Best Oscars Show In A Decade Ruined by Monumental Screw-Up

MOONLIGHT – Chiron (Ashton Sanders) – Photo Courtesy of Elevation Pictures.

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The show was well-paced – even if it did run over a half-hour long – with some nifty surprises (Kimmel’s riff on providing food for the audience; bringing an unsuspecting busload of tourists into the theater and the resulting genial chaos) and even a mention of Bill Paxton, whose death yesterday made it impossible to include him in the In Memoriam montage (accompanied by Sarah Bareilles’ stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell’s Both sides Now).

Then the gaffe of all gaffes – presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announcing the wrong film as Best Picture! Even as the producers of La La Land were giving their heartfelt and touching acceptance speeches, one of them looked at the card with the title and interrupted proceedings to announce that there had been a mistake – Moonlight had actually won!

There was, of course, a bit of chaos following the announcement as the producers and cast of Moonlight took the stage – and the producers and cast of La La Land beat a hasty retreat – but both groups showed unequaled poise and generosity in the face of it all.

Stunned, Kimmel ad libbed a couple of quick one-liners (‘I blame Steve Harvey!’) before promising he’d never be back – even though it wasn’t his fault and he was the best Oscars® host we’ve had since Billy Crystal was at his peak.

Here is the complete list of winners with a few comments where I felt it necessary.

BEST PICTURE

MOONLIGHT

Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers

I would have been happy to see at least half of the nominees win here – it was a very strong year – but I couldn’t choose between Moonlight, La La Land and Hidden Figures.

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Emma Stone

La La Land

Any of the nominees in this category would have been the right choice. This was the toughest category by far. I would have picked Stone because she played a woman whose story echoes so many stars – an overnight success after many years of trying – and she made Mia so strong, yet so vulnerable.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Casey Affleck

Manchester by the Sea

The only real competition for this category was Denzel Washington for Fences, but Manchester By the Sea was a film from the get go, while Fences felt like a filmed version of the actual play and I thought that Affleck gave a deeper, more nuanced performance.

 

DIRECTING

LA LA LAND

Damien Chazelle

Directing a musical is a unique challenge – you have to establish a believable world in which people break into singing and dancing as natural course of life – and Chazelle did that with a great deal of panache.

 

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

MOONLIGHT

Screenplay by Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Barry Jenkins, who is straight,  found a way to tell his story by making a film about a young, gay black boy who learns to appreciate who he is  and where he’s from – while aspiring to be true to he is.

 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Written by Kenneth Lonergan

Lonergan’s movie says it’s okay to be broken after a great tragedy, but even if you try to get past it, you might not be successful – and that’s okay. Human beings are vulnerable creatures.

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

MAHERSHALA ALI

Moonlight

Ali played a character we’d never seen before and made him as real as the guy sitting in the next cubicle at your office, or the random guy you meet sitting a bar. He also played a man who could be seen as a straight-up villain in another movie, but sees and nourishes that something special in a young boy in his neighborhood.

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

VIOLA DAVIS

Fences

Davis would have won if she’d been (properly) entered in Actress in a Leading Role. Her performance was just that powerful.

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

ZOOTOPIA

Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

I would have preferred to see Kubo and the Two Strings win, but Zootopia was a fun movie that said stuff without yeeling in your face, so that cool, too.

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

THE SALESMAN

Iran

Elle and/or Toni Erdmann were jobbed to make a point to the current administration – and director Asghar Farhadi’s speech by proxy pushed some serious buttons.

Is it wrong of me to not appreciate that two better films lost in the name politics?

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

LA LA LAND

Linus Sandgren

La La Land celebrates Hollywood, filmmaking, jazz and the city of Los Angeles – Sandgren’s cinematography making real L.A. and movie L.A. jell together and serves both th story and characters well.

Only Arrival’s equally mood-setting cinematography real offered a challenge.

 

FILM EDITING

HACKSAW RIDGE

John Gilbert

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

THE JUNGLE BOOK

Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon

With only one real actor onscreen, The Jungle Book marked a precipitous advance in the use of photo real CGI. My only choice would have been Dr. Strange – which explored other worlds than out own.

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

LA LA LAND

Production Design: David Wasco; Set Decoration: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Replicating the feel of the musicals from the forties and fifties – without simply replicating them – had to have been quite the challenge. This is the one category, though, where I might have thrown a bone to Passengers. Whatever it flaws (and they were many) production design was not one of them. It shoulf have won if only for the exterior and interior desing of that starship.

 

SOUND MIXING

HACKSAW RIDGE

Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace

 

SOUND EDITING

ARRIVAL

Sylvain Bellemare

 

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA

Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

 

COSTUME DESIGN

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Colleen Atwood

Atwood’s fourth win and well deserved. But now for the love of all that’s holy do you not nominate Rouge One?

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

SUICIDE SQUAD

Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson

One nomination; one win. Star Trek Beyond really should taken this one.

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

CITY OF STARS

from La La Land; Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Second best song in the movie – and the less relatable. As good as John Legend was at singing it, I still Ryan Golsing’s regular guy singing chops. Now they are relatable.

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

LA LA LAND

Justin Hurwitz

Moonlight could have won here and I wouldn’t have disappointed. That’ said, I’m glad La La Land won.

 

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

PIPER

Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

Piper wasn’t even one of Pixar’s best short films. Blind Vaysha should have won.

 

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

SING

Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy

 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

THE WHITE HELMETS

Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

THE WHITE HELMETS

Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara