HOLLYWOOD: Coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” won the coveted best picture statuette at the Oscars Sunday night (Monday morning in Manila), but the evening ended in chaos as “La La Land” – already the winner of six prizes – was first mistakenly handed the award.
Until the final minute, the film industry’s biggest night had run smoothly, and was marked by plenty of political statements, mainly jabs at President Donald Trump, and light-hearted jokes from host Jimmy Kimmel.
But the epic stumble on the final award was the nightmare Hollywood ending no one wanted to see.
Tinseltown legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, stars of 1967 crime classic “Bonnie and Clyde,” were meant to give the best picture Oscar to Barry Jenkins’s film, but she mistakenly called it for Damien Chazelle’s musical.
Scenes of confusion and embarrassment followed after the “La La Land” crew – already on stage and delivering speeches – suddenly realized the mistake and announced themselves that “Moonlight” had actually won, prompting Beatty to mumble apologies.
The Oscar-winning veteran actor and director, 79, said he’d been given the wrong envelope – the one containing the card announcing “La La Land” star Emma Stone’s best actress win.
Stone said backstage she had been hanging on to her winning envelope the whole time, although slowed-down footage of the commotion appeared to corroborate Beatty’s explanation.
Several reports suggested that two sets of envelopes are typically on site during the ceremony – one on either side of the stage.
“This was confusing, obviously, so… we thought he was being coy and cute and milking it but, in reality, he was perplexed by why her name was on it,” host Jimmy Kimmel told ABC after the show.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm responsible for tabulating Oscar ballots, apologized for an “error” in the announcement of the best picture award.
“Moonlight” was a shock winner for best picture, after Chazelle’s runaway favorite “La La Land” – a modern take on the all-singing, all-dancing Golden Age of Tinseltown’s studio system – had taken six prizes for best director, actress, score, song, production design and cinematography.
“I noticed the commotion and thought something was strange. And then I was speechless by the result,” Jenkins, who won earlier for best adapted screenplay, said backstage.
“I’ve watched the Academy Awards before and have never seen that happen before.”
Starring Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali – who bagged the first of the movie’s three Oscars – “Moonlight” tells the life story of a young African-American struggling to find his place as he grows up poor in Miami.