For exactly 2 minutes and 29 seconds La La Land was best picture.
That was the time between when Faye Dunaway read the wrong envelope until La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz corrected the mistake on live television, telling Barry Jenkins and the team from Moonlight they were in fact the winners.
Every year there are feelings of what “should have won.” Never before have we seen it played out so literally.
In fact, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway faked out the Oscars.org web team as well. This was posted for several minutes as they figured out what the heck just happened.
It’s hard to know where to begin with such a bizarre end to the night. Let me start with congratulating Moonlight on the best picture win. It wasn’t my pick but it was a very good film. I’d put it right behind La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.
It’s just such a crazy way for it to unfold.
This will be discussed and dissected for a long time. How did this happen? How COULD this happen?
Can you imagine the swing of emotions for the teams from both films?
But let’s not lose sight of all the things that happened before the wild finish.
There was a lot of emphasis on diversity and the Academy voters took that into consideration even more than usual. Not only was there cultural diversity among the winners but among the films as the Academy spread the Oscars around to several different movies.
Best picture nominees scorecard:
La La Land – 6
Moonlight – 3
Hacksaw Ridge – 2
Manchester by the Sea – 2
Fences – 1
Arrival – 1
I think the overwhelming desire for diversity played a part in Moonlight winning but I don’t say that to discount the win. Lots of things go into a voter’s criteria and this year they wanted the winners list to make a statement about diversity. If diversity gave Moonlight an edge with some Academy voters it wouldn’t have taken much to give it the win. It’s a fine film that has won plenty of other awards this year.
In some ways this reminds me of 1972 when the musical Cabaret won best director and best actress but The Godfather won best picture. Cabaret won 8 Oscars that night and The Godfather won three.
Last night the musical La La Land won 6 Oscars and Moonlight won three.
I’m not putting Moonlight on the same level as The Godfather but the similarities are interesting.
There was no shock in Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, Emma Stone or Damien Chazelle’s wins and the screenplays went as expected as well.
I was pleasantly surprised with the minor upset of Casey Affleck over Denzel Washington for best actor. I love Denzel but I really appreciated Casey’s subtle performance and apparently so did the Academy.
Just two notes on the broadcast:
- Jimmy Kimmel did a remarkable job hosting. I’m sure many people hated him because hosting the Oscars is one of the most polarizing jobs in the world, second only to President of the United States.
- Can Justin Timberlake please open every awards show from now until the end of eternity?