It was the Super Bowl of Academy Awards shows: you had to watch to the very end.
La La Land had won best picture—Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway had announced it—and I was typing out a message about how the Oscars had been fairly boring. Here’s a dramatic recreation of that post:
I was just about to hit “Post” when something happened on the stage. One of the producers of La La Land was speaking, but the guy to his left started glancing off camera with a confused look on his face, and then some other people started looking too.
A guy in a headset came onstage and took the envelope from the producer who had already spoken. Headset guy looked at it and walked off with it. This was all happening directly behind producer number two, who was now giving his speech.
Here’s the moment, after the “mistake” envelope was taken away, when producer number one and producer number three locked eyes and knew something was up:
But things continued on, because nobody had told anybody to stop. As producer number three was giving his speech, the flurry of activity continued behind him. I think he could hear what they were saying because he interrupted his own speech to say “We lost by the way, but…you know…”
At which point the first producer came back to the mic to say that Moonlight had won. “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture.”
At that moment, I thought he was doing a really bad Adele impression, saying that Moonlight *should* have won. You know, how sometimes people win an award and say that someone else should have gotten it. But he stressed that it wasn’t a joke, and held up the real card, the one saying that Moonlight had won, to let everyone know that he was serious. No Marisa Tomei scandal here.
What the fuck had just happened?
Most of you probably know by now what happened. Warren Beatty was handed the wrong envelope. Apparently there are two envelopes for each category, one on each side of the stage. One of the partners from PricewaterhouseCoopers—who probably isn’t having a great morning—gave Beatty the wrong card, the duplicate card from Emma Stone’s Best Actress win.
Beatty had known something was up, he had hesitated and looked confused. He even looked inside the envelope to see if there was anything else in there.
Inexplicably, he then handed the card to Dunaway. Perhaps he was looking to her to confirm what he was seeing. But she thought his hesitation was just him milking the moment, saw “La La Land” on the card, and blurted it out, missing the part where it also said “Emma Stone.”
It’s live TV, clearly he panicked instead of asking for help. I panic when someone in a subway station asks me for directions, so I’m not going to sit here and say I would have handled it any better.
So the producers from La La Land had to be gracious on live TV and hand their Oscars over to other people. Heartbreaking for them, I’m sure. And the producers from Moonlight totally had their thunder stolen and didn’t get to have the moment in the spotlight they were supposed to have. It was hands down the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen on TV.
At least it was corrected in time for the Moonlight people to come up on stage and give their speeches, which were awesome.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has issued a statement saying that they will investigate. PwC makes such a big deal out of how careful they are. Only two people know who the winners are. They make up the cards AND memorize the winners just in case. One of them fucked up.
— PwC LLP (@PwC_LLP) February 27, 2017
I’d have been happier with boring.
Biggest Oscar Winners
Sort of in order of how big, from biggest to not so big.
Viola Davis won for Best Supporting Actress, for Fences. She became the first African-American to win an Emmy, a Tony, and an Oscar for acting. And before you start leaving comments about Whoopie, she didn’t win her Tony for acting. She won it for producing.
Viola Davis also became the tenth person to win an Oscar and a Tony for the same role, so that’s pretty cool.
But even better than all of that was her acceptance speech. Jimmy Kimmel joked that she was just nominated for an Emmy for her Oscar speech, and that should totally be a thing.
This Iranian director was nominated for Best Foreign Film, but he boycotted the ceremony because of the incredibly assholish way the Trump administration is acting towards Muslims. And he won. He gets an Oscar and a lot of publicity for his political statement. He didn’t get to go to the Oscars to enjoy his achievement, but I still call that a net win, because he gets extra points for standing up for his principles.
I’m so glad this amazing woman is still alive to appreciate all of the recognition she’s getting for being a badass.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 27, 2017
This girl—she’s still only sixteen!—is amazing. Voicing the lead in Moana was her first role, and she performed a song from the movie with the grace and confidence of a seasoned performer. And that was before she got hit on the head while signing! She just kept going like it was nothing.
Her picture was shown in the In Memoriam reel, but she’s very much alive. So despite this being another big fuck-up, she isn’t dead, so that’s a win for her.
— David Berthold (@DavidBerthold) February 27, 2017
After 20 nominations and no wins, nom number 21 finally did it for this sound mixer, who won the first-ever Just Fucking Give It To Him Already Academy Award.
Taraji P. Henson
This is also how I would have reacted to catching candy that fell from the sky on a parachute. Except she looked way better doing it.
The Hollywood Tour Bus People
So, a group of people on one of those open-top tour buses was told that they were going to see an exhibit of Oscar gowns. It was kind of true, the gowns were just on the stars at the time. They were walked in through a side door of the theater, on live TV. Jimmy Kimmel led them past the front row, introducing them to some of the biggest stars in the world.
I have no idea how much of it was staged (according to People, it was real), and I don’t care. I thought it was hilarious. But the cringeworthy-ness of some of it (Denzel Washington, especially, did not seem happy to be involved) makes me think that it was real.
I thought he did a good job. Not a great job, but a solid job. He took a few shots at Trump. He took a lot of shots at Matt Damon, which I thought was funny in the beginning, but got old. He had a few great lines. My favorite was when he said that Hacksaw Ridge was the story of a conscientious objector who decided to work with Mel Gibson anyway.
You can watch his opening monologue and judge for yourself.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) February 27, 2017
He did miss a big opportunity though. Remember, he’d been going at Matt Damon all night. When the Best Picture mix-up happened, he yelled “Warren Beatty, what did you do?” It should have been, “Matt Damon, what did you do?” Just hire me as a writer next time, Jimmy.
I’m listing this as a win for Affleck due to circumstance, even though he’s a loser: if the big Best Picture mix-up hadn’t happened, an alleged sexual predator winning as Oscar for Best Actor would have been a much bigger story. He got lucky twice last night.
Biggest Oscar Losers
From smallest losers, working up to biggest losers.
It’s really hard to put Lin-Manuel into any kind of loser category. I mean, everything he touches seems to turn to gold. But if he’d won last night for Best Song for Moana, he would have been the youngest person ever to EGOT: win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. But he still has a little time: he’s 37, and the youngest ever EGOT is 39.
He’s also on track to become the first ever MacPEGOT, since he has also won a Macarthur Genius Grant and a Pulitzer. He’ll get there.
La La Land
They will always feel a tiny bit like they were robbed, even though they weren’t.
I know that the Oscar voters often don’t echo popular opinion, and usually I get it. But I’ve never seen so many people I know so unanimous in a verdict about a movie: everybody loved Hidden Figures. It was nominated for three Oscars (Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, Adapted Screenplay, and Picture), and it didn’t win any. I mean, for fuck’s sake, Suicide Squad can now brag that it’s an Oscar-winning film (Make-Up & Hair). I know that not all categories have the same cachet, but somehow that doesn’t seem fair.
Since it was her envelope that Warren Beatty was handed, she was dragged into the Best Picture scandal. Instead of just being able to enjoy her Best Actress win and answer floofy questions about who she’s wearing and how much she had to practice singing and dancing, she was in interview after interview last night having to say with feeling how happy she was that a movie she wasn’t in won. It was a shitty position to be in.
Biggest live TV fuckup of all time. Steve Harvey should present them with the George W. Bush ‘I’m No Longer The Worst’ award.
Yes, I know they won. But it’s like even when people of color and LGBTQ people win, they lose. They had their moment stolen from them. Their coverage and celebration was overshadowed by something that was zero percent their fault. (Yes, I get the irony that I’m doing it too. Hashtag PartOfTheProblem.)
Still, I’m glad they eventually got their moment, and I hope the intense weirdness of what happened didn’t completely overshadow the fact that they really were the night’s big winners.