In an odd turn of events, “Moonlight” became the surprise winner of Best Picture – a surprise that involved a mistaken reading of the winner.
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, reading from the wrong envelope that declared Emma Stone the Oscar winner for leading actress, mistook it (according to Beatty at the ceremony) and declared frontrunner “La La Land” as the winner for Best Picture.
That mistake was only rectified after the crew of “La La Land” reached the stage and they were in the middle of their speech.
Bizarrely, the Academy Awards main Twitter feed also posted that "La La Land" had won the Best Picture Oscar, though that tweet was later deleted.
The crew of “La La Land” took the crushing mistake in stride while on stage, handing over the Oscar to the cast and crew of “Moonlight.”
It was one of many losses of “La La Land,” though the film still gave Stone her first Oscar, and awarded director Damien Chazelle. It also earned Oscars for Original Score and Original Song (“City of Stars,” not the better song, “Audition”). But it fell far behind the record of 12 wins – something it was clearly not going to get at the beginning of the show when it lost Costume Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing awards.
Though the end was a strange twist, the acting awards followed along most predictions.
Mahershala Ali was the first winner of the night, taking the Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for his work in “Moonlight.” A few awards later, Viola Davis added an Oscar to the awards she received for her role in “Fences,” something that already earned her a SAG award, BAFTA and Golden Globe.
Late in the night, Casey Affleck took home the Oscar for leading actor for “Manchester by the Sea,” while Emma Stone took home the actress Oscar for “La La Land.”
When it came down to politics, many of the celebrities didn’t touch upon it. All of the acting awards went to first-time Oscar winners whose speeches focused on family and film crews.
That didn’t stop host Jimmy Kimmel from making comments continually through the show, or from other winners using the stage to their advantage. In a statement for his Foreign Language Film win, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi fought against the immigration ban, the crew behind the short documentary “The White Helmets” reminded the audience of the ongoing war in Syria, while the makers of the Oscar-winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America” discussed police brutality and how race plays a factor. The “Moonlight” writers also gave a spotlight to the ACLU, whose ribbons were worn by many in attendance at the ceremony.
Some presenters also used the stage to their advantage, including Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal who likened an actor’s life to migrants and railed against the idea of a wall separating people.
Even outside the show itself, viewers still saw political messages in commercials, though that and many messages during the Oscars focused on unity rather than opposition.
In a still rather tame night, here’s a look at some of the best and worst moments of the Oscars:
- Kate McKinnon’s pseudo audition for host next year, followed closely by Dwayne Johnson also making a case for a charming host.
- Auli’I Cravalho not missing a beat during her performance of nominated song “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana,” despite singing in front of an A-list crowd, being just 16 years old and taking a hit from a wayward dancer’s flag.
- Jimmy Kimmel’s ongoing feud with Matt Damon leading up to a satire of the Oscars own segments pairing actors with their on-screen heroes. Arguably a too-lengthy bit, Kimmel gets to play music over Damon and introduce him as Ben Affleck’s “guest” for presenter.
- “Suicide Squad” is now an Academy Award-winning film.
- Multiple ongoing jokes about not understanding aspects of filmmaking – what production design is, what the technical awards are – or generally not knowing what nominated movies are about.
- A man and woman designated to bull rush people off stage, along with the usual music.
- Making presenters give awards to movies that are not their films. There’s no need to have Felicity Jones and Riz Ahmed take on the VFX award to give to “The Jungle Book” when “Rogue One” was also nominated, and Amy Adams handing an award to “Moonlight” instead of “Arrival” for Best Adapted Screenplay.