2017 Oscar Winners

The Oscars ceremony last night was marked by high drama, controversy and a stunning upset. Honestly, I’m having trouble believing it myself, but indeed the shocking fact remains that Lin-Manuel Miranda did not EGOT…

… yet. I’m sure he’ll get another chance in the future. In the meantime, despite the enormous pressure from seemingly the entirety of Western civilization to give the man another damn trophy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences instead bestowed the Best Original Song award to Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for the tune “City of Stars” from ‘La La Land’.

Oh yeah, something else a little surprising happened as well.

In what I have to assume is an unprecedented turn of events, the statues for Best Picture were ripped out of the hands of the announced winners in the middle of their acceptance speeches. After opening the envelope, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway doddered and stared at the card for a moment before Dunaway declared front-runner ‘La La Land’ the winner. Producers of the film took the stage and began delivering their thank yous. As they spoke, some commotion happened in the background until, finally, it was announced that ‘Moonlight’ had in fact won the prize.

During the confused few moments that followed, Beatty took the microphone to explain that the envelope he opened contained a card listing Emma Stone as the Best Actress winner (a prize already given out a few minutes earlier). He and Dunaway took this to mean that ‘La La Land’ had also won Best Picture. It turns out, that was not the case.

The producers of ‘La La Land’ graciously conceded their defeat and the team from ‘Moonlight’, in dazed disbelief, replaced them on stage and gave their own speeches.

Even though this was probably not their fault, I doubt that Beatty or Dunaway will ever live this down. I foresee many jokes being made about how ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ wasn’t the only fiasco Beatty was responsible for in recent months.

Random Thoughts and Observations

Notwithstanding the kerfuffle at the end, I thought that Jimmy Kimmel did a great job of hosting the ceremony this year. He kept the tone light and brisk. His opening monologue was funny and his comedy bits involving snacks parachuting in from the ceiling and a prank pulled on a tour bus filled with sightseers were entertaining. As it always does, the show ran far too long (nearly four hours), but it moved along pretty breezily and didn’t feel nearly as ponderous as usual.

It was a very smart decision to forego the expected opening comedy skit. Those things have only gotten lamer and lamer over the years, Instead, Justin Timberlake started the evening with a high-energy performance of Best Song nominee “Can’t Stop the Feeling” that immediately put the crowd in a good mood.

It should be no surprise to anyone that this year’s broadcast would feature a lot of political jokes from Kimmel as well as statements and commentary from the winners. Honestly, though, I expected worse than what we got, which wasn’t nearly as much of a burden on the show as it might have been.

With the ‘Moonlight’ win as well as Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress prizes going to people of color (Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis, respectively), I’m sure the Academy hopes that an #OscarsLessWhite hashtag will start trending on social media.

‘Suicide Squad’ actually won an Oscar, for Makeup and Hairstyling.

Despite its record-tying 14 nominations, early losses in the Costume Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories demonstrated that ‘La La Land’ would not have an easy sweep as many people may have assumed. In all, the film claimed six awards, the biggest being Best Director for Damien Chazelle and Best Actress for Emma Stone.

Following a trend of recent years, the Academy once again split up the Best Director and Best Picture prizes to separate movies. In the past, those two categories were traditionally very closely tied together.

In my opinion, the most obnoxious moment of the evening came when Lin-Manuel Miranda added a new rap intro segment to the performance of song nominee “How Far I’ll Go” just so that he’d have an excuse to appear on stage. The production number for the rest of the song was lovely, however.

New Oscar winner ‘Sing’ is not the movie named ‘Sing’ that you’ve actually heard of (the animated one about the animal talent show). This one’s a live-action short.

The past year has been a virtual bloodbath of celebrity deaths, and it was probably inevitable that the Oscars’ In Memoriam reel would miss a few notable passings. The one that stuck out to me the most was a failure to mention David Bowie. [As pointed out in the Comments, he may have been included in last year’s montage.] In presenting the clip, Jennifer Aniston did acknowledge this weekend’s shocking death of Bill Paxton, however.

Recent chatter that the Best Actor momentum had swung toward Denzel Washington came to nothing when Casey Affleck took the prize after all. Washington looked quite pissed when the camera cut to him, even after Affleck thanked him personally.

At the final count, I called 14 of the 24 winners correctly. That’s actually better than my usual average, but my wife still beat me by one.

Best Picture

  • ‘Arrival’
  • ‘Fences’
  • ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
  • ‘Hell or High Water’
  • ‘Hidden Figures’
  • ‘La La Land’
  • ‘Lion’
  • ‘Manchester by the Sea’
  • ‘Moonlight’

Josh’s prediction: ‘La La Land’
Actual Winner: ‘La La Land’ ‘Moonlight’

Best Director

  • Damien Chazelle, ‘La La Land’
  • Mel Gibson, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
  • Barry Jenkins, ‘Moonlight’
  • Kenneth Lonergan, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
  • Denis Villeneuve, ‘Arrival’

Josh’s prediction: Damien Chazelle
Actual Winner: Damien Chazelle

Best Actor

  • Casey Affleck, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
  • Andrew Garfield, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
  • Ryan Gosling, ‘La La Land’
  • Viggo Mortensen, ‘Captain Fantastic’
  • Denzel Washington, ‘Fences’

Josh’s prediction: Casey Affleck
Actual Winner: Casey Affleck

Best Actress

  • Isabelle Huppert, ‘Elle’
  • Ruth Negga, ‘Loving’
  • Natalie Portman, ‘Jackie’
  • Emma Stone, ‘La La Land’
  • Meryl Streep, ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

Josh’s prediction: Emma Stone
Actual Winner: Emma Stone

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali, ‘Moonlight’
  • Jeff Bridges, ‘Hell or High Water’
  • Lucas Hedges, ‘Manchester by the Sea’
  • Dev Patel, ‘Lion’
  • Michael Shannon, ‘Nocturnal Animals’

Josh’s prediction: Mahershala Ali
Actual Winner: Mahershala Ali

Best Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis, ‘Fences’
  • Naomie Harris, ‘Moonlight’
  • Nicole Kidman, ‘Lion’
  • Octavia Spencer, ‘Hidden Figures’
  • Michelle Williams, ‘Manchester by the Sea’

Josh’s prediction: Viola Davis
Actual Winner: Viola Davis

Best Animated Feature

  • ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’
  • ‘Moana’
  • ‘My Life as a Zucchini’
  • ‘The Red Turtle’
  • ‘Zootopia’

Josh’s prediction: ‘Zootopia’
Actual Winner: ‘Zootopia’

Best Foreign-Language Film

  • ‘Land of Mine’, Denmark
  • ‘A Man Called Ove’, Sweden
  • ‘The Salesman’, Iran
  • ‘Tanna’, Australia
  • ‘Toni Erdmann’, Germany

Josh’s prediction: ‘The Salesman’
Actual Winner: ‘The Salesman’

Best Original Screenplay

  • ’20th Century Women’
  • ‘Hell or High Water’
  • ‘La La Land’
  • ‘The Lobster’
  • ‘Manchester by the Sea’

Josh’s prediction: ‘Hell or High Water’
Actual Winner: ‘Manchester by the Sea’

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • ‘Arrival’
  • ‘Fences’
  • ‘Hidden Figures’
  • ‘Lion’
  • ‘Moonlight’

Josh’s prediction: ‘Hidden Figures’
Actual Winner: ‘Moonlight’

Best Visual Effects

  • ‘Deepwater Horizon’
  • ‘Doctor Strange’
  • ‘The Jungle Book’
  • ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’
  • ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

Josh’s prediction: ‘Doctor Strange’
Actual Winner: ‘The Jungle Book’

Best Cinematography

  • ‘Arrival’
  • ‘La La Land’
  • ‘Lion’
  • ‘Moonlight’
  • ‘Silence’

Josh’s prediction: ‘La La Land’
Actual Winner: ‘La La Land’

Best Original Score

  • ‘Jackie’
  • ‘La La Land’
  • ‘Lion’
  • ‘Moonlight’
  • ‘Passengers’

Josh’s prediction: ‘La La Land’
Actual Winner: ‘La La Land’

Best Original Song

  • “Audition (The Fools who Dream)” from ‘La La Land’
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from ‘Trolls’
  • “City of Stars” from ‘La La Land’
  • “The Empty Chair” from ‘Jim: The James Foley Story’
  • “How Far I’ll Go” from ‘Moana’

Josh’s prediction: “How Far I’ll Go”
Actual Winner: “City of Stars”

For the complete list of winners, see the official Oscars web site.


      • He was indeed in last year’s reel, as was Alan Rickman (who also died in January of 2016). Next year, we’ll forget that John Hurt and Mary Tyler Moore were acknowledged this year. It will be interesting to see if Bill Paxton gets on the reel next year, as Jennifer Aniston’s mention this year may lead the Academy to think he’s already been honored.

  1. Chris B

    The best picture error was really more Dunaway’s fault than Beatty’s. If you watch the clip, he opens the card and reads it, then he shows it to Dunaway and kind of says “have a look…”. As in: “what do you think? Is this right? Etc”. She’s the one who blurted out “La La Land” and started the whole debacle.

    • Josh Zyber

      It seemed that Dunaway thought Beatty was making a joke by not reading the winner in order to drum up suspense, so she took the card and did it for him. Really, I don’t think either one of them was at fault, necessarily, but the proper thing to do would have been to state they think they were handed the wrong card and ask the producers to come check it. Of course, when you’re standing on stage with the lights blaring down and literally millions of people waiting for you to announce the winner, I can see why that may not have come to mind.

  2. cardpetree

    Also might have helped if I read your write up. I went straight to the results. I watched literally 3 minutes of the Oscars last night. I flipped it on right before I went to bed, actually thinking there was no way it was still on because of how late it was. They announced La La Land and I proceeded to go to La La Land myself. What an epic mistake. I’d say Steve Harvey has been avenged.

    • Josh Zyber

      The beauty contest screw-up was purely Steve Harvey’s fault and nobody else’s. In this case, Beatty and Dunaway had a legitimate excuse for their error, though I’m sure they’ll still take a lot of heat for it.

      • Timcharger

        Price Waterhouse Coopers has apologized about their mistake.

        Which begs the question, why print up 2 or multiple copies of Best Actress (and other categories I assume) envelopes? Printing up multiple copies allows for this possibility of a mix-up. Having backup duplicates would make sense, IF they are kept in separate suitcases, so there would be no reason for the PWC employee to open the backup suitcase.

        • Because presenters come on stage from both the left side and the right side during the show. You’d either have someone running back and forth or risk having the envelope on one side while the presenter was on the other side.

          • Timcharger

            The envelopes are sealed. Does it really matter if the presenter is given the envelope 5-10 minutes before, instead of right before they enter the stage? Plenty of time for stagehands to deliver to either side.

            And giant font of the category on the outside of the envelope. Next year, we will see plenty of presenters double checking the correct category label on the envelope.

  3. Timcharger

    Josh: “In my opinion, the most obnoxious moment of the evening came when Lin-Manuel Miranda added a new rap intro segment to the performance of song nominee “How Far I’ll Go” just so that he’d have an excuse to appear on stage.”

    That’s one possibility. Or would it more likely be the possibility, that the Oscar production staff would want to capitalize on the wild success of Hamilton and have its star appear on stage of their broadcast, instead of only the less-known 16 year old singer? Seems like you need strong inside information to hold that opinion of yours.

    • Timcharger

      I’m going to write it out…

      Paxton, Hollywood. You hear that, Hollywood? It was Paxton, not Pullman. Don’t put Pullman’s pic in the slideshow next year.

      Stop laughing. It had to be said.

      • Josh Zyber

        It’s only March, Tim. With the rate at which celebrities are keeling over lately, Bill Pullman would be wise to get a thorough doctor checkup ASAP lest he really wind up in next year’s montage.

  4. Trond Michelsen

    My favorite instance of an award being given to the wrong winner, happened at a Norwegian music awards show.

    In the category for Best Hard Rock Band, the three nominees were two Death Metal bands, with absolutely no sense of self-deprecation whatsoever (“Dimmu Borgir” and “The Kovenant”, and one humorous hard rock band, called Black Debbath.

    The presenter of the award happened to be a long time friend of the members of Black Debbath, so he announced Black Debbath as the winners, even though The Kovenant had actually won. Black Debbath rushed to the stage, gave a very short speech (“To our fellow nominees, who thought it was a joke when we were nominated: Where is Satan, when you need him the most?”), and ran off with the award.

    The members of The Kovenant were not amused.

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