Oscars Weekend Recap, or what the hell happened last night?

I spent some of the weekend in San Francisco (and most of it on the road between SF and Los Angeles), so this weekend recap will be dedicated exclusively to last night’s Oscars ceremony in all its revelry and confusion. But let’s be honest: that would have happened anyway.

What an ending. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of La La Land winning Best Picture, but I was expecting it. It was an odds on favorite to win the big award, so I wasn’t alone in that expectation. The producers gave their speeches—and chaos broke out on stage.

La La Land hadn’t won Best Picture. That honor went to Moonlight.

Producer Jordan Horowitz, in what must have been a heartbreaking moment, showed an abundance of class and love for his colleagues. He had already given his acceptance speech when everything broke down, and he took control of the situation when it became clear why. He personally called Moonlight‘s filmmakers onto the stage to transfer the award he temporarily thought was his to its rightful owners.

Moonlight, A24

As I’ve said before, Moonlight is a once in a lifetime film. It’s an LGBT story. It’s a film about black people that has nothing to do with slavery or the 1960s. That’s not to say there’s not a place for those subjects and characters, because there absolutely is, but it’s unlikely that everything will come together in the spectacular fashion of Moonlight ever again.

Barry Jenkins and the rest of the Moonlight cast and crew were gracious and humbled as they closed out the Oscars ceremony. They showed equal class toward the La La Land team shortly after they vacated the stage. Here’s to hoping the manner in which they received the award doesn’t overshadow the fact that they received it much longer.

Everybody involved in the closing moments handled the sweeping confusion tremendously. The aforementioned Horowitz, Jenkins, and the others on stage with them. Warren Beatty, who hopefully won’t be on the receiving end of more ridicule for a mistake that largely wasn’t his doing. Jimmy Kimmel, who tried to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

For deeper looks into what happened and what it was like in the room, check out these pieces from The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter.

Although the confusion of those final few moments overshadowed the rest of the show, there’s a lot worth talking about from the three and a half hours leading up to what was likely the biggest breakdown in Oscars history. I’ll do my best to keep these individual points brief:

  • First off, congratulations to all of this year’s winners at the Oscars. Top to bottom, everyone deserves the chance to sit back for a moment and bask in the victory and recognition. Then, please, get back to work on more movies.
  • Damien Chazelle became the youngest Best Director winner in Oscars history, doing so at 32. I may not have loved La La Land, but it’s a well earned win considering the sheer spectacle of it all. And you can be damn sure I’m going to see everything Chazelle makes.
  • Emma Stone won Best Actress and continued to be a shining example of humility and honesty. She’s incredibly talented, and it seems safe to assume she’ll be in contention for many more awards moving forward.
  • Casey Affleck took home the award for Best Actor for his role as Lee Chandler in Manchester By The Sea—but he did so amid many troubling reports of unsavory, predatory behavior toward many women with whom he’s worked. There’s a lot to unpack there regarding separating art from artists, but that’s another thought for another time. All the evidence points to a multi-layered conclusion: Affleck is not a good guy, but he is an immensely talented one. Regardless of opinion on the man involved, the role and the performance are clearly worthy of the Oscars win.
  • Kenneth Lonergan received a much deserved award for the absolutely brutal Manchester By The Sea screenplay. (Original)
  • Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney did the same for Moonlight, adapted from McCraney’s play.
  • Viola Davis surprised no one by winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences. She followed it up with an eloquent, emotional speech among the best of the night.
  • Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor in another sure thing. His role in Moonlight was the best part of a great film, so it makes sense.
  • Asghar Farhadi, from Iran, won Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman. His written statement of solidarity with Muslim nations and in opposition to closed-door nationalism rightfully received much applause. The statement made by his pointed absence from the Oscars ceremony was arguably even more powerful.
  • “City of Stars” from La La Land won Best Original Song. I just don’t get the love for it.
  • Justin Hurwitz also picked up the award for Best Original Score for La La Land, which is totally understandable.
  • Disney and Pixar picked up a few wins despite a total absence from the major categories:
    • Zootopia took home the honor of Best Animated Feature. I thought Moana was the better movie, but that’s a matter of excellent vs. excellent plus one.
    • Piper won Best Animated Short, and rightfully so. The film is cute and innocent, and it doesn’t hurt that it was easily seen by anyone who watched Finding Dory.
    • The Jungle Book won Best Visual Effects, which seemed like another no-brainer.
  • The almost universally hated Suicide Squad (which I haven’t even bothered to see) is now an Oscar winning film. So…
  • Spotlight won Best Picture last year. Moonlight won this year. What are the chances at least one movie changes its name to include “light” in hopes of chasing glory?
  • Lion‘s Sunny Pawar may have stolen most adorable kid at the Oscars from Jacob Tremblay.
  • Auli’i Cravalho nailed Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go” with an intro from songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda—even when she got hit in the head with a flag during the performance. Let’s not forget that she’s only 16 and she handled that like a seasoned pro.
  • Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting was adequate, though it largely felt like a bigger version of his show.
  • Gary from Chicago had the time of his life. And I think we all need to sit back and try to live life like Gary from Chicago every now and then.

Again, congratulations to all of this year’s winners, especially Barry Jenkins and everyone else involved in making Moonlight. Here’s to hoping next year’s ceremony includes just as many excellent films—and maybe a little less confusion.

 

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