So that happened.
After a month of predicting one of the more predictable Oscar nights in recent memory, instead we got ... whatever that fustercluck was, as "La La Land" won Best Picture – and then didn't. Instead, "Moonlight" came away with the top prize – though really, chaos reigned. Painfully awkward chaos. And also Sunny Pawar reigned, because he's just the best (Jacob Tremblay is SOOOO 2016).
Anyways, as a form of therapy to cope with whatever the heck just happened, here are the real winners and losers from last night's Oscars – though who even knows who really won anything. For all we know, "Sausage Party" technically swept the awards last night.
Loser: The Academy
But seriously: What. The. Hell. Happened. I wanted to see film and television history Sunday night ... but not like this. Not watching a monumental moment for "Moonlight" and the representation of marginalized people to become the second biggest story of the night behind the Oscars taking the gold, silver, bronze and pewter medals at the Awards Show Embarrassment Olympics (hosted by John Travolta).
Here's a quick glance at my flurry of emotions:
- "Oh, sweet senile Warren Beatty thinks he's being coy. You're still not convincing me 'Rules Don't Apply' was any good!"
- "OK, 'La La Land' won. That's fine. I'm fine with this. The world is fine."
- "Why's everyone looking over to the right? Is it because that guy wearing the headset is embarrassing everyone with his choice of accessory? Fair; headsets are not the best red carpet look."
- "You're giving your Oscars to 'Moonlight'? Well that's condescending – and not even original. We all saw Adele at the Grammys! #OscarsSoWhiteGuilt"
- "Wait ... this ACTUALLY happened? We Steve Harvey-ed all over the Oscars?! We Dewey Defeats Truman-ed all over this thing!?"
- "HOW DO I FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS RIGHT NOW!?"
And eight hours later, I still feel all the feelings: joyous, sad and – most of all – just plain confused.
Make no mistake, though: This was the bungling to end all bunglings.
After studying the Zapruder film of award shows, we now basically know what happened – Beatty was given the second Best Actress card instead of a Best Picture card – but no amount of analysis can undo the damage to what should've been a triumphant moment for "Moonlight," now awkwardly shared with "La La Land" (whose creators literally had their Oscars taken away from them on the stage) forever in history like the Patriots share its Super Bowl XXXVIII glory with Janet Jackson's nipple.
Their joy in the spotlight was instead confusion, questions afterward about what this award means now were about what the hell just happened. I'm sure Barry Jenkins (who at least got the Best Screenplay win to speak his words, rather than here where he was trying to sort through words and confusion) and the rest of the "Moonlight" producers spoke very lovely words accepting their Oscars. But they could've come up on stage and said "Hail Hydra," and nobody would know because nobody heard a word of their speeches. Their thoughts – about dreams, about winning for underrepresented people, about their families and journeys – were lost in the chaos.
A movie about marginalized people had its greatest success marginalized. Their ultimate moment of joyful achievement will now forever be shared with the (more-than-understandable) pain of "La La Land" – a movie where a white dude explains how jazz works. Not exactly the way the Academy imagined coming back from #OscarsSoWhite. They heard the Golden Globes get embarrassed about saying "Hidden Fences" a few times and responded with, "Hold my beer ..."
Winner: Warren Beatty
Beatty may take a beating in headlines for the next 24 hours, but time will show Beatty was doing his best to figure out something. Rewatching the video for the first of 5,714 times last night, Beatty's lame comedic stalling is now obviously, painfully him stalling out of confusion. He looks everywhere –literally everywhere – for help, for answers, for someone to realize what's happened.
And unfortunately for him, the last place his eyes went – co-presenter Faye Dunaway – most certainly did not realize it. Understandably; she thought Beatty was messing around and just read the most obvious thing on the card. And thus, the best worst history was made.
Yes, he could've just said, "I have the wrong card," but this was the ultimate moment of the ultimate night – and Beatty was suddenly left on an island doing improv. Right now, Kimmel jokingly yelling, "Warren, what did you do?!" may be echoing in Hollywood's ears, but time will pardon him, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Boy, wouldn't it be embarrassing if there was an interview with the people responsible for those cards posted just a few days ago in which they were asked what would happen if this very situation occurred? And if somebody was quoted as saying, "It's so unlikely," before probably becoming the shrug emoji made sentient?
As overshadowed as the moment may feel, let's not lose sight of what happened last night: An independent movie, about a poor gay black man, written and directed by black artists, that cost $1.5 million to make won Best Picture last night. 2016 may have been a terrible year for blockbusters, but it was a great year for smaller-scale fare – so it only seems fitting that its ultimate award would go to the pinnacle of that.
This is a monolithic moment – as well as a well-deserved one. "Moonlight" made a beautiful, haunting movie about a specific experience, without watering down or code-switching it for mass appeal, and made it feel utterly universa. And now they have Hollywood's ultimate award – plus awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay – as proof. It's an underdog victory for the ages – and hopefully a watershed moment for similar stories.
Loser: "La La Land"
"You don't get 14 nominations and not win Best Picture." Boy, it'd be embarrassing if somebody wrote THAT last week and said it multiple times on the radio and television. *awkwardly laughs, walks into Lake Michigan*
What was supposed to be a predictable night of coronation for Damien Chazelle's musical monster instead became a night of small success. Even pushing aside its devastating un-acceptance speech, "La La Land" was up for history – the most Oscars ever – and came away with just six. It seems the movie was just too small – for its big emotions, it's really just a two-person show – to maintain against the backlash. Its gum bubble finally popped – and we watched it happen right on stage as it happened. In fact, it reminds me of something ...
Winner: "La La Land" producers
Just in case you were starting to feel too bad for a movie that still got six Oscars (literally the most First World Problem ever), for one, a round of lifetime applause for producer Jordan Horowitz, who handled to most painful and painfully awkward moment probably possible and handled it with grace and tact – as well as a good sense of drama to show the card to the camera. I was all ready for the Worst Thing Ever when Kimmel said maybe everyone could get Oscars, just when you thought the moment for "Moonlight" couldn't get any more diluted, but Horowitz passed and graciously handed his Oscar over. It was a bad moment handled with great humanity.
Also: Horowitz will never have to buy a beer again. Also also: He could spend the rest of his career producing exclusively low-rent porn and YouTube haul videos, and still receive a Lifetime Achievement Oscar. No one will ever get closer to winning an Oscar but still come up short. HE GAVE AN ACCEPTANCE SPEECH; OSCARS WERE LITERALLY TAKEN OUT OF HANDS! So yeah, you'll owe him one, Academy.
Loser: La La Land thinkpiece writers
And sudden, a thousand thinkpieces about Hollywood's race problem, why they failed America and why "La La Land" is the worst Best Picture of all time died on the vine. Somewhere, all those writers are just getting plastered at a bar – possibly at the same bar all the sportswriters who wrote their "What the Falcons winning the Super Bowl means for America" got wasted.
Winner: "Suicide Squad"
Was this all just a ploy by the Academy to make us forget that they gave "Suicide Squad" an Oscar last night? Because if your goal was to make me space on the fact that this Hot Topic drug nightmare has more Oscars than Alfred Hitchcock and the same amount as Stanley Kubrick, you failed.
Loser: Casey Affleck
In what was surprisingly the tightest race of the night, Casey Affleck's painful turn in "Manchester by the Sea" beat out Denzel Washington in "Fences" for Best Actor. And going merely by the performances, he deserved it. But thanks to his allegations of sexual harassment, no one seemed happy about it. Not Brie Larson.
Not the rest of the winners.
Not the Oscar telecast, I'm sure, because Affleck's hobo-bearded acceptance mumbles were just as awkward as one could've predicted. And certainly not Denzel.
I've seen that look before, Casey. Run before you end up taped to car with a bomb exploding in your butt while Denzel walks away not looking back, all slow-motion and cool.
Winner: Viola Davis
After predictably but no less deservedly winning her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the "Fences" star delivered one last beautiful, thunderous yet immaculately worded speech on her month-long tour of tremendous speeches. I'd watch Viola Davis read the nutritional facts off a box of rice. I'd watch Viola Davis read my own death certificate and applaud with happy tears down my face. I'd watch "Suicide Squad" again ... actually, no, that's too far. I have my limits.
Loser: "Florence Foster Jenkins"
The clip choices throughout the night a mixed bag – though admittedly, I'll always be happy they show scenes again and actually show the viewers at home what we're paying tribute to. Davis's clip, for instance, was pleasantly not her snotty screed at Denzel, but unpleasantly a pretty big spoiler for "Fences." But no clip murdered its nominee like the Meryl Streep clip from "Florence Foster Jenkins." That scene was so bad and tortured, the Oscars retroactively took away her nomination and all of her other awards. Did Donald Trump get his hands on this telecast?
Winner: The first hour of the telecast
For about 60 minutes, I was all set to declare this one of the best Oscar telecasts in recent memory. Taking a page from the Grammys, the show felt like it was putting performances first, opening with a high-energy JT performance and continuing on with strong musical numbers and actually meaningful guests like Katherine Johnson of "Hidden Figures." Kimmel was a strong host, deftly jabbing the celebrity guests and making political digs but without someone like Gervais' cruel tone. And the bits and montages – such as the stars watching their most inspirational movies and performances – were actually touching and got to the art, as well as the craft, of film.
No doubt we were in for a good night.
Loser: The rest of the telecast
It was not a good night.
The show ran way too long; even if you're a conspiracy theorist saying the envelope screw-up was a set-up, pulling that at 11:38 p.m. isn't even worth it at that point. The smart montages grew to be too many. We eventually parachuted too many sugary snacks onto the audience, and Kimmel's once perfect tone got off the rails by the time he was making an O.J. joke he knew midway through was a bad idea and making fun of Mahershala Ali's name for the 41st time. Plus, nobody needed a just OK rendition of Mean Tweets to keep the night trucking into the wee hours of the night. The night dragged to the point that Kimmel's hilarious "We Bought a Zoo" Damon-troll to end all Damon-trolls felt like an irritating stall.
An easy way to fix this? Start the show at 7 p.m. again, please. Cut a half-hour off the Oscars, and sure, it still feels long, but maybe it's less ACTUALLY long.
Winner: John Cho and Leslie Mann
The "we hosted the science Oscars that are too boring for the real Oscars, and we're contractually obligated to tell you about it" presenters are typically one of the night's better bathroom break moments, but John Cho and Leslie Mann were delightful – to the point that people were thinking maybe they should host this thing. Then again, we all saw Anne Hathaway and James Franco try that out, so maybe just cast these two in a comedy together, and call it a day.
Loser: The tour bus bit
In case America wasn't divisive enough, we now have this thing to argue about. Some think it was charming; some think it was embarrassing.
Get ready for this #HotTake: It wasn't the worst!
The bit was already off to a rough start with the fact that all those people reacted to entering the hall as though they were texted 30 minutes ago by friends and family that this was happening. But then it turned into charming as they walked by famous people, gobsmacked and low-key delighted. And then it U-turned right into a wall when Kimmel offered up Mahershala Ali's newly won Oscar as a sacrificial photo op. Then the bit went on for three more weeks. But at least there was ...
Winner: Gary from Chicago and his wife
When the bit became about these two, it was television magic. And they had a great night. They got married off by Denzel! They met, like, so many famous people! She even became a meme!
That's a great meme! She will forever live as a meme – with Ryan Gosling! I knew I should've flown out to Los Angeles, skipped the Oscars and got tickets for a star tour. I've made poor life choices.
Loser: The In Memoriam
For about a year, we've been dreading the In Memoriam – but it was even worse than we could've imagined. Mainly because it killed someone.
Janet Patterson tragically died last October – but that's not Janet Patterson. That's producer Jan Chapman, who's very much alive. Meanwhile, Garry Shandling, Florence Henderson and Doris Roberts were all forgotten completely. Mistakes happen, but after the past year, everyone knew eyes would be glued to the In Memoriam, so this was an egregious flub. Though perhaps it was just foreshadowing for the rest of the night to come ...
Winner: Auli'i Cravalho
Imagine you're 16 years old. Imagine you're performing a song on the biggest stage in Hollywood, in front of America and every famous person you've probably ever admired (and also Mel Gibson is there). And imagine you get bonked in the head by an overzealous interpretive flag dancer. Now, if I'm in that scenario, I go full John Wick and just start stabbing every backup dancer with a snapped flag pole (or I crumple in embarrassment and cry on stage in a ball ... definitely the latter).
If you're "Moana" star Auli'i Cravalho, however, you march right on through and stick the landing, all while delighting the world. Get this girl in more movies.
Point: Sting's performance of the Oscar-nominated "The Empty Chair" from "Jim: The James Foley Story" was moving, poignant and gave a very strong documentary some extra time in the spotlight.
Winner: Milwaukee and Justin Hurwitz
"La La Land" may not have cleaned up the way it was supposed to, but Milwaukee's own Justin Hurtwitz, the songwriter and composer for the movie musical, certainly did. The Nicolet grad made Milwaukee proud, winning both Best Score and Best Original Song. So at least that went right.
Loser: Nicole Kidman
Has Nicole Kidman actually been going to awards shows for the past two decades without knowing how to clap?
I expect a full congressional investigational immediately. This is not normal. Do not normalize this.
Winner: Next year's Oscars
Someone could poop on stage next year, and people would still say, "Well, at least they didn't announce the wrong winner and then take their awards away on stage in front of America!" Congratulations, next year's host; the bar is set low, and your opening monologue is basically already written.
Congratulations everyone; we saw history last night. Weird, awkward, utterly f*cked up history. We'll be watching shots and analyzing clips and finding crazy photos from this insanity for years.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.