Let's dissect that massive Oscars screw-up
Thanks, Warren Beatty – Oscars 2017 results will go down as the most memorable
If you can stomach it, watch La La Land mistakenly announced as Best Picture, before the award ends up going to Moonlight. Yes, that happened.
Woah! Who knew that the Oscars could be such a b***h?
Everyone knows that it’s the dullish head-girl of awards ceremonies. They smile and compliment her glasses, but they’re all saying catty things about her behind her back.
Well, she’s out–snarked them all. Who knew she had it in her? This is the first time a movie – nay, an entire cast and crew of hardworking committed industry pros – have been actively punished. They had to hand over their Oscars. Within minutes. Onstage.
It’s a move that’s all the more wounding for being both unexpected and (apparently) accidental. Oh, says the Oscars, faux-concern spreading over her bland features, did I say something wrong?
And in the stunned silence that greets her devastating insult – as La La Land stands there turning a horrible shade of magenta, and Moonlight does its best to look concerned and contrite – let us be the first to start giggling and whispering.
What the hell just happened?
The award was presented by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who were the lead actors in 1967 true-crime movie Bonnie and Clyde. Here they are, about to shoot the hopes and dreams of the La La Land team.
As the envelope is opened, there’s a bit of old-guy-blinking from Beatty. He looks a little confused, bewildered. Dunaway thinks he’s being a tease. ‘You’re awful,’ she says affectionately.
Affection turns to impatience. Dunaway reads the card herself and announces La La Land as the winner. Let the history books state that she pulled the trigger; or, rather, she curled her hand around Beatty’s and they pulled the trigger together. Sweet!
No one suspects that there’s anything wrong. Music is played, hands are clapped.
Like a lot of people, we were a little disappointed that La La Land had beaten the superlative Moonlight (read our preferred winners here), but it still felt like a justified win: La La Land is a great, great film. So, OK: the world trundles along as normal.
Except it doesn’t.
Up on stage, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz thanks his parents and his ‘kind, generous, talented, beautiful, blue-eyed wife.’ Then he makes a breathy little ‘whoof’ noise – the cathartic, emotional noise of someone having reached a peak of happiness and vocational satisfaction.
Someone else, another producer presumably, takes the mic, and talks seriously about how ‘repression is the enemy of civilisation’. But already there’s movement in the background. Something’s up. The La La Land herd is spooked.
Horowitz announces that there’s been a mistake. ‘Moonlight – you guys won best picture’. And he holds up the actual announcement card, the one that Beatty and Dunaway should have been reading from. He holds it to the camera for the world to see.
The light glints off his gold wedding band, the ring that binds him eternally to the wife he just gloriously declared his devotion to in a moment almost like a second set of wedding vows.
Somewhere, watching, his wife sees the horrible moment live-streamed. Sees her husband’s whole happiness crushed, and – who knows – immediately dies of a sudden aneurysm. Possibly. Jordan Horowitz’s night couldn’t get much worse.
Jimmy Kimmel, in his most aw-shucks placatory voice, says, ‘I think you guys should keep it anyway’. That’s not how this works, Jimmy. La La Land was just publicly executed. You can’t just hand someone back their guillotined head and make it OK.
‘I want to tell you what happened,’ says Beatty. ‘Warren,’ says Kimmel, ‘what did you do?’ Dunaway is already burning rubber in her getaway car. Smooth.
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins goes ahead with his speech. ‘Even in my dreams this could not be true,’ he says. ‘But to hell with dreams, I’m done with it, ‘cos this is true!’
A lovely prepared statement, but one that really should have been set-aside as soon as the snafu was revealed. Because presumably it wasn’t Barry Jenkins’ dream to have his rivals in this friendly, low-stakes competition clumsily eviscerated in front of the whole world. Right?
Even better is the beginning of his colleague’s follow-up speech: ‘It is so humbling to be standing up here with hopefully still the La La… crew?’ She turns around but they’re gone. Just… gone. Presumably they’ve been taken outside to be shot, for humanitarian reasons. RIP La La Land. We loved you, but there’s no coming back from that.
Click here to read the full results from the 2017 Oscars