The Show:The 89th Academy Awards
The Moment: The epic fail
Best Picture presenter Warren Beatty opens the envelope. He reads the card. He squints. He looks in the envelope for another card. He looks at his co-presenter, Faye Dunaway. He says, “And the Academy Award” and stops, looking offstage. “You’re awful,” Dunaway says. He holds the card out to her. She only glances at it. “La La Land,” she says.
The music plays, the La La team hugs. Producer Jordan Horowitz makes his speech. As producer Marc Platt makes his, people in headsets dart around in the background. Faces fall.
Horowitz charges the mic. “I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake,” he says. “Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture.” Gasps from the audience. “This is not a joke.” He holds up the card. “Moonlight. Best Picture.”
Hubbub. “Warren,” host Jimmy Kimmel wails, “what did you do?”
We know what Beatty should have done: “I’m sorry, I seem to have the wrong envelope.” Instead, he gave us a metaphor so literal if it was a movie you’d throw popcorn at the screen.
The walking embodiment of old Hollywood and white privilege, frozen in bewilderment, allows a cadre of white males to think they’ve won for a lighthearted confection about cute white dreamers in L.A. And then we all watch as they physically transfer the statuette to a female producer and a black director for their intimate movie about a black gay man.
“I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight,” Horowitz said gracefully. Speaking for humankind? We can only dream.
The Academy Awards aired on CTV and ABC. Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop culture moments. She usually appears Monday through Thursday.
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