‘La La Land’…I mean ‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture

Climactic moment ruined by monumental blunder

Warren Beatty on stage after Moonlight, the correct Best Picture winner was announced and the cast called to the stage. (Photo: Aaron Poole / A.M.P.A.S.)


The Academy Awards ended on a sour note when Faye Dunaway announced that favorite La La Land had won the Oscar for Best Picture. Trouble is, she and co-presenter Warren Beatty had been handed the wrong envelope.

So, while La La’s producers were taking turns delivering heartfelt acceptance speeches, they were abruptly interrupted so that the audience could be informed that Moonlight was the real winner. Immediately, that film’s cast and crew took to the stage while the suddenly deflated La La entourage quietly exited via the wings.

Emcee Jimmy Kimmel confronted Beatty with “What did you do?” But the epic flub wasn’t Beatty’s or Dunaway’s fault, since the card inside the envelope was actually for Best Lead Actress and read “Emma Stone — La La Land.”

Besides Best Picture, Moonlight landed awards for Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Adapted Screenplay. La La can take some consolation in the fact that it nabbed the most honors overall, six, including Best Director (Damien Chazell), Score and Song (“City of Stars”).

Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney pose backstage with the Oscar for Adapted screenplay, for work on Moonlight during the live ABC Telecast of the 89th Oscars on Sunday, February 26, 2016. (Photo credit: Jeff Lipsky / ©A.M.P.A.S.)


Otherwise, Hollywood’s biggest night represented a remarkable reversal of its recent lily-White preferences, picking the predominantly-Black cast Moonlight as Best Picture, along with African Americans Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress for Fences),  Ali (Moonlight), Barry Jenkins (Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight) and Ezra Edelman (director of O.J.: Made in America).

Mahershala Ali, Casey Affleck, Emma Stone and Viola Davis backstage during the live ABC Telecast of the 89th Oscars at  on Sunday, February 26, 2016. Photo credit: Jeff Lipsky / ©A.M.P.A.S.


Edelman, the son of legendary children’s rights attorney Marian Wright Edelman, dedicated his victory to Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson as well as to victims of police brutality. His wasn’t the only politicized acceptance speech, with many recipients hurling thinly veiled barbs at President Donald Trump.

The most virulent attack on the president came from Iranian Ashgar Farhadi, writer and director of Best Foreign Film-winner The Salesman. He boycotted the festivities, but had a spokesman read a statement excoriating Trump for issuing an executive order temporarily banning travelers from his  and a half-dozen other Muslim countries.

Presenters Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Katherine Johnson (who Henson played in Hidden Figures) onstage the 89th Oscars at the on Sunday, February 26, 2017. )


Kimmel took a lot of indirect potshots at the president, too, like when he asked Meryl Streep whether her gown was from the Ivanka Trump fashion line. When the O.J. Simpson doc won, he quipped, ” O.J., you can get an extra slice of baloney on your sandwich tonight.” Kimmel was very smooth delivering his funny but never mean-spirited jokes, so don’t be surprised if he’s asked to host again next year, especially given that the Oscars air on ABC, the same network as his late night show.

To see the full list of Oscar winners, visit www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2017.


Kam Williams welcomes reader comments to kam_williams@hotmail.com.