Moonlight beats La La Land in the biggest blundering upset in Oscar History and the top ten moments from the 2017 Academy Awards

The original storyline wasn’t even going to be if LA LA LAND would win but rather how much LA LA LAND would win. Boy has that headline changed. For the record, I found both MOONLIGHT and LA LA LAND to be quite good, along with fellow nominees HACKSAW RIDGE, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, HELL OR HIGH WATER, LION, and ARRIVAL. All are deserving wins for this year but, in my unpopular opinion, also lesser films than winners of years past.  The good, the bad and the upsets, here are the top ten moments of the very exciting 2017 Academy Awards.

Honorable Mention: If everyone is predicting an upset is it an upset if the upset doesn’t happen? – Despite assault accusations, frontrunner Casey Affleck wins Best Actor for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. This was somewhat of a surprise since most people (including me) were picking Denzel Washington to win for FENCES. For the record, I thought Casey had the best performance of the year and his win was well-deserved. Denzel’s sad face will have to be comforted by his two Oscar’s at home. I was also thrilled to see MANCHESTER BY THE SEA take home Best Original Screenplay.

Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges in Manchester By The Sea

Dishonorable Mention: I see living people – The late costume designer Janet Patterson (THE PIANO, THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY) was included in the Memoriam. Unfortunately the photo used was of Jan Chapman – a very much alive film producer.

10.  “Can’t Stop The Feeling” – …that Justin Timberlake should be hosting award shows. Timberlake opens the show with his Oscar nominated summer hit from TROLLS. His high energy song and dance not only kicked the show off on the right foot but also proved that Timberlake has that sunshine in his pocket as a potential host for the near future.

9. Bus Stop – Strangers wander through the front row of the Oscars. Kimmel set it up so that one of those L.A. tour busses that drive by celebrity houses would make a stop at the Oscars unbeknownst to the passengers.  I truly thought this was going to be a train bus wreck. But to my surprise seeing their excitement and impromptu reactions were really quite infectious.  Gosling whispered sweet nothings into someone’s ear and Denzel performed a marriage lickety split.

8. Sci-Tech Awards – How cool was this? Hosts Leslie Mann and John Cho were easily the funniest presenters of the night. And the clips from the “ super secret ceremony” where famous people weren’t invited actually looked like the two continued the funny while presenting an award for some really neat technology (a life-like animatronic horse puppet and a computer program that combines real world and virtual motion on screen).

7. “You Up.” – Jimmy Kimmel did pretty well. Not all his jokes were hits (I wasn’t a fan of the “nobody saw your movie” punch lines or candy dropping from the sky) but a lot of his bits mostly worked. His mean tweets are consistent and his tweet to President Trump was the perfect blend of playful political jab without getting too ugly or preachy.  His other hit line: “Remember when we all thought last year’s Oscars were racists? This year we have black people saving NASA and white people saving Jazz.”

6. It’s not sweat, it’s inspiration – As the theme of the Oscars, some actors presented with the actor that inspired them. Sweet and humorous montages talking about the performance that inspired them paired Charlize Theron admiring Shirley MacLaine for THE APARTMENT, Javier Bardem admiring Meryl Streep for BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, and, my personal favorite, Seth Rogen admiring Michael J. Fox in BACK TO THE FUTURE.


5. “How Far I’ll Go” – Very far. The real life MOANA, 16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho, performed her Oscar nominated song from the Disney film and absolutely crushed it.  I loved everything about it.  From Kimmel’s throw to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“…former wrestler who is the highest paid actor in the world. Kind of puts this all in perspective, doesn’t it?”). Then The Rock’s playful throw to Lin Manuel Miranda. Then Miranda’s rap intro to set the scene of a beautiful and colorful production as young Cravalho gave the best performance of the night. She even kept her cool when a background dancer knocked her with the sheet prop.  I confess, my 2-year-old daughter may be a large influence for my love of this entire number, but it was spectacular.

4. The Damon/Kimmel feud – The long running joke of Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel hating each other was amped up a bit in some of the night’s funniest moments.   Kimmel putting Damon on blast for WE BOUGHT A ZOO and THE GREAT WALL, Damon tripping Kimmel as he walks through the aisle, and Kimmel using the band to play Damon off when he’s trying to present.  I only wish there were more moments with them.

Mahershala Ali in Moonlight

3. There’s a first time for everything
a. Mahershala Ali (MOONLIGHT) is the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award.
b. Damien Chazelle (LA LA LAND) is the youngest director at 32 to win an Academy Award.
c. MOONLIGHT is the lowest-budgeted Best Picture winner (adjusted for inflation).
d. MOONLIGHT is the first all-African-American cast film to win Best Picture.
e. MOONLIGHT is the first LGBTQ themed film to win Best Picture.
f. LA LA LAND is the first film with fourteen nominations to not win Best Picture.  (The two that did were ALL ABOUT EVE and TITANIC).

2. Biggest upset in Oscar history? – There were a handful of surprises that many may not have noticed before the big one. See if you can spot the common thread.

Hair/Makeup: SUICIDE SQUAD beats STAR TREK BEYOND (Nothing in common, that was just odd)
Sound Editing: ARRIVAL beats LA LA LAND
Sound Mixing: HACKSAW RIDGE beats LA LA LAND (An award that nearly always goes to a musical)
Editing: HACKSAW RIDGE beats LA LA LAND (An award that often leans toward the Best Picture winner)
Best Picture: MOONLIGHT beats LA LA LAND

Ultimately LA LA LAND won the most awards with 6 total (Director, Actress, Cinematography, Score, Song, Production), which it should be very proud of. But after tying the all-time record of fourteen nominations with ALL ABOUT EVE and TITANIC, its new record as the only Best Picture loser has to be quite disappointing for the film. Congratulations to MOONLIGHT, which won three awards (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Supporting Actor). I can’t speak much on before my time, but I remember being genuinely shocked at SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE beating SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and CRASH beating BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, but MOONLIGHT beating massive frontrunner LA LA LAND might take the crown. Regardless if you think MOONLIGHT totally deserved it, LA LA LAND was a high odds on favorite.

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone in La La Land

1. Biggest blunder in Oscar History? – Yes. In an embarrassing mistake, the wrong film for Best Picture was initially announced.  It just so happened that the wrong film announced, LA LA LAND, was also the major frontrunner. After a couple of minutes into speeches, we are able to see a stagehand walking around trying to figure out how they got the wrong card. Thankfully, LA LA LAND producer Jordan Horowitz took control of the situation once he figured out they hadn’t won.  He grabbed the correct card, said there was a mistake, and told MOONLIGHT he was proud to give the award to them.  Does anyone else find it ironic that the first entire African-American film to win, had to wait until a “white savior” announced there was a mistake?

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