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Monday, February 27, 2017

The La La Moonlight Surprise Oscars

Since most of the drama of last night's 89th Annual Academy Awards happened at the end of the evening, I'm going to offer my observations and opinions in reverse, beginning with the chaotic finale:

Now we all know who's to blame - the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who gave presenter Warren Beatty the wrong envelope for Best Picture. Poor Mr. Beatty was obviously confused when he opened the envelope, and when he finally showed it to his co-presenter, Faye Dunaway (who looked great), she saw La La Land and announced it to the world. Ms. Dunaway and everyone else just thought Beatty was being a big tease with his long pause. Anyway, I feel sorry for the producers of both La La Land and Moonlight - the former got their Oscars ripped from their hands, while the latter's special moment in the spotlight was dampened by the unfortunate mishap.

Also, I agree with those who have pointed out that the Best Picture snafu was very La La Land, which features a dream sequence happy ending. It is very weird and sad that the film's producers briefly experienced their own fake happy ending in front of 32 million people.

As for Beatty and Dunaway - whose film, Bonnie and Clyde, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year - it was wonderful to see them together again. And after an evening of endless young faces as presenters, it was quite refreshing to finally see some Hollywood legends on the stage (I will also add Mr. Beatty's sister, Shirley MacLaine, and, of course, Meryl Streep to this underrepresented category).

In addition to Best Picture, Moonlight won Best Adapted Screenplay, and below you can watch a backstage interview with director/co-screenwriter Barry Jenkins, co-screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney and two of the film's producers.

I'm happy that Emma Stone won Best Actress for her lovely performance in La La Land - but I still think Warren Beatty's wife, Annette Bening, was robbed of a Best Actress nomination for her fabulous work in 20th Century Women. Below is Ms. Stone's backstage interview.

Casey Affleck won Best Actor for his performance in Manchester by the Sea, whose director, Kenneth Lonergan, received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Below is their backstage interview.

32-year-old Damien Chazelle became the youngest Best Director winner in Oscar history for his film, La La Land.

The best musical performance of the evening was Sara Bareilles' beautiful rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides, Now" during the In Memoriam tribute.

The most enthusiastic and joyful speech of the evening goes to 31-year-old Benj Pasek, who wrote the lyrics - with Justin Paul - for the Best Original Song, La La Land's "City of Stars" (Justin Hurwitz wrote the music and also received an Oscar for Best Original Score). Below is their backstage interview.

For those of you who just can't get enough of the Tony Award-winning musical, Hamilton, presenter Seth Rogen sang a few lines from "The Schuyler Sisters" before handing out the Best Film Editing Award to Hacksaw Ridge.

I must give kudos to Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (who won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman) for boycotting the awards over the deplorable immigration ban. Good for him!

Everyone and their mother gets a standing ovation nowadays - but presenter Shirley MacLaine certainly deserved hers.

Best Retro TV Reference goes to host Jimmy Kimmel, who mentioned the 1982-88 NBC drama, St. Elsewhere, in which Denzel Washington played a doctor.

Viola Davis gave an emotional and heartfelt acceptance speech - and my favorite of the night - when she won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Fences. Below is her backstage interview.

Kudos to 16-year-old Auli'i Cravalho, who wasn't even fazed when she was hit in the head by a flag while performing "How Far I'll Go" from Moana.

It was nice that 98-year-old Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the film, Hidden Figures, made an appearance as Ms. Henson and her co-stars presented the Best Documentary Feature.

Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar for his performance in Moonlight - and I liked that he took the time on his way up to the stage to shake Jeff Bridges' hand. Below is his backstage interview.

As for Mr. Kimmel's performance, I give him a grade of A for entertaining us with candy, cookies and donuts falling from the sky, an amusing bus tour of starstruck movie fans, and a hilarious tribute to Matt Damon's 2011 film, We Bought a Zoo.

And that, folks, is my review (click here for a complete list of the winners). I didn't do that great with my predictions - correctly selecting only 12 out of the 24 categories. But none of my predictions won in this year's Razzie Awards, which were announced on February 25. Below are the "lucky" Razzie winners:

Worst Picture: Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
Worst Actor: Dinesh D’Souza (as Himself) in Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
Worst Actress: Becky Turner (as Hillary Clinton) in Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
Worst Supporting Actor: Jesse Eisenberg in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Worst Supporting Actress: Kristen Wiig in Zoolander No. 2
Worst Director: Dinesh D’Souza and Bruce Schooley for Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
Worst Screen Combo: Ben Affleck & His BFF (Baddest Foe Forever) Henry Cavill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Worst Screenplay: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Razzie Redeemer Award: 2014 Worst Supporting Actor nominee Mel Gibson (The Expendables 3) for his Oscar-nominated direction of Hacksaw Ridge

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