After a night of celebration, unity, jubilation and falling candy, the 89th Annual Academy Awards ended with a great deal of controversy and confusion, as La La Land—which took home six Oscars after a record 14 nominations—was named Best Picture.
The cast and crew’s celebration would be short lived.
Presenter Warren Beatty was handed the wrong envelope sealed by accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers and after a moment of confusion, handed the envelope to co-presenter Faye Dunaway. Dunaway announced La La Land as the recipient of the Best Picture award. In reality, the envelope was a spare envelope declaring Emma Stone as Best Actress.
The film’s producers gave heartfelt speeches with their awards, just to be informed they were not the intended recipients of the award.
Moonlight was the actual winner of the award. Its sudden rise from anonymity was seen as a surprise to many people. The underdog pulled off the upset but was not able to completely enjoy its moment of triumph, as most people were reeling from the shocking events.
Besides this major unprecedented gaffe, the show was actually a very successful one. It all started with the host.
Jimmy Kimmel did a fantastic job of hosting the show, as he continued his long-standing fake rivalry with Matt Damon, live tweeted President Donald Trump, asking “u up,” led a group of Hollywood tourists through the front row of the crowd and tried to promote Hollywood’s mostly diverse background.
Kimmel walked the very fine line of political moderation as he called for unity regardless of political background and his handling of the mix-up at the end of the show has been universally praised. Most of the award winners were very moderate as well, taking only subtle jabs at Trump and his policies, leading to a night of little controversy in that regard.
While the host kept the show together, the award winners were the highlights of the spectacle.
Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for his powerful performance in Moonlight. Ali made history as he was the first Muslim actor to ever win the award, which, in this time of great religious division in the United States, let the viewers hear from a man who belongs to an often persecuted demographic.
Ali, who rose to fame for his role as Remy Danton in Netflix’s House of Cards, delivered a poignant speech that encompassed the most powerful theme of the film—acceptance.
The award for Best Supporting Actress went to Viola Davis for her role in Fences. Her speech, in which she thanked God for blessing her with her parents and career, was an extremely moving speech that served as a reminder of a simple fact—everyone starts somewhere small and has to work hard to achieve their dreams.
Her speech put the whole night into perspective and united a crowd of Hollywood’s biggest stars under the idea that hard work, dedication and mastership of one’s craft can help a person reach his or her biggest and brightest dreams.
There are many awards handed out during the Academy Awards ceremony that go to the masterminds behind the scenes. These people leave an indelible mark on the films they work on and without them, we would view their films differently.
The awards presented include Best Director, awarded to Damien Chazelle for his work in La La Land, Best Cinematography, awarded to Linus Sandgren for his work in La La Land, and Best Costume Design, awarded to Colleen Atwood for her work in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
John Gilbert won the award for Best Film Editing for his masterful job in Hacksaw Ridge. Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Allen Nelson took home the Best Makeup award for their work in Suicide Squad. Other awards include Best Sound Mixing, awarded to Hacksaw Ridge, Best Sound Editing, given to Arrival, and Best Original Music Score and Best Original Song, both awarded to Justin Hurwitz for La La Land. Without these elements, the aforementioned movies would not be the same.
The people behind the scenes are recognized the same night as the icons of the silver screen, showing the true symbiotic relationship between the two facets of cinema.
The awards for Best Actor and Best Actress included a nomination pool of some of the most talented actors and actresses of today. Stone took the coveted award and promised to “hug the hell” out of everyone who helped her reach the pinnacle of her young career. Casey Affleck won the Best Actor award and showed true emotion and shock after winning the award, proclaiming he had wished he “prepared something better.”
As previously mentioned, the presentation of the biggest award of the night was marred in controversy, but it was Moonlight that beat out a plethora of incredible films to take home the award for Best Picture.
It was a triumphant moment, as the movie featured a mostly African-American cast, reviving the reputation of the Academy, which took a great deal of heat last year for not featuring any African-American nominees for Best Actor, Best Actress or Best Picture.
While the 89th Academy Awards may be remembered mostly for the closing show mishap, the ceremony was a wonderful celebration of cinema that will go down in history.