2016 was a very strange year, both for movies and in general, one that can only be summed by the super awkward final moments of the ceremony last night when it came time to announce Best Picture.
For those of you who may for some reason not yet know, when it came time to announce the winner of the big category, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway came up to the stage with the envelope in hand. But what Warren didn't realize is that he actually had the envelope for Best ACTRESS, not Best Picture. Therefore, when he opened it up, it read "Emma Stone- La La Land." He looked confused, thus handed it over to Faye out of embarrassment. So she went ahead and announced the name she saw on the card, and the entire cast and crew of La La Land came up and started their acceptance speech.
Then suddenly, all activity was stopped, with the real Best Picture envelope coming out on stage, announcing that it was actually Moonlight that won Best Picture, not La La Land. So after this very flabbergasted moment from the whole house, the mostly-White cast and crew of La La Land was replaced with the mostly-Black cast and crew of Moonlight (symbolic, much?) for a proper acceptance speech. Since then, social media has exploded over this event, making Steve Harvey a well-deserved break for once.
I know, first Miss Universe, now the Oscars, what could possibly happen next?
But nonetheless, this still turned out to be a darn good ceremony. Jimmy Kimmel was a much better host than the last couple of years, and his tasteless humor was graciously kept to a minimum. Contrary to the fears of many people out there, the ceremony was not nearly as political as expected. Although a couple of acceptance speeches did sway on the unacceptable side, nothing tarnished the enjoyment of the whole ceremony. As a bonus, I found it hilarious when Jimmy sent out tweets to Trump seeing if he was really keeping track of the ceremony (whether if he was, the world will never know). I also got a real hoot out of the unexpected tourists who got a surprise visit to the front row of the ceremony- live!
Another highlight was when Jimmy went up to costar Sunny Pawar from Lion, and made a real life lion out of him by holding him up as if he were Simba.
As an extra side note, that In Memoriam segment pretty much tore me apart, especially considering they saved Carrie Fisher for the last slide. :(
But on a much brighter note, here I will talk about my favorite part of every ceremony: the winners!
Best Picture: Moonlight
Best Actor: Casey Affleck- Manchester by the Sea
Best Actress: Emma Stone- La La Land
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali- Moonlight
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis- Fences
Best Animated Feature: Zootopia
Best Cinematography: La La Land
Best Costume Design: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Best Directing: Damien Chazelle- La La Land
Best Documentary (Feature): O.J.: Made in America
Best Documentary (Short Subject): The White Helmets
Best Film Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Foreign Language Film: Iran- The Salesman
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Suicide Squad
Best Music (Original Score): La La Land
Best Music (Original Song): City of Stars- La La Land
Best Production Design: La La Land
Best Short Film (Animated): Piper
Best Short Film (Live Action): Sing (Mindenki)
Best Sound Editing: Arrival
Best Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Moonlight
Best Writing (Original Screenplay): Manchester by the Sea
Yes, you read this right. Suicide Squad is now officially an Oscar winning movie. The same movie that has a 26% rating on RottenTomatoes, and is nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards, now has more Oscars than the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (and Deadpool). But to be frank, the makeup job on the squad did look spectacular, especially considering the hours they must have spent each day painstakingly applying those tattoos. Not to mention the fact that they had to make Harley Quinn look girly, seductive, and maniacal all at once while still looking lovable, and the makeup artists simply pulled it off effortlessly!
The biggest shock for me out of all these nominations was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them's win for Best Costume Design. I personally wasn't as won over by these designs as I was by something like La La Land, but when considering that the designer had to recreate the 1920's while also making it look like a believable wizarding community, I can fully understand how others can see the value. It's just funny though, this spin-off of the Harry Potter series now has more Oscars than all eight of the movies.
I'm also pretty disappointed that the remarkable animated short Pearl lost to Pixar's Piper. I agree that it was cute and all, but considering the fact that Pearl told a complex story through a new, innovative form of entertainment (that is, virtual reality) in a way that is profoundly emotional, I still feel that the prize should have gone to that, instead of the adorable little bird's coming of age story. I honestly don't know what the Academy's criteria is in this category, it seems to change every year what type of short they want to reward.
I'd also like to point out that when The White Helmets was announced as the winner of Best Documentary Short, I was worried that the acceptance speech was going to be filled with all this hateful talk about Trump's immigration ban, considering that said ban prevented some of the crew from attending. But thankfully, there wasn't much mention of that. Whew!
Other than that, nothing else caught me by surprise or upset me (besides the mis-handing of the envelope), which leads into one thought I had by the end of the ceremony...
How did such a freak accident like that just happen? I mean, you'd figure SOMEONE would have known that Warren Beatty had the wrong envelope, right? If you ask me, I say it was secretly staged by a couple of the producers, as a way to publicly embarrass the White empowerment film, while also underwhelming the victory of the Black empowerment film. I'm not saying it's true, but this could very well be the conspiracy theory that best explains what happened and why.
But public embarrassment aside, an important lesson we can learn from the results is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would rather honor social importance over something about themselves.
What I mean is this: Everyone's been going on all awards season about how La La Land was going to win it all, including Best Picture. I mean, it had everything they loved, especially the subject matter that they can relate to. It also now holds the record of the most Golden Globe wins, and is tied with All About Eve and Titanic (both Best Picture winners) for the most total nominations. So how could it have possibly not won? Well, as it turns out, the Academy's not as self-indulgent as we assume. They do want to honor something that's socially important. They do care about the message a movie has to give to the world. They do prefer to honor story and craft over a love letter to themselves. But most importantly, the big decision is greatly influenced by the social problems of the previous year.
With all the hatred and angst that's been going on with the election and gun control, it seems like we're stepping into a new Jim Crow era that is steamed off political correctness. We now have 4-8 years ahead of us under a president with new ideas to protect our country, although many have found these ideas to be more divisive of our racial bonds and social correctness, especially considering Trump's repertoire of mocking other minority groups. Therefore, the Academy found it most appropriate to award a film that speaks to the struggles of self-identity to all those who are considered of the lowliest in our society. Everyone deserves to be loved and respected, whether Black, gay, or impoverished, and the art form of the motion picture has a tremendous responsibility to influence how we look at such groups of people. This is the key to what will help us through the 4-8 years ahead of us.
So therefore, I am happy with the Academy's decision to reward Moonlight with Best Motion Picture of 2016. I would have preferred either Manchester By the Sea or Hacksaw Ridge, but I have no complaints about this one. So now, here's to another great year at the movies!
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