The annual Academy Awards extravaganza is not the Super Bowl. But with a rapt, trend-conscious audience and 30-second spots reportedly going for $2.8 million-plus, it’s a glittery runner-up as a showcase for products, services and issues. Last night was no exception.
“Several advertisers offered cinematic spots that went beyond the usual fare, while others used it for unveilings,” recounts Daniel Victor for The New York Times. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is slated to open in 2019, showed its first commercial (a faux spot for the Overlook Hotel of 'The Shining' fame). Netflix teased the final season of “House of Cards,” and ABC used the occasion to release the trailer for its “Roseanne” revival.
Meanwhile, Walmart featured the work of three women — Dee Rees, Nancy Meyers and Melissa McCarthy — in one-minute spots featuring its blue shipping boxes. Rees’ effort got the most acclaim.
“Rees, who co-wrote and directed Mudbound, nominated for four awards Sunday night, dreamed up a sci-fi concept in which a young woman is fighting a blob-like monster while an evil commander, played by Best Supporting Actor nominee Mary J. Blige, gives orders. Directed by Best Cinematography nominee Rachel Morrison, the ad’s two action stars turn out to be, in fact, little girls playing make-believe inside a blue Walmart box, and the monster — warning that bedtime is close — is their mother,” writes Time’s Eliza Berman.
“The ad’s sweetness and clever premise weren’t the only things winning over audiences. It also put young black girls at the center of a sci-fi narrative, where they’re rarely situated (with the exception of "A Wrinkle in Time," which opens next week). What’s more, it also casually depicts a black lesbian couple, at home with their kids in an everyday domestic scene — a sight rarely depicted onscreen, especially in front of an audience of millions.”