And finally, after a wacky ending to a sadly predictable Academy Awards ceremony Sunday evening, Moonlight, the actual best film from 2016, takes home the night's most prestigious award for Best Picture. But not before presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed—then proceeded to read—the wrong card, which read that Emma Stone won best actress for her performance in La La Land. For those of you who did not watch the show, Stone had just won this award a mere moments before this category was announced, and Dunaway, with this card in hand, decided to ignore the entire first part of this card and declare La La Land wins for best picture. This is a true story that happened on a live telecast.
I'm not going to get into the Academy's mechanics and their ridiculous two sets of winner cards, etc. I'm not going to get into why anyone who was actually at the ceremony would deliberately read the wrong winner, have them come up on stage, only for them to be quickly ushered off the stage in a truly embarrassing moment. And I'm not going to get into the fact that this could and should have been the moment of the night (for a whole other reason). While all of that is valid (and I've ranted about it ad nauseum on Twitter), mutha-effin-Moonlight won best picture at the Oscars. I'll say it again: Moonlight was awarded the best film of the year. A black gay coming-of-age film that has nothing to do with racism or slavery and everything to do with the human condition and the humanity of young queer black boys just won the industry's highest honor. And I don't want any fake news, clumsy mishap to overshadow that. Because that is the fact we deserve, and that is the part that needs to be talked about.
(To be clear, I'm still going to need a thorough Oscar investigation of what happened ).
Damian Chazelle winning for best director (La La Land), Emma Stone (La La Land) winning for best actress (apparently twice), La La Land winning for best cinematography (Bradford Young's amazing cinematography in Arrival). and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) winning over Denzel Washington (Fences) is also enough to make even me declare a fake news autocracy. But I knew things had hit peak crazy when I low-key started rooting for Isabelle Huppert (Elle) for her performance in that abominable rape fantasy drama over Emma Stone for starring as the cute girl in that musical movie with the wooden dancing, and in a category that was deliberately designed for her to win.Yes, things had gotten kinda desperate in that last hour of the show.
But there were some fantastic things that happened earlier in the ceremony. Viola Davis (Fences) and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) won best supporting actress and actor in two of the most deserving wins of the evening. Zootopia also won for best animated film. And O.J. Made in America won best documentary, though I have a theory why this 7.5-hour series won over I Am Not Your Negro. In short: I'll just say that when it comes to white America and white Academy voters, the idea of seeing O.J. Simpson's devolution (even though this film is about much more than that) over James Baldwin's ability to provide relevant on the state social and racial justice from beyond the grave is one that likely doesn't sit well with white voters. And that's not to diminish the quality of O.J., because it's very, very good.
To see a full list of winners of the 2017 Osars, click here.