The real winner at the Oscars last night was classiness. Oh no, wait, sorry, it was douchiness
As movie twists go, last night's Oscars was one that no one saw coming.
By now you should know that hit musical La La Land won the Academy Award for Best Picture. For about two minutes.
It soon transpired that the mother of all cock-ups had taken place, and that coming-of-age drama Moonlight had actually won the award.
Presenter Warren Beatty had been given the wrong card, bearing the words 'La La Land' and - confusingly - 'Emma Stone'. Evidently there had been some kind of mix-up between the Best Picture and Best Actress categories, fooling PricewaterhouseCoopers' supposedly fool-proof system.
It was embarrassing, mainly for PwC and Warren Beatty, who let co-presenter Faye Dunaway take the bullet and announce La La Land as the winner, thereby sparking the biggest Oscars disaster since hiring James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host in 2011. But the people accepting - and then suddenly losing - the award were not in the least bit embarrassed.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 27, 2017
After realising there was a mistake, La La Land executive producer Jordan Horowitz went up to the microphone: "Moonlight won,” he said. “Guys, guys, I’m sorry, no. There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture.” No one in the audience was really sure what was going on.
“This is not a joke,” Horowitz said. “Come up here,” motioning the Moonlight team to come up and collect the award that was rightfully theirs. Amongst the confusion and red faces, Horowitz stepped up and did the honourable, adult thing: graciously losing the award to Moonlight.
“I’m going to be really thrilled to hand this to my friends from Moonlight,” the producer replied after host Jimmy Kimmel said he wished both films could win. It wasn't a remarkable act, but in what must have been a highly emotional moment, when a lot of the people on stage looked like they'd rather be 10ft deep in a hole, someone did the right thing.
In return, the Moonlight team were equally elegant. As writer/director Barry Jenkins took the stage, he said: "I have to say - and it is true, it’s not fake - we’ve been on the road with these guys for so long, and that was so gracious, so generous of them. My love to La La Land, my love to everybody."
Producer Adele Romanski began to say that it was "so humbling to be standing up here with, hopefully, still the La La Land crew," but they'd already exited to give Moonlight the stage and its moment. Later, Jenkins would tweet: "Jordan Horowitz. Wow. I'm slipping slowly into reflection, perspective. Much respect to that dude."
La La Land and Moonlight had been pitted against each other for the last few furlongs of the Oscars race, with a backlash against the former so preposterously out of proportion that it defied any kind of sense. This moment, with both films sharing the biggest stage in the business, and both sets of filmmakers showing each other such generosity, felt like validation for all concerned, though importantly, Moonlight still won.
Of course, nothing good in this world can last for more than a minute, so in came Jimmy Kimmel to douche it all up. Kimmel, the lesser-known but generally funnier of the two late night Jimmys, had been on good form that night. He had a strong opening monologue, getting in a few jibes at his nemesis Matt Damon and taking a moment to celebrate the "overrated" Meryl Streep.
Unfortunately, a few of his gags left a nasty taste in the mouth for some, particularly when he made fun of Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali's name, along with a surprised Asian tourist whose name he couldn't figure out. She was followed by a Patrick. “See, that’s a name,” Kimmel quipped. Western names, good. Ethnic names, whaaaa? This doesn't even have to be about political correctness - it's just lame.
But at the end of the night, during the Best Picture debacle, Kimmel said to the La La Land producers, "I think you guys should keep it anyway." Now to be fair to him, as host of the show it was Jimmy's responsibility to make it as smooth as possible, so he tried to keep things ticking along. Unfortunately, his suggestion that La La Land keep the award did not amuse hero of the night Jordan Horowitz.
It also failed to amuse a great many watching at home, with people criticising Kimmel for his off-hand but poorly chosen line. "Jimmy Kimmel saying 'you should keep it anyway' to the La La Land cast is peak white privilege," one person said, with another commenting that "if anyone has to be named schmuck of the evening it would be Jimmy Kimmel for suggesting La La Land keep the Oscar".
While Moonlight's victory and the collective graciousness in the face of error will be the things everyone remembers about this Oscars, it's a shame a few poorly chosen words had to sour the moment. But on the plus side, everyone can stop slagging off La La Land and go back to humming 'City of Stars' now.
All photos: Kevin Winter / Getty Images