EN­TER­TAIN­MENT OSCARS BLUN­DER

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY LIND­SEY BAHR THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wrong film an­nounced as Best Pic­ture.

The 89th Academy Awards got off on the right foot, with a song and dance, but ended with the most stunning mis­take ever to be­fall the es­teemed awards show when the best pic­ture Os­car was pre­sented to the wrong movie. Faye Du­n­away and War­ren Beatty, hold­ing an in­cor­rect en­ve­lope, wrongly pre­sented the top prize to “La La Land’’ in­stead of “Moon­light.’’

The mo­ment at the con­clu­sion of the Sun­day-night show was so jaw-drop­ping, it eclipsed ev­ery­thing else in a cer­e­mony that was packed to the brim with Don­ald Trump jabs, fun stunts, heart­felt pos­i­tiv­ity and a stunning up­set by “Moon­light’’ over what had been a “La La’’ jug­ger­naut through­out the awards sea­son. Yet some­how, even the em­bar­rass­ing mo­ment piv­oted into grace.

As confusion and baf­fle­ment over­whelmed those in the Dolby Theatre and at home on their couches, “Moon­light’’ di­rec­tor Barry Jenk­ins and “La La Land’’ di­rec­tor Damien Chazelle shared a hug on the back of the stage, out of sight from the tele­vi­sion cam­eras.

“The folks of ‘La La Land’ were so gra­cious. I can’t imag­ine be­ing in their po­si­tion and hav­ing to do that,’’ Jenk­ins told re­porters back­stage. “It was un­for­tu­nate that things hap­pened as they did but, god­damn, we won best pic­ture.’’

Os­car tab­u­la­tors PwC, in their 83rd year pro­vid­ing the ser­vice to the academy, later apol­o­gized in a state­ment and are in­ves­ti­gat­ing why it hap­pened.

There’s no deny­ing, though, that “Moon­light’s’’ win over “La La Land’’ was a mas­sive up­set, made only more pointed by the en­ve­lope gaffe. Chazelle’s candy-coloured mu­si­cal was widely pre­sumed to be a shooin for the top prize af­ter its record-ty­ing 14 nom­i­na­tions and a rel­a­tive sweep of the awards sea­son. The film still won six Oscars, in­clud­ing best di­rec­tor for Chazelle, who at 32 be­came the youngest ever to take the prize, and for score, song (“City of Stars’’) and ac­tress to Emma Stone.

The ac­tress, who pledged her deep love of “Moon­light,’’ said later, “Is that the cra­zi­est Os­car mo­ment of all time? Cool!’’

The best pic­ture mix-up ap­par­ently wasn’t the only gaffe at the Oscars. An Aus­tralian film pro­ducer’s photo was mis­tak­enly in­cluded in the “In Me­mo­riam’’ trib­ute. Jan Chap­man’s

“The folks of ‘La La Land’ were so gra­cious. I can’t imag­ine be­ing in their po­si­tion and hav­ing to do that,’’ Jenk­ins told re­porters back­stage. “It was un­for­tu­nate that things hap­pened as they did but, god­damn, we won best pic­ture.’’

‘Moon­light ‘ di­rec­tor Barry Jenk­ins

photo was shown with the name of Janet Pat­ter­son, an Aus­tralian cos­tume de­signer who died in 2015. The Academy didn’t re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

The academy usu­ally throws awards at films that gaze lov­ingly at Hol­ly­wood, but Barry Jenk­ins’ heart­felt comin­gof-age drama se­duced academy vot­ers in the end — a sub­tle tide change per­haps in­formed by both a prickly po­lit­i­cal cli­mate and an ur­gent im­per­a­tive to hon­our more di­verse films af­ter two con­sec­u­tive years of Os­carsSoWhite.

Di­ver­sity could be found in ev­ery cor­ner of the awards this year, with sup­port­ing act­ing wins for “Moon­light’s’’ Ma­her­shala Ali and “Fences’’’ Vi­ola Davis, although the best ac­tor cat­e­gory proved to be a bit of an up­set when Casey Affleck won for “Manch­ester by the Sea’’ over Den­zel Wash­ing­ton of “Fences,’’ who had picked up mo­men­tum in re­cent weeks.

The im­prove­ment fol­lowed ef­forts by Academy of Mo­tion Pic­tures Arts and Sciences Pres­i­dent Ch­eryl Boone Isaacs to di­ver­sify the mem­ber­ship of the largely white, older and male film academy. “Tonight is proof that art has no bor­ders, no sin­gle lan­guage and does not be­long to a sin­gle faith,’’ said Isaacs.

Davis gave a par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful speech in which she praised the late “Fences’’ play­wright Au­gust Wil­son who, she said, “Ex­humed and ex­alted the or­di­nary peo­ple.’’ Kim­mel said later that Davis, “Just got nom­i­nated for an Emmy for that speech.’’

Ezra Edel­man, whose nearly eight-hour epic “O.J.: Made in Amer­ica’’ took best doc­u­men­tary, ded­i­cated the award to the vic­tims of the fa­mous crime, Ni­cole Brown Simp­son and Ron­ald Gold­man.

Rich Moore, one of the three di­rec­tors of Dis­ney’s best an­i­mated film win­ner “Zootopia,’’ de­scribed the movie as about “tol­er­ance be­ing more pow­er­ful than fear of the other.’’

The ma­jor­ity of speeches were mov­ing and per­sonal and gen­er­ally in praise of art’s abil­ity to cre­ate em­pa­thy in the world, in­clud­ing Jenk­ins’ in his win for adapted screen­play, who said, “All you peo­ple out there who feel like there isn’t a mir­ror out there for you, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not for­get you.’’ But not one speech came close to Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes barn­burner.

“Per­son­ally, I didn’t say any­thing be­cause my head was com­pletely blank,’’ Affleck said back­stage of his not po­lit­i­cal speech.

In­stead, pol­i­tics stayed largely with host Jimmy Kim­mel, who kept his barbs coy and ir­rev­er­ent, stat­ing at the start that he wasn’t the man to unite the coun­try.

The host pep­pered the evening with digs at Pres­i­dent Trump, at one point ask­ing the crowd to stand for the “over­rated Meryl Streep,’’ and, later, for any news out­let with the word “Times’’ in its name to leave, say­ing, “We have no tol­er­ance for fake news.’’

Kim­mel even jok­ingly thanked the pres­i­dent for shift­ing the fo­cus of the night.

“Re­mem­ber last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?’’ he said in the open­ing.

The evening’s most blunt protests against Trump came not from the A-list stars but from for­eign­ers, a few of whom were not even in at­ten­dance and could com­mu­ni­cate their sen­ti­ments only through state­ments.

Kim­mel, as if pre­dict­ing that this would be the case, said early that the Oscars are watched by 225 coun­tries “that now hate us.’’

Ira­nian di­rec­tor As­ghar Farhadi, whose “The Sales­man’’ won best for­eign film, his sec­ond win in the cat­e­gory, did not at­tend the cer­e­mony in protest of Trump’s travel ban to seven pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim na­tions.

Anousheh An­sari, an Ira­nian as­tro­naut, read a state­ment from Farhadi.

“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,’’ it read. “My ab­sence is out of re­spect for the peo­ple of my coun­try and those of other six na­tions who have been dis­re­spected by the in­hu­mane law that bans en­try of im­mi­grants to the U.S.’’

Gael Gar­cia Ber­nal, the Mex­i­can ac­tor, while pre­sent­ing an award, also de­clared: “As a mi­grant worker, as a Mex­i­can, and as a hu­man be­ing, I am against any wall.’’

But, of course, the big best pic­ture mis­take will be the thing that his­tory re­mem­bers about the 89th Academy Awards.

“Let’s re­mem­ber this is just an awards show,’’ Kim­mel said at the close. “I knew I would screw this show up, I re­ally did. I promise I’ll never come back.’’

AP PHOTO

War­ren Beatty, from left, re­veals “Moon­light” as the ac­tual win­ner of best pic­ture as Jor­dan Horowitz em­braces Barry Jenk­ins at the Oscars on Sun­day at the Dolby Theatre in Los An­ge­les.

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