Warren Beatty opened the envelope, took a long look at the card and passed it to Faye Dunaway, who said, “La La Land” into the microphone. The frontrunner’s producers, director and cast hugged, celebrating their seventh Oscar of the night, and made their way to the stage. The outcome was no surprise and kind of anti-climatic, as an upset would be the only thing that would make this night memorable. Instead, the Academy Awards followed the script. La La Land won big, but not historically big. Live-tweeting the event, I had my head down feverishly typing La La Land had won best picture. I also got another Tweet out about La La Land’s Oscar total for the evening…then it happened.
“There’s been a mistake,” La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz bellowed into the microphone.
My head sprung up as the rest of my body froze.
“Moonlight, you guys won best picture,” Horowitz said. And he called them onto the stage reassuring those who worked on the film that this was not a joke.
Horowitz even held up the winning card, which one of the cameras closed in on so we could all clearly see Moonlight won best picture. The classy Horowitz then waited on stage to hand his golden statue off to the approaching Moonlight crew.
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins took the mic, still in shock, but absolutely overjoyed.
“Even in my dreams this could not be true,” Jenkins said. “But to hell with dreams. I’m done with it, because this is true.”
It was unfortunately a poor choice of words (considering La La Land is about dreams), but Jenkins in no way meant to take a shot at La La Land. He in fact went on to give his love to La La Land.
Beatty and Dunaway don’t deserve blame. They were given the wrong envelope. Horowitz and host Jimmy Kimmel deserve a lot of credit, Horowitz for grabbing control of the situation and displaying great class in a time where he was probably devastated, and Kimmel for making jokes to try to ease the awkwardness.
How did this happen? Well, I think the more important question is did Moonlight deserve the upset victory? Continue reading