The 89th Academy Awards are now in the books. With the ceremony came the usual glitz and glamor, along with some refreshingly irreverent humor courtesy of host Jimmy Kimmel and, finally, a twist-ending that not even M. Night Shyamalan could have written.
The night kicked off with Justin Timberlake giving a high-energy performance of “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” his chart-topping hit that was also a Best Original Song nominee as a part of DreamWorks’ “Trolls.”
From there, Kimmel took the reins, quickly making some jokes at Donald Trump’s expense and even adding in a moment of serious social reflection. Throughout the night, some of Kimmel’s hijinks included parachuting candy down from the ceiling, bringing an unsuspecting bus full of tourists into the Dolby Theater and mercilessly teasing Matt Damon.
As the awards began to flow, “Zootopia” won for Best Animated Feature, “The Jungle Book” took home the gold for Best Visual Effects, and “Suicide Squad” nabbed Best Makeup and Hairstyling. On the music front, “La La Land” – with 14 total nominations – killed the competition, taking Best Original Score and Best Original Song with “City of Stars.”
Moving into some of the night’s bigger awards, Kenneth Lonergan won Best Original Screenplay for “Manchester by the Sea,” with Barry Jenkins taking the statue for Best Adapted Screenplay with “Moonlight,” the independent smash hit based on a play by former University of Miami professor Tarell McCraney. Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress were taken by Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and Viola Davis (“Fences”), respectively.
The drum rolls got louder as Casey Affleck took home a much-deserved win as Best Actor for his stellar performance as Lee Chandler in “Manchester by the Sea.” “La La Land” then proceeded to cement two more major victories, as Damien Chazelle grabbed the Best Director trophy, and Emma Stone emotionally accepted the honor for Best Actress.
After that is when things truly became interesting. As Warren Beatty opened the envelope and pulled out the name of the Best Picture winner, he hesitated, drawing some laughs at the apparent joke, before handing over the card to Faye Dunaway, who announced that “La La Land” was officially this year’s biggest winner.
The ear-to-ear grins of the film’s cast and crew quickly faded halfway through their acceptance speech, as the racing around of men in headsets on stage quickly indicated that something was very wrong. It was soon made clear that the wrong card had been read, with “Moonlight” being the true winner – a whole lot of emphasis then placed on the fact that this was not another joke.
Kimmel managed to make light of the unprecedented situation as best he could, as the awkwardness of the situation somewhat faded away in the glow of the overjoyed “Moonlight “team. It was a hard loss for “La La Land,” and a bittersweet victory for “Moonlight” but, above all, it was a hell of an ending to this year’s Oscars.