The biggest night in Hollywood had its 89th ceremony Sunday night as the Academy announced its decisions for the greatest performances, special effects and screenplays of 2016’s greatest films. As a film buff and long time Oscar ceremony viewer I fond many awards presented Sunday night to be worthy, but as usual their where some disappointments as well. Nothing prepared me for the shocking ending that was the Best Picture announcement.
Jimmy Kimmel was a pretty standard host. He dished out some funny jokes, poking fun at Donald Trump, doing some Matt Damon feud jokes and of course roasted several of the nominees all in good fun.
The first award given out was for Best Supporting Actor and was given to Mahershala Ali, whose incredible performance in “Moonlight” as Chiron’s first mentor Juan was so incredibly subtle and moving that I can see no man winning other than him. In a way, Ali’s win seems to commemorate his entire 2016 career in general. He also gave fantastic performances in “Free State of Jones” and “Hidden Figures,” as well as his fantastic work in the television show “Luke Cage,” where he gave the show’s main villain a sense of depth and emotion that you don’t often see.
Documentary Feature was given to “O.J.: Made in America,” which is probably the most intriguing win of the night. The documentary aired on television and was comprised of a five-part miniseries. It was over seven hours long. The Emmys has a category for Miniseries that made many question its purpose as a nomination, yet it ended up winning. It’s certainly a deserved win considering many critics have called it one of the greatest documentaries ever made.
The ceremony then continued by handing out another big name award, Best Supporting Actress was given to Viola Davis for her work in “Fences.” Davis was praised for her performance in the film and with the win she becomes the only African American actress to win an Oscar, Tony and Emmy in categories for acting. Whoopi Goldberg has also won all three awards but her Tony was for producing and her Emmy was for hosting “The View.” Davis and Goldberg are the only two African Americans to have all three of these awards. Truly the 89th ceremony was a historic one.
“The Salesman” was awarded the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The film’s director Asghar Farhadi was initially not allowed to enter the country for the ceremony due to the temporary ban on Iranian individuals visiting the U.S. Farhadi then decided to boycott the ceremony not in opposition to the Academy but in opposition to the ban. He requested two prominent Iranian-Americans to appear in his stead. A statement from all the nominated Foreign Film directors included this powerful sentiment: “We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.”
“La La Land” took home most of the awards. Best Original Score and Best Original Song being two of them. “La La Land” had two Best Original Song nominations in the category and the inferior song, “City of Stars,” won. The other nominated piece “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” has an incredible emotional punch to it, Mia’s ballad about the power of dreams and reaching your goals. It was by far the better song, but lost to the more popular song that was used in the film’s marketing.
The screenplay awards were next, with Best Original Screenplay going to “Manchester by the Sea” and Best Adapted Screenplay given to “Moonlight.” Bravo to both of these films. Their scripts were filled with moving moments with absolutely spell-binding language. Both films grasped the beauty of emotional growth and accepting perceived flaws as strengths. I couldn’t be happier with the films that won in these categories.
Best Directing was up next and was handed over to Damien Chazelle for his work on “La La Land.” This award seems incredibly deserved for Chazelle. Though he has only directed two big movies, the Best Directing award goes to a director that went above and beyond to create his or her film. While people are certainly divided on the quality of “La La Land” there is no doubt that the film must have required a tremendous amount of dedication from Chazelle’s part. I would have been happy if any of the men nominated would have won, except for maybe Gibson.
Best Actor in a Leading Role was given to Casey Affleck for his performance as Lee Chandler in “Manchester by the Sea.” His performance is subtle and understated, showcasing the entire scope of his talents. There is, however, the cloud of the sexual harassment lawsuits hanging over Affleck.
Best Actress in a Leading Role was given to Emma Stone for her performance in “La La Land.” All four of the talented women nominated could have won the award, maybe not Meryl Streep, but the Academy gave the award to Stone. Her performance is chipper, filled with personality, and highlights her incredibly good singing voice.
Then came the big moment, Best Picture. Truly the greatest Oscar moment in history took place this last Sunday as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the stage to announce who had taken home the biggest and most coveted prize of the night. After the nominees were announced Beatty opened the envelope and looked to Dunaway with a confused but coy look in his eyes. Dunaway and the audience assumed Beatty was having fun so she grabbed the envelope and announced “La La Land” had won. Amongst the commotion of the “La La Land” team coming to the stage, Beatty could be heard saying “it says Emma Stone.”
A few moments into the speech, “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz, in a moment of true integrity announced that a mistake had been made. He grabbed the correct envelope in Warren Beatty’s hands and announced that “Moonlight” had actually won the Best Picture award. Shock covered the audience’s faces as Horowitz said “this is not a joke, ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won.” Kimmel jokingly commented that they should give everyone awards to which Horowitz said “I’m going to be very happy to hand these awards to my friends tonight.”
Barry Jenkins, director of “Moonlight” took the stage with the rest of the production crew and cast. “Moonlight” broke boundaries in thousands of ways. The film was about people we do not see in movies and if it’s completely deserved win results in more stories praising diversity and teaching people to love and appreciate who they are then that means our world is better for it. “Moonlight” was the film that deserved to win Best Picture, I feel sad at the mistake of announcing “La La Land,” but I am so astonished at how gracefully Horowitz and company handled the mistake. The integrity shown by them in that moment is worth all the praise I can give them.
The 89th Academy Awards was an average show that was capped off with a shocking and moving twist ending that made it a truly incredible evening for films. While I wasn’t happy with all the films that won in certain categories I can safely say that it was truly a great ceremony.