Justin Timberlake which doubled as a Best Original Song performance (I know it's hard to remember but that song was actually from "Trolls"). So Kimmel came out right afterwards, and traded some nice zings with Timberlake (saying that after that performance the rest of *NSYNC would be wise to let him back into the band). As he went around the room, he took aim at some of the more famous faces (loved him asking Mel Gibson if the Scientology was working out) but in a good-natured and sweet way. And the entire thing felt like it had just the right amount of political undertones. It never overwhelmed the humor and he never stopped dead in his tracks to make some kind of grandiose statement, but it was always present and much appreciated, particularly when he applauded Andrew Garfield's extreme weight loss in "Silence" and then said that it was something that has been attempted by "every actress in any movie ever." Well-done sir.
2. That O.J. JokeAfter "O.J.: Made in America," a blistering, epic documentary that looked at O.J. Simpson and his numerous crimes through a prism of American race relations and Los Angeles politics, won the Best Documentary Feature prize, the show cut to Kimmel wandering one of the aisles. Then he made an O.J. joke so good that Mel Gibson cringed. "I didn't think we'd be doing this in 2017 either," Kimmel explained.
3. It's Raining Treats (Hallelujah)One of the more goofy and surreal touches of the night was when Kimmel repeatedly triggered parachuting movie treats to rain down from the ceiling of the theater. They looked like little infantrymen coming down and delivering Milk Duds to Hollywood's brightest stars, stars who presumably a.) don't eat candy and b.) haven't gone to an actual movie theater in decades. We kept waiting for him to figure out a way to deliver In-N-Out burgers to seated guests via some kind of airborne delivery system but sadly that moment never came.
4. The Matt Damon Feud ContinuesOne of the funniest bits of Kimmel's show is his faux feud with big time movie star (and multiple nominee, thanks to his role producing "Manchester by the Sea") Matt Damon. And it was obviously going to carry over to the show, especially after Kimmel had been promising something on social media. But instead of a single, awkward segment, Damon and Kimmel bickered throughout the entire night. Kimmel made fun of "The Great Wall," Damon tripped Kimmel as he was walking down the aisle, the orchestra played Damon off while he was presenting an award, and, in possibly the greatest comedy moment of the night, during a pre-taped "inspiration" segment, Kimmel lauded Damon's performance in one of his least applauded efforts, "We Bought a Zoo." It added comedic texture and a kind of jovial warmth to the evening's proceedings and was also super weird. In other words: totally lovable.
5. The Tour BusAnother amazing idea that it's sort of impossible to believe hasn't been done before involved Kimmel rerouting one of those star-seeking tour buses to stop at the auditorium so that the tourists could get out and be surprised by walking in on an Oscar ceremony. It could have been a total disaster, but thanks to Kimmel, it worked really well. There was the moment when a newly engaged couple was "married" by Denzel Washington, lots of awkward hugging, and some generous manhandling of Mahershala Ali's shiny gold statue. (Kimmel also made sure to have them steer clear of "that jerk" sitting behind Casey Affleck aka Matt Damon.) It was, like most of Kimmel's duties, joyous but never safe; it just made you feel warm and fuzzy without making you also feel bad about it.
6. Mean TweetsIt was a given that there would be a special Oscar-version of Mean Tweets, the popular segment from Kimmel's late night show where he has celebrities reading missives from their harshest critics. But what wasn't immediately clear was just how funny it'd be; both the tweets that were chosen and the actors and actresses' delivery of those lines. It also gave Natalie Portman, who didn't attend the ceremony, the chance to make an appearance, which was much appreciated and really very cute.