Honestly, I am still needing time to process this.
I seldom have had times in my life where I am at a loss for words.
In an evening with glamour (Emma Stone had my favorite dress), humor (a job well done by Jimmy Kimmell), strong performances (sorry Justin Timberlake, John Legend, and Sting, but Auli’i Cravalho took the thunder), some well done speeches ( Mahershala Ali, as well as a win for Sound Mixer Kevin O’Connell after a previous 21 nominations without a win), an appearance from 98 year old Katherine Johnson, (the main real life character of Hidden Figures), and some very lucky tourists, the ceremony will be remembered for the greatest mistake Oscar has made in his 89 year old history.
When Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (i.e. Bonnie and Clyde) took the stage to present the last award of the night, Beatty opened the envelope and paused. Like many others, I assumed he was just drawing out suspense for play. Turns out Warren was confused, because it was the same envelope as the previous award (which was for Emma Stone for Best Actress in La La Land). Faye took it, and proclaimed La La Land the winner of Best Picture (which many, like myself, predicted). As the producers were giving their speeches, there was some commotion on stage, and they were told that there was a mistake: the real winner was Moonlight (a huge tip of the cap should go to La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, who may be the greatest, most gracious “loser” in Oscar history). Steve Harvey (who had a very similar situation at Miss Universe in 2015) would later tweet “What’d I miss?”
There have been similar cases before. Back in 1933, Oscar Host Will Rodgers was presenting the Best Director award to Frank Lloyd for Cavalcade. “Come and get it, Frank!” Rodgers screamed. The problem was , there was another nominee named Frank Capra (nominated for Lady for a Day) who thought it was he who won. He was halfway to the stage before he knew he lost (he would call his walk back to his seat one of the worst moments of his life.)
Sammy Davis Jr. also was slightly embarrased in 1964, when, as he was to annouce two catagories, and was given the second envelope first (thankfully, the winner he announced, which was Tom Jones, was not nominated in the catagory).
And let us not forget streakers, Sacheen Littlefeather, Elia Kazan’s honorary Oscar (where half the crowd did not cheer him), John Travolta not able to say Idina Menzel, and Michael Moore shouting “Shame on you Mr. Bush!”.
Still, those were (for the most part) the fault of the individual celebrities, not of the Academy. More importantly, none of them included the award for Best Picture. While Moonlight‘s win is historic (I mean, when you look at the subject matter), it will forever be linked to one mishap heard round the world.
Uncool, Academy. Very uncool.