Oscars 2017: Moonlight crowned best film in the confusion

In an odd and peculiar moment, that will go down in the history of fails, the feature film Moonlight by Barry Jenkins won the Oscar for best film while the presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway had previously announced that the trophy was going to La La Land by Damien Chazelle.

The error has created a monstrous embarrassment on the scene of the Dolby Theater in West Hollywood where the producers of La La Land, in the middle of their acceptance speeches, suddenly announced that there had been a huge misunderstanding.

Embarrassed, Warren Beatty explained having had a second of hesitation after seeing the name Emma Stone, who had actually won the Best Actress prize for La La Land, on the piece of cardboard in his hands.

The evening is therefore concluded with serious speeches rather acolytes and a host, Jimmy Kimmel, who was trying to console everyone taking on the blame for the giant giant giant “fuck-up” (in the illustrious twitter words of Michael Moore) and stating that he would never return.

That being said, Moonlight won the awards for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Already the recipient of many awards including the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, the work of Barry Jenkins tells the story of three periods in the life of Chiron, a young black man from Miami that attempts to live his homosexuality in a hard environment and lacking any form of pity.

La La Land has nevertheless dominated the evening with six wins out of the 14 nominations. Among those, the trophy for Best Director went to Damien Chazelle who, at 32 years old, becomes the youngest filmmaker to win the golden statuette.

A beautiful story of two young artists, an actress and a pianist, who attempt to breakthrough in the artistic world, La La Land is a love letter directed at the Hollywood life.

The other prizes for La La Land include: Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Original Score and Best Song (“City of Stars”).

In his thanks, director Damien Chazelle saluted his peers, including Canadian Denis Villeneuve, whose film Arrival ended up with one trophy for Best Sound Editing out of the 8 nominations that it had received.

“Thank you so much and I realize that a moment like this is a huge confluence of luck and opportunity,” says Emma Stone. “I still have a lot of growing and learning and work to do. And this guy (she said taking to her Oscar) is a really beautiful symbol to continue on that journey and I’m so grateful for that.”

The psychological drama Manchester by the Sea by Kenneth Lonergan has also won two major awards, Best Actor (Casey Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay.

Sylvain Bellemare takes home the Oscar for Best Sound Editing; he’s a man with a huge smile and he didn’t fail to speak French and to salute his hometown Montreal in his speech.

“Salut Montreal! Merci Denis Villeneuve!” and “Where are you?” (He was looking in the room) “I love you! All we need is love!”, he says while clutching his valuable statuette in hands.

In the Sci-Fi genre, Arrival proposes an atypical approach to a first contact between humans and extra-terrestrial creatures.

Made by Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

This win constitutes a real slap in the face to the Donald Trump administration, especially following the signing of the executive order which prohibits nationals of seven majority Muslim countries, including Iran, to enter the United States.

The filmmaker, who already has an Oscar (for writing A Separation), has declined, out of respect for the citizens of the seven countries concerned, to come to Los Angeles and to participate in the evening. “Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear” was part of his acceptance speech read by Firouz Naderi (a former NASA scientist and project manager of the Mars exploration) and Anousheh Ansari (the first self-funded woman to have gone it to space). This open rebellion, on stage and at the Oscars had a great political resonance and was very well received by the attending guests at the ceremony. “They (Filmmakers) create empathy between us and others, an empathy which we need today more than ever.”

It can be said that the question of difference, of diversity and openness to each other was the main subheading in the course of the evening. Several of the presenters and the recipients have remarked on the importance of being inclusive in all spheres of our society.

The Oscars so White

From the get go, it was felt that the controversy of Oscars so White that was the main undertone of last year, was indeed a thing of the past. Two black actors, Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) and Viola Davis (Fences) have won the trophies for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Mahershala Ali, 43 years, also became the first Muslim man to win the prestigious golden statue.

“I want to thank my teachers, my professors,” said Ali, in his acceptance speech for his trophy for the Best Supporting Actor. “One thing that they have consistently told me, is that it wasn’t about you, it was about these characters.”

Ali also thanked Barry Jenkins as well as all the members of the cast. “Each of you would have been eligible to receive this trophy”, said the new father of a baby girl born just barely four days before.

In addition, the film OJ: Made in America, devoted to the story of the former football player O.J. Simpson who has had his share of conflicts with the law, has won the Oscar for Best Documentary.

Going to seek his prize, the director, Ezra Edelman saluted the memory of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, whose dual assassination led to the trial of the former star of the Buffalo Bills. “This is also for other victims, victims of police violence, police brutality” said Edelman covered by applause.

This was a particularly contested category since the Italian documentary Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare), who had won the Golden Berlin Bear for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival 2016, was also nominated in this category.

The team of super-heroes in Suicide Squad won the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling while the cast of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them received the trophy for the Best Costume Design.

The films Lion, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie, and Nocturnal Animals went home empty handed on this awards night.

Kimmel tackles Trump… HARD!

Jimmy Kimmel, who’s hosting the Oscars for the first time (“and probably the last time”), has not failed to jab president Donald Trump right form the start of the evening.

“There are now 225 countries that hate us”, he pointed out regarding the broadcasting of the Oscars around the world.

Kimmel hit the bull’s-eye again while making a link between President Trump and last year’s controversy, Oscars so White. “Thank you to President Trump. Remember, last year, when it seemed the Oscars were racist? It’s gone! It has been an amazing year for movies, black people have saved NASA (a reference to Hidden Figures) and white people have saved Jazz (La La Land)”.

Welcoming the French actress Isabelle Huppert, nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress (Elle), Kimmel struck again: “I’m glad Homeland Security let you in tonight, I really am”.

He was more subtle and yet just as clear in his ironic mocking of Meryl Streep, whom he has asked to stand up for “a totally undeserved round of applause”, a direct reference to one of the many hate tweets from President Trump and then added “The highly overrated Meryl Streep”.

And then again he asked Streep “Nice dress by the way, is that an Ivanka?” to drive the knife home.

A more serious, Kimmel said: “As Americans, if we could just have a conversation with someone with who we disagree, we could make America great again.”

The night was kicked off by the inspired performance of Justin Timberlake who got everyone out of their seats and dancing to the rhythm of “Can’t Stop The Feeling” on the floor of the illustrious Dolby Theatre in West Hollywood. Justin was the one that introduced the host of the evening Jimmy Kimmel and got the ball rolling.

It was a night to remember at the 89th Academy Awards.

Radu Neacsu

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