The Oscars 2017: Moonlight in La La Land

Well, that really happened.

In a moment that would easily put Steve Harvey – the man who flubbed up the Miss Universe winner announcement last year – to shame, Bonny and Clyde duo Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty read out the wrong envelope (Emma Stone’s Best Actress envelope) to announce La La Land as the night’s Best Picture Winner. Nobody was surprised when the name was announced. 

The producers and team came on stage and began giving their gracious thank yous. Suddenly, a lot of activity seemed to be happening in the background of what should generally be a flawlessly happy occasion. Beatty seemed to look like a poor confused grandfather who seemed to have hurt his grandkid by mistake. The show producers began running around behind on the stage, and finally, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz – who the world will now appreciate as a dignified, generous professional – took over and pointed over to the Moonlight team saying, “We didn’t win. Moonlight won Best Picture. They’re the real winners. This is not a joke!” 

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Most of the many million viewers thought this was one team being gracious and willing to ‘share’ their prize with a more deserving winner that night. But it wasn’t so. Apparently, Moonlight had actually won Best Picture, and Horowitz went on to invite them on stage, saying it was a ‘privilege’ to be handing it over to them instead. Everyone was shocked. And that is perhaps the biggest understatement in a year that is very used to being shocked every second day by their leaders.

When Beatty explained that he was hesitating to read the envelope because it didn’t read right (“And not because I was being funny!”), the world’s gaze fell on Dunaway, who had excitedly announced the winner without bothering to double-check. But it really wasn’t their fault – for they seemed to have picked up the envelope that perhaps Leonardo DiCaprio seemed to have carried off-stage after handing over the trophy to Emma Stone moments ago. All kinds of social media memes and theories burst into play, as expected, and this will be the most talked-about Oscars in decades – thanks to an inspired moment of idiocy that only the biggest show on the planet could have pulled off in the midst of an administration whose President hates them. 

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Nevertheless, favorite La La Land won seven Oscars out of the 14 categories in which they were nominated, including Best Director and Best Actress. Moonlight won Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture – arguably the more important awards. Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge shared the sound awards, while Hacksaw Ridge went on to win Best Editing too for its realistic war-field portrayal. 

A brief analysis of the upsets of a night that felt fairly predictable till the end:

Best Documentary

Winner: O.J. Made In America 

Favorite: 13th 

Best Animated Feature

Winner: Zootopia (because its comical animal world is a figurative take on segregation, racism and equality)

Favorite: My Life As A Zucchini 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Winner: Suicide Squad (That’s right – believe it)

Favorite: Anyone but Suicide Squad

Best Foreign Film

Winner: The Salesman (because of the outpour following director Asghar Farhadi’s boycott of the Oscars after Trump’s immigration bans)

Favorite: Toni Erdmann

Best Actress (Lead role)

Winner: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Favorite: Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and Natalie Portman (Jackie)

 

There is no begrudging the winner of the main award of the night – Best Picture. Moonlight was perhaps more deserving (and culturally relevant) than awards darling La La Land, and given the strong political statements integrated into the decisions by the Academy (as well as their comeback from the #OscarsSoWhite last year), Moonlight was actually favored to win as the night went on. 

However, here are a few other years in which this gaffe would have been better suited for the Best Picture category:

2014

Winner: Birdman

If Steve Harvey was the presenter, hand it over to: Boyhood

2013

Winner: 12 Years A Slave

If Faye Dunaway was the presenter, hand it over to: Gravity

2011

Winner: The Artist

If Warren Beatty was the presenter, hand it over to: Moneyball

2010

Winner: The King’s Speech

If Leo had presented the Best Actress Oscar, hand it over to: The Social Network

2009

Winner: The Hurt Locker

If the Oscar producers flooded the stage quicker, hand it over to: Avatar

2006

Winner: The Departed

If the presenters were a little more alert, hand it over to: Babel

2005

Winner: Crash

If the producers were as gracious as the La La Land guys, hand it over to: Brokeback Mountain

1998

Winner: Shakespeare In Love

If this were a deferred Filmfare Awards telecast with enough time to edit out the gaffe, hand it over to: Saving Private Ryan

1994

WinnerForrest Gump

If there were a popular and critics choice category, hand it over to: The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction

1990

Winner: Dances With Wolves

Just hand it over to: Goodfellas

1982

Winner: Gandhi

If the Oscars weren’t obsessed with period British dramas, hand it over to: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

1981

Winner: Chariots of Fire

If the Oscars weren’t obsessed with the British in general, hand it over to: Raiders of the Lost Ark

1980

Winner: Ordinary People

If Scorsese had been respected better by the Academy so that he didn’t win for The Departed later, hand it over to: Raging Bull

1979

Winner: Kramer vs. Kramer

In the same year as: Apocalypse Now

1976

Winner: Rocky

If the winner wasn’t an award motivated by popular choice and box-office performance, hand it over to: Taxi Driver

1971

Winner: The French Connection

Seriously, in the same year as: A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof

1965

Winner: The Sound of Music

If this musical hadn’t won and pissed off the more ‘serious’ audiences, La La Land may have won it today, so hand it over to: Doctor Zhivago

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