Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Play By Play of That Best Picture Accident

It's a moment that nobody can forget. At the end of this year's Oscars ceremony, it looked like La La Land won Best Picture. With everyone doing the ritual speeches, a commotion formed behind them. As a producer ran forward, he announced that there had been a mistake. The film that everyone predicted to have won didn't win at all. In fact, it was Moonlight. Not only was it the moment of the evening, but it was the moment that recap coverage has loved to focus on. So, what exactly did happen? To the best of my ability, I have pieced together the story based on interviews that have come out in the days since, hopefully painting a full picture of the most eventful 10 minutes of Oscar history to happen this century - or at least since Crash won Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain.

The plan was simple. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were going to present Best Picture. With it being the 50th anniversary of Bonnie & Clyde, it only made sense that Hollywood royalty would fill the position. First Beatty was taking too long to announce the winner as he looked longingly at the envelope. As Dunaway laughed at him, he handed the card to her, which she read immediately as what it said: "La La Land."

This is how it happened:

The answers appear to be there. Beatty got the wrong card. As those who have analyzed the video suggest, his card read "Best Actress," which was a few categories prior. Adding to the controversy is the fact that the man in charge of handing out the envelopes also ran the Twitter account for the ceremony. At this time, he had posted a picture of Emma Stone winning the award. It is believed that since he momentarily handed the card to someone after this moment that he gave it to the wrong person.

Except, Emma Stone had the card according to this exchange:

It's about as clear cut as things get. But, how could two people have the same card? The answer was simple. There was a duplicate that the company Pricewaterhouse Coopers had printed. The company would go on to take credit for the error in an open letter. Now that this has been answered, how did everything else go? Well, Dunaway went on record and admitted that she "f**ked up." In fact, she was quickly absent following the moment where the La La Land producer announced the mistake. Even Beatty had the humbleness to admit his error and that he wasn't trying to be funny. It should be noted that in spite of this soul-crushing error, the La La Land team took it with class and dignity, even admitting that they'd be willing to give the award to Moonlight.

As Stone puts it, there was a "gaze of confusion" that followed. This clearly meant that the Moonlight portion of the Best Picture speeches didn't go according to plan. The film's director Barry Jenkins admitted this and went on to publish what he would've said:

"Tarell [Alvin McCraney] and I are Chiron. We are that boy. And when you watch Moonlight, you don't assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award. I've said that a lot, and what I've had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. Not you, not anyone else — me.
"And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and, somehow through the Academy's grace, realizing dreams you never allowed yourself to have. Much love."
 It's a brief but inspiring speech full of grand sentiment worthy of Moonlight's surprise win. There's a lot of questioning as to whether this moment would've been as eventful had the mistake not happened. Still, I think that Moonlight winning Best Picture is a very big deal. It's a great moment that hopefully reflects a shift in Oscar mentality in years to come. For now, it is a moment that will go down in the annals of history as being a great surprise both literally and figuratively.

Still, if there's one other perspective worthy of hearing, it's host Jimmy Kimmel's (who also did a good job), who reported on the incident from his late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! the following evening, giving further detail in a firsthand account of what was happening and how the show was going to initially end:

Yes, even Kimmel was trying not to burst out laughing at how awkward the moment was. Still, it's a moment that will continue to be dissected and maybe go down as one of the greatest Oscar moments in history. Who knows at this point, as the event is not even a week old yet. Still, it's important to note that even the people in the room were likely as surprised as you were. While I don't consider this piece to be a complete account of what is being called "Envelope-Gate," I do think it gives insight into one of the strangest and most exciting moments that the Oscars have had in years.

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