Few will be talking about the many, many political speeches at Sunday’s Oscars.
Instead, it’ll be the best picture that wasn’t.
In what appeared to be an envelope error, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced front-runner “La La Land” as the winner of the best picture Oscar.
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Apparently, that was a mistake; “Moonlight” was the true winner.
“This is not a joke,” “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz said, holding up the correct card. “ ‘Moonlight’ has won best picture.”
Host Jimmy Kimmel came back onstage to help sort things out, joking, “Warren, what did you do?!”
Beatty explained onstage that when he opened the envelope, he paused because the card inside read, “Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’ ”
“That’s why I looked at Faye,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
Beatty said he showed the card to Dunaway, who chided him for taking so long. She then read the title out loud, “La La Land.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that as the “La La Land” cast was taking the stage to celebrate, a stagehand in the wings said, “Oh ... Oh my God, he got the wrong envelope.”
The Times reported, “In an odd twist, the best picture presenter, Warren Beatty, refused to show anyone the (incorrect) card before showing it directly to ‘Moonlight’ writer/director Barry Jenkins. ‘Everybody was asking and he was like ‘No, Barry Jenkins has to see the card; I need him to know.’”
Jenkins told the Times: “I will say that the folks from ‘La La Land’ were so gracious. I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that. I wasn’t speechless because we won. I was speechless because it was so gracious of them to do that. The card said: ‘Best Picture: Moonlight.’”
For each category, there are two cards waiting in the wings, one on each side, as explained in a 2016 Los Angeles Times story by Valli Herman:
“In an undisclosed location, the partners tabulate votes and stuff two sets of winning envelopes, partly as another security measure and also to aid the show's flow. Stationed with their signature briefcases on opposite sides of the stage, either (PricewaterhouseCoopers partners, Brian) Cullinan or (Martha) Ruiz can dispense envelopes to presenters. At the end of the evening, each accountant will have given out about half of the envelopes.”
Kimmel joked he knew he would mess up the show.
“Just remember it’s just an awards show,” Kimmel said. “We hate to see people disappointed, but the good news is we got to see some extra speeches. … I promise I’ll never come back.”
The flub is the latest in a string of notorious live broadcast mistakes. Adele restarted her George Michael cover and a mic went out on Metallica at the Grammys earlier this month on CBS. Sound issues also plagued Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance on ABC (the singer’s management actually blamed the network, saying it wanted a “viral moment”). And then there’s Steve Harvey, who wrongly awarded Miss Colombia the Miss Universe tiara in 2015 (Miss Philippines was the real winner).
Around 2 a.m., PricewaterhouseCoopers released the following statement: “We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”
Naturally, Twitter had plenty to say about the Oscar goof.
Otherwise, how’d Jimmy do?
Kimmel started the Oscars broadcast Sunday by acknowledging that he felt some pressure to be the guy to unite our politically divided country.
“Let’s get something straight off the top: I can’t do that,” he said, to laughter. The host then pointed out controversial “Hacksaw Ridge” director nominee Mel Gibson and said: “There’s only one ‘Braveheart’ in this audience, and he’s not going to unite us either.”
Nobody really wanted him to play peacemaker between the so-called Hollywood elites and the rest of America anyway.
After years of hosting ABC’s Oscars after-party, the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host finally got his shot at hosting the real deal and handled the gig just fine. While the Trump administration was his most frequent target, he may have taken just as many swings at his longtime faux arch-enemy, Matt Damon.
“I’ve never been to the Oscars before,” Kimmel said. “And the way you people go through hosts it’s probably my last time here.”
Even though a bit that involved a group of tourists went on just a shade too long, and he had his own David Letterman moment by poking fun at Mahershala Ali’s name, Kimmel handled the gig — and the best picture flub — well enough to deserve another shot next year. But the ratings will deliver the true verdict later in the week.
Some of Kimmel’s best zingers:
▪ In reference to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy: “Maybe this is not a popular thing to say, but I want to thank President Trump. Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?”
▪ “It has been an amazing year for movies. Black people saved NASA (‘Hidden Figures’) and white people saved jazz (‘La La Land’).”
▪ “This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us.”
▪ He asked the “overrated” Meryl Streep to stand for the audience, which gave her a standing ovation. Kimmel said to the best actress nominee, “Nice dress, by the way. Is that an Ivanka?”
▪ Kimmel also alluded to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s banning of some reporters from a briefing on Friday, saying that reporters from CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others needed to leave.
“We have no tolerance for fake news,” he said.
▪ He said about audience members, “some of you will get to come up onstage here and give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 a.m. bowel movement.”
Kimmel’s Ellen DeGeneres moment came about midway through the broadcast when he led a Hollywood tour of reg’lar folks through the audience.
The tourists took photos of celebrities and touched Mahershala Ali’s Oscar. Kimmel recruited Denzel Washington to stand and take photos with a couple who said they were getting married later in the year. Washington went ahead and pronounced the couple husband and wife, and Kimmel asked Jennifer Aniston to give the couple a wedding gift. The “Friends” actress produced a pair of aviator sunglasses for the happy couple.
No longer ‘Hidden’
She said only “thank you,” but it was one of the more moving moments of the ceremony.
Katherine Johnson, 98, the former NASA mathematician played by Taraji P. Henson in “Hidden Figures,” was brought onstage in a wheelchair to thunderous applause. She was introduced by Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer, who all star in the film as female black mathematicians who helped put NASA ahead in the space race against the Soviet Union. “Hidden Figures” was nominated for best picture.
Original song: ‘City of Stars’
Teachers and moms received their due from the best song winners on Sunday.
Justin Paul, Benj Pasek and Justin Hurwitz won for “City of Stars” from “La La Land.”
“I was educated in public schools, where arts and culture were valued and recognized and resourced,” he said. “And I’m so grateful for all my teachers, who taught so much and gave so much to us.”
Pasek took the opportunity to thank his mom.
“She let me quit the JCC soccer league to be in a school musical,” he said. “So this is dedicated to all the kids who sing in the rain, and all the moms who let them.”
Animated films: ‘Zootopia’ and ‘Piper’
Disney’s “Zootopia” won the animated picture Oscar. It’s the latest award for what the Mouse House considers a renaissance in its animation division.
“Zootopia” tells the story of an earnest rabbit who is the first of her kind to become a police officer in a city in which predators and prey live together in a sometimes fragile peace.
“We got this crazy idea of talking about humanity with talking animals in the hopes that when the film came out, it would make the world just a slightly better place,” said producer Byron Howard.
Backstage, Howard added that using animals prevented audiences from pre-judging the characters.
“Aesop knew this hundreds of years ago, and it was something that animation is very uniquely equipped to do,” Howard said. “We were surprised by how timely the film became as the world sort of blew up.”
Co-director Rich Moore said he’s grateful to audiences for embracing a “story of tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other.”
“Zootopia” was widely considered the front-runner in the animation category, taking home six trophies at the Annie Awards and snagging a Golden Globe. The film raked in more than $1 billion at the box office.
Documentary: ‘O.J.: Made in America’
Ezra Edelman’s “O.J.: Made in America” took best documentary, making it — at 467 minutes — the longest Oscar winner ever, beating out the 1969 best foreign language film winner “War and Peace” (431 minutes).
Edelman’s documentary, while it received an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release, was seen by most on ESPN as a serial, prompting some to claim its place was at the Emmys, not the Oscars.
Edelman dedicated the award to the victims of the famous crime, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
“I want to thank the academy for acknowledging this untraditional film,” he said. “I want to thank ESPN for allowing us the canvas and the time to tell this story. This is the only way it could be told. But I want to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if not for two people who aren’t here with us: Ron Goldman, Nicole Brown. This is for them and their families. It is also for others. The victims of police violence, police brutality, racially motivated violence and criminal injustice. This is their story as well as Ron and Nicole’s. I am honored to accept this award on all of their behalf.”
Foreign language film: ‘The Salesman’
Iran’s “The Salesman” is the second win in the category for writer/director Asghar Farhadi, who previously won for 2011’s “A Separation.” He boycotted the Oscars in protest of the travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration.
In a statement read on his behalf, Farhadi wrote that filmmakers create empathy between others and that is more needed today than ever.
“My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.,” he wrote. “Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear.”
“The Salesman” is a thriller about a married couple’s attempts to find peace and justice in Tehran after the wife is attacked in her apartment.
A streak ends
Kevin O’Connell finally has reason to celebrate at the Oscars.
The sound recording engineer snapped an 0 for 20 skid, winning for sound mixing on “Hacksaw Ridge” with his 21st nomination.
O’Connell owned the record for most nominations without a win.
After waiting so long, a giddy O’Connell had the presence of mind to acknowledge his wife and two sons in the audience. He also thanked director Mel Gibson.
O’Connell mentioned his late mother, Skippy O’Connell, who gave him his first job in sound 39 years ago. He asked her how he could thank her. She told him to work hard, someday win an Oscar and thank her from the stage in front of the world.
He did just that.
“Mom, I know you’re looking down on me tonight,” O’Connell said. “So thank you.”
He was previously nominated for such high-profile movies as “Top Gun,” “A Few Good Men,” “Twister,” “Spider-Man” and “Transformers.”
Going for the gold
Hollywood actors in general may not agree with Trump’s politics, but they sported a lot of his favorite color Sunday at the Academy Awards.
Best actress winner Emma Stone, Jessica Biel, Dakota Johnson, Robin Roberts and several others wore gold and its variations on the red carpet.
Many others sported blue ribbons in support of the American Civil Liberties Union, including best actress nominee Ruth Negga and best original song nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Miranda brought his mother to the Oscars, and she also prominently displayed the ribbon. The ACLU is among the groups suing over a travel ban imposed by Trump’s administration that has been placed on hold by federal courts.
Director Barry Jenkins said he planned to wear one and realized in the middle of a red carpet interview that he had lost it.
A small group of Trump supporters rallied Sunday in Hollywood in advance of the Academy Awards, according to The Associated Press.
The group held its demonstration not far from the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars ceremony was to be held.
About a dozen protesters carried signs, Trump banners and American flags, chanting such slogans as, “Celebrities don’t speak for us” and “Hollywood, don’t divide us.”
The protest was called by the San Fernando Valley for Trump Celebration group, which said it believed “Hollywood elites” were trying to divide America.
Emily Hemingway, 19, and her boyfriend David Feiner, 24, joined the crowd of about a dozen outside the Hollywood/Vine station.
“Everyone likes to worship these celebrities as if they’re some sort of deities,” Feiner said.
“We just want to show that just because a celebrity thinks a certain way and because they might express their views on a large platform, that does not reflect the views of all of America,” Hemingway added. “That reflects the views of that individual person. I feel like celebrities are trying to kind of speak for us and we want to speak for us. That’s why we’re out here.”
Supporting actress: Viola Davis
Viola Davis won best supporting actress for “Fences,” becoming the first African-American to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony.
She noted that the people with the greatest potential are those who are buried in cemeteries.
“People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?” she said in her acceptance speech. “And I say exhume those bodies, exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. … We are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. Here’s to (playwright) August Wilson, who exhumed and exhalted the ordinary people.”
Supporting actor: Mahershala Ali
Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor for “Moonlight.”
“I want to thank my teachers, my professors, I had so many wonderful teachers,” he said.
“One thing that they consistently told me … is that it wasn’t about you. It’s not about you. It’s about these characters. You’re in service to these stories and these characters. I’m so blessed to have had this opportunity. It’s about Juan, it’s about Chiron, it’s about Paula,” he said, mentioning the main characters of “Moonlight.”
He went on to thank director Barry Jenkins, his manager and cast and his wife, who gave birth to their daughter four days before the ceremony.
“I want to thank her for being such a soldier through this process,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story