The 89th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, were going exactly as planned. The acting awards went to the favorites and “La La Land” looked to be in the driver's seat for Best Picture after Damien Chazelle became the youngest Best Director winner in history. Then the clock struck midnight, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway walked on stage and everybody lost their minds.
The “Bonnie and Clyde” duo awarded the night’s top prize to “La La Land,” only to have security come on stage during the acceptance speech and inform the audience that “Moonlight” had in fact won the award. Twitter exploded in response to the gaffe, and “La La Land” joined the Warriors and Falcons on the Internet meme hit list. The Best Picture envelope was the smoking gun in the situation, as it contained Emma Stone’s win for Best Actress instead of “Moonlight.”
“They had one job to do and they blew it,” Danny Porciello, a second-semester actuarial science major said. The real winner of the ordeal was Warren Beatty, who went from an old actor losing his marbles, to an unfortunate victim of chance in a matter of minutes.
Confusion over the announcement of the award took away from the surprise upset of “La La Land.” Going into the awards the narrative for the Best Picture race, reductive as it may be, stated that the flashy homage to classic Hollywood in “La La Land” was going to beat the more deserving, and understated character-study of “Moonlight.” This win continues the Academy’s movement away from Oscar-bait films as Best Picture winners, toward smaller, quieter films such as “Spotlight” and “Moonlight.”
Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Emma Stone (“La La Land”) took home the lead actor and actress awards, as was expected, while Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and Viola Davis (“Fences”) won the Supporting categories.
Complete List of Winners click here.
The other notable storyline from the night was how the show addressed America’s political climate. Jimmy Kimmel tapped into the unlimited well of comedy that is the president’s first month in office on numerous occasions. Most memorable of these bits was the standing ovation for Meryl Streep, whom the President called “overrated” on Twitter. Although these moments did garner a solid laugh, the inevitability of a Trump joke diminishes its effect.
The most politically charged moments of the show came not from the host, but from Oscar winners. Barry Jenkins, writer and director of “Moonlight” addressed the rhetoric coming from the White House saying: "All you people out there who feel like there's no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you.”
A notable absence from the award show was Best Foreign Language Film winner and Iran native, Asghar Farhadi, who had someone speak on his behalf as part of his protest of Trump’s proposed travel ban.
The topic of sexual assault against women was brought to the fore when Brie Larson refused to clap for Best Actor winner Casey Affleck. The “Manchester by the Sea” star was accused of sexual harassment by two coworkers during the production of the film “I’m Still Here.” Larson, an advocate for victims of sexual assault, won the Best Actress award last year for her portrayal of a rape victim in “Room.”
Kimmel’s highlight of the night came from his inexplicable hatred for Matt Damon, who took the jokes surprisingly well. Fourth-semester PNB major, Ryan Anthonypillai, reiterated this sentiment when asked what his favorite part of the show was saying: “The Matt Damon joke was the funniest for me, especially when he played him off stage.”
Viola Davis gave the standout speech of the night, praising the job of artists as gravediggers, who “exhume” the stories of those from the past.
Sunday night was filled with political and social commentary, but will forever be remembered as the time the Academy messed up the most important award of the entire night.
Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.