To Warren Beatty, things made as much sense as a purple ostrich crapping Toblerone when he opened the envelope for Best Picture to see Emma Stone’s name staring back at him.
Unfortunately, Faye Dunaway’s spider-sense wasn’t tingling quite enough to notice that the company counting the votes for the Oscars had mistakenly caused pandemonium by placing the wrong envelope in Beatty’s hand.
What came next, I had assumed was one of those Kanye-style awards ceremony outbursts about how Beyoncé, or in this case, Moonlight, was the real deserved winner of the gong. But, no, really “Moonlight has won best picture. This is not a joke” were the words of the La La Land producer holding an oscar not meant for him.
Regardless, the real mix up lies here:
Most feel that Best Picture is the award to win at the Oscars, and that sentiment is clearly mirrored by the Academy given that it’s always the last award of the night to be announced.
So it’s really important that they get it right. Get it right in the sense that you actually choose the right winner, I’m not just talking about handing the right envelope to Warren Beatty.
So, then. Moonlight… Best Picture… Let’s think about that in light of Damien Chazelle winning Best Director for La La Land.
Moonlight is broken up into three clearly defined sections that study a black man, Chiron, trying to understand his sexuality in a rough part of Miami. It even has three different actors playing the three distinct stages of Chiron’s life; childhood, teens, and adulthood.
The fluctuations and similarities of Chiron’s emotions and character through those three different actors of varying ages and experience is managed to such perfection that the result is a vastly sophisticated study of what it must be like to feel forced to bottle up feelings you don’t understand when you’re young and then find them festering when you come of age.
It was some startlingly good direction from the young writer-director Barry Jenkins. So good, that a lot of the film’s quality is due to his directorial vision.
But watching La La Land, what you see is a picture firing on all cylinders with everything from sound, cinematography, special effects, the score, acting, screenplay, and yes, the good direction, to deliver an experience that astounded the first audiences so much they wouldn’t shut up about how good it was.
We were sick of hearing praise for La La… long before the red carpet rolled out, almost like one of those number 1 singles that gets played so much it’s just not cool anymore.
But that’s just it, it is like one of those number 1 singles; when it comes on in the club, even the really snobby guy that listens to Finnish techno starts to tap their foot.
It was a floor filler in the film sense that encapsulated you on every level of filmmaking, Chazelle’s direction was just a small part of that.
That’s why it should have been Best Picture. And Moonlight, thanks to Jenkins, should have won Best Director.
Were the Oscars feeling #SoWhite from last year that they decided to give Best Film to the first black movie coming and throw Chazelle a consolation prize? Or were they just plain wrong?
Let’s hope it’s the second because to do otherwise would undermine the great work that is Moonlight. Plus, given that envelope slip up, I’d be more inclined to believe it was just another mistake in a line of others.
So Warren, whenever you review the footage and cringe at your confused face watching La La Land‘s crew pile on stage, don’t fret, because technically, you were right.
At least, I think so.