Well THAT was something else.
It’s pretty unfortunate. The La La Land crew had the red carpet pulled out from under them in front of millions. Moonlight didn’t receive the spotlight it rightly deserved. Warren Beatty was made to look like a presenter who had a few drinks too many. It wasn’t a good situation for anyone involved.
If you somehow haven’t yet heard, La La Land won best picture at the Oscars last night… until it didn’t. The cast and crew were called to the stage. Producers began their acceptance speeches, while men in headsets scurried about behind them. After much confusion and discussion, a La La Land producer announced that Moonlight had actually won the award.
Apparently Beatty, who presented the award with Faye Dunaway, received a duplicate of Emma Stone’s best actress card. After opening it, he stared at it for a few seconds. He looked at Dunaway, and then out to the crowd. At the time, I thought he was jokingly building suspense. Or was just drunk. Eventually Dunaway grabbed the card and declared the winner to be La La Land, as the film was listed there along with Stone’s name.
Beyond the shock value of it, this mishap was fascinating for a number of reasons. Following last year’s “#OscarsSoWhite” controversy, we saw a record number of black actors take home victories last night. Before his acceptance speech was interrupted and revoked, La La Land producer Fred Berger spoke about the future of film and the importance of diversity. Little did he know that his point was about to be demonstrated. Moonlight was praised for, among many other things, its portrayal of a gay black boy living in poverty. It’s a voice not often recognized in Hollywood, and it defeated a film that encapsulated many of the traits of a typical Oscar winner. This upset makes me hopeful that the Academy is headed in the right direction. The fact that it happened in such grand fashion at least helps drive home the diversity point even more.
As for La La Land, the mistake became comically ironic (Warning: plot spoiler ahead). The film’s final stretch features a daydream sequence in which both main characters envision a life together that never came to be. The Oscars played out in a similar fashion. La La Land had its fantasy ending, experiencing what could’ve been, only to find itself back in reality just moments later. Personally, La La Land was my favorite nominee. Briefly seeing it win was wonderful, but Moonlight is a remarkable film and a better pick for the Academy.
Besides, La La Land still took home six awards. Emma Stone won best actress and Damien Chazelle received best director. Composer Justin Hurwitz came away with two victories for best original score and original song. The film also grabbed best cinematography.
I was really happy with many of the other awards as well. Mahersala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar when he earned best supporting actor for his stellar performance in Moonlight.
Manchester by the Sea earned two victories. It deservedly won best original screenplay, while Casey Affleck was named best actor.
Viola Davis walked away with best supporting actress for her performance in Fences, a result that surprised no one. She basically had a lead role in that film, but was incredible nonetheless.
Arrival won best sound design, which was great to see. Although I’m annoyed Amy Adams did not receive a best actress nod.
And hey, Suicide Squad is now an Academy Award-winning film. It won best makeup. Killer Croc for the win!
For a full list of winners, check out this CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/26/entertainment/oscars-winners-2017/
For more on the unforgettable best picture mishap, take a look at the full transcript over at NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/movies/oscars-best-picture-transcript.html