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Oscars 2017 – Trump, diversity and a goof up; Moonlight wins Best Picture over La La Land

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 27 February 2017, 14:28 IST

The whole world was shocked as Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, stars of 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde, read out La La Land as Best Picture. It took a few minutes before they realised that the actual Best Picture winner was Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.

The La La Land winners were gracious enough to announce Moonlight as winners and hand over the golden statues to their friends. This was a huge upset for them, made even more shocking by the mix-up.

"This is not a joke, Moonlight has won best picture, " Justin Horowitz said to a confused audience. "Moonlight. Best picture."

“I blame myself,” Jimmy Kimmel told the crowd. The gaffe barely felt appropriate despite it being a night full of Trump-bashing and many silly moments.

Team Moonlight was as shaken up as everyone else. Perhaps more so. “Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true,” Jenkins said after accepting the award. “But to hell with dreams! I’m done with it. This is true.”

Backstage, Best Actress winner Emma Stone had this to say: "I also was holding my Best Actress in a Leading Role card that entire time. So whatever story that was, I had that card. So I'm not sure what happened and I really wanted to talk to you guys first."

Here’s what Barry Jenkins had to say backstage:

Unsurprisingly, this mix-up broke the internet, with people comparing it to the US Presidential elections that took place in November of 2016. Except here, diversity trumped popular culture.

After its debut at the Telluride Film Festival last fall, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight became a darling of film critics, and later the Oscar voters. The movie is about growing up in America as a young queer black man in Miami.

Another pathbreaking win was Mahershala Ali's, who not only was the first awardee of the night, but also the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. Ali won Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Juan – Chiron’s mentor - in Moonlight. Moonlight also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Leading the night with 14 nominations (tying the record), 21st century musical, La La Land, returned home with just six awards – Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Score, Best Original Song, Best Actress and Best Director – being upset in Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. The night was devoid of any other major upsets.

Host Jimmy Kimmel prepped his monologue and many other moments of the night with political jabs at United States President Donald Trump. “Thank you, President Trump,” Kimmel said in his opening monologue. “Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him.” Kimmel even tweeted to Trump, who unsurprisingly didn't respond.

Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of The Salesman, winner of Best Foreign Film Oscar, said in a statement read out on stage that the reason he boycotted the Oscars was because he was in solidarity with those affected by President Trump’s ‘Muslim travel ban’. “Dividing the world into the ‘us and enemies’ categories creates fear,” said Farhadi.

Farhadi wasn’t the only one boycotting/not allowed into the United States. Documentary The White Helmets' Syrian cinematographer, Khaled Khateeb, was also barred entry into the USA according to the Associated Press. The film is about volunteer rescue workers in war-torn Syria.

The Salesman and The White Helmets were the first Oscar wins for Amazon and Netflix respectively. Amazon’s Manchester By The Sea” also won Best Supporting Actor for Casey Affleck and Best Original Screenplay for Kenneth Lonergan.

In the acting awards, other than Ali, there was another diversity win in the Best Supporting Actress category. Viola Davis bagged the award for her flawless performance in Fences. With this win, Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy, Tony and the Academy Award for the same role. Ali and Davis were two of the six black actors nominated. This is a far cry from two years ago when people of colour were completely snubbed. That year, #OscarsSoWhite trended. This year it was #OscarsSoRight.

Ali and Davis were two of the six black actors nominated. This is a far cry from two years ago when people of colour were completely snubbed. Within two years, we've fortunately gone from #OscarsSoWhite to #OscarsSoRight.

Here are some facts from this year's Oscars

  • Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an acting award
  • Sound mixer Kevin O'Connell won after a record 21 nominations. 21st time lucky. He won for his work in Mel Gibson’s World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge.
  • Viola Davis became the first black woman to receive the triple crown of actor – Emmy, Tony and Oscar.
  • Damien Chazelle, at 32 years of age, is the youngest ever Best Director winner.
  • O.J.: Made in America is the longest film to ever – 467-minutes long - win an Academy Award. It won Best Documentary Feature.
  • Made for only $1.5 million, Moonlight is the lowest-budgeted film to win Best Picture, adjusted for inflation.

Full list of winners at the 89th Academy Awards

  • Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Makeup and Hairstyling: Suicide Squad
  • Costume Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made In America
  • Sound Editing: Arrival
  • Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge
  • Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis, Fences
  • Foreign Language Film: The Salesman, Iran
  • Short Film (Animated): Piper
  • Animated Feature Film: Zootopia
  • Production Design: La La Land
  • Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
  • Film Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
  • Documentary Short: The White Helmets
  • Live Action Short: Sing
  • Cinematography: La La Land
  • Music (Original Score): La La Land
  • Music (Original Song): "City of Stars" from La La Land
  • Writing (Original Screenplay): Manchester by the Sea
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Moonlight
  • Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Actor in a Leading Role: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
  • Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Best Picture: Moonlight
First published: 27 February 2017, 12:47 IST
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.