FRANKIE TAGGART –
Coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” won the coveted best picture statuette at Sunday’s Oscars, but the evening ended in chaos as “La La Land” — already the winner of six prizes — was first mistakenly handed the award.
Until the final minute, the film industry’s biggest night had run smoothly, and was marked by plenty of political statements, mainly jabs at President Donald Trump, and light-hearted jokes from host Jimmy Kimmel.
But the epic stumble on the final award was the nightmare Hollywood ending no one wanted to see.
Tinseltown legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, stars of 1967 crime classic “Bonnie and Clyde,” were meant to give the best picture Oscar to Barry Jenkins’s film, but she mistakenly called it for Damien Chazelle’s musical.
Scenes of confusion and embarrassment followed after the “La La Land” crew — already on stage and delivering speeches — suddenly realized the mistake and announced themselves that “Moonlight” had actually won, prompting Beatty to mumble apologies.
The Oscar-winning veteran actor and director, 79, said he’d been given the wrong envelope — the one containing the card announcing “La La Land” star Emma Stone’s best actress win.
Stone said backstage she had been hanging on to her winning envelope the whole time, although slowed-down footage of the commotion appeared to corroborate Beatty’s explanation.
Several reports suggested that two sets of envelopes are typically on site during the ceremony — one on either side of the stage.
“This was confusing, obviously, so… we thought he was being coy and cute and milking it but, in reality, he was perplexed by why her name was on it,” host Jimmy Kimmel told ABC after the show.
So far, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has not issued a formal statement about the embarrassing mix-up.
“Moonlight” was a shock winner for best picture, after Chazelle’s runaway favorite “La La Land” — a modern take on the all-singing, all-dancing Golden Age of Tinseltown’s studio system — had taken six prizes for best director, actress, score, song, production design and cinematography.
“I noticed the commotion and thought something was strange. And then I was speechless by the result,” Jenkins, who won earlier for best adapted screenplay, said backstage.
“I’ve watched the Academy Awards before and have and have never seen that happen before.”
Starring Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali — who bagged the first of the movie’s three Oscars — “Moonlight” tells the life story of a young African-American struggling to find his place as he grows up poor in Miami.
The film has won plaudits as a vital portrait of contemporary African-American life and is praised in equal measure as a moving meditation on identity, family, friendship and love.
It beat seven other films besides “La La Land” — including alien thriller “Arrival” and family dramas “Manchester by the Sea” and “Fences” — for best picture honors.
Despite the stunning finish, sure to go down as one of the worst moments in Oscars history, the overall winner of the night was still “La La Land”.
Starring Stone and Ryan Gosling as an aspiring actress and a struggling jazz musician who fall in love in Los Angeles, it has charmed critics the world over and returned more than 10 times its $30 million budget.
“This was a movie about love and I was lucky enough to fall in love while making it,” said Chazelle, 32, the youngest filmmaker by several months ever to win a best directing Oscar. — AFP