So … Warren Beatty was looking, and stalling, looking and stalling — and then he hands the card and envelope off to Faye Dunaway and leaves her to say “La La Land!” Big cheers, the La La Land crew takes the stage, there’s commotion in the wings and backstage and then the producers from La La Land stop the show and announce Moonlight is the winner for the Oscar for Best Picture. What?
As a friend wrote on Facebook, “What just happened? La La Moonlight land?”
Something like that. Warren Beatty said, “I was not trying to be funny.” That’s usually the best kind of comedy.
First thought: Jimmy Kimmel is really messing with not only the crowd, but the people who made those two films, which would be a terrible joke to play on them. So, no, the directors and producers of the Oscars wouldn’t allow such a thing.
But on the other hand they let the faux feud between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon go on way too long. It finally forced me out of the room when Kimmel was under the stage leading the orchestra playing Damon off the stage.
Then there was the Steve Harvey moment at the Miss Universe contest … what the hell happened? The most choreographed awards show on the planet and they have such a … calling it a mistake is such an understatement … it was as unreal a moment as we’ve seen on television in decades.
Well maybe only four months. It seemed pretty unreal the night of November 8 when the orange Don won the Electoral College vote for president.
So, someone handed Warren Beatty the wrong envelope. All is good in La La Land. Even the film did well, taking home six awards, including Best Actress for Emma Stone and Best Director to Damien Chazell.
As usual, the “In Memoriam” segment was emotional, all the more so because it started with a tribute to actor Bill Paxton, who died suddenly on Saturday after complications from surgery. I never did get a chance to see his new TV show, Training Day. Bill will be missed by all.
The segment ended with a farewell to Debbie Reynolds and then Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. If you had a dry eye after that you’re a heartless monster.
At first I thought this would be a paean to all the artists that roasted President Trump, but for the first hour or so it was just host Jimmy Kimmel delivering Trump Jokes. “I want to say thank you to Mr. Trump. Remember last year when the Oscars were considered racist? That’s done, thanks to him.”
“This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us, and I think that is amazing.”
“We’re at the Oscars, the Academy awards. You’re nominated, you got to come, your families are nominated, your friends. Some of you will get to come up on this stage tonight and give a speech that the President of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow, and I think that’s pretty darn excellent.”
“If there’s anyone here from CNN, or the L.A. or New York Times — if you work for anything with the word ‘Times’ in it, even Medieval Times — I’d like to ask you to leave the building right now. We have no tolerance for fake news. Fake tans, we love.”
And then in response to Trump’s criticism of Meryl Streep after the Golden Globes: “We are here tonight to honor great actors, but we’re also here to honor the actors who seem great, but actually really aren’t. Of all the ‘great’ actors here in Hollywood, one in particular has stood the test of time for her many uninspiring and overrated performances.”
Kimmel rattled off a few of her award-winning films, including The Deer Hunter and finished that quip with, “Meryl Streep has phoned it in for more than 50 films over the course of her lackluster career.”
Kimmel then had the audience stand and give Meryl Streep, undoubtedly the best actor of our time — man or woman — a well deserved standing ovation.
And the final jab at Trump at the expense of Streep: “Nice dress. Is that an Ivanka?”
The tourists came through, snapping selfies and talking with the stars in the front rows, Kimmel putting actors and tourists on the spot. Then there was the candy falling from the ceiling — Red Vines, one of my favorites included.
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi didn’t attend this year, in solidarity with all the immigrants and refugees turned away by the Muslim ban, had a friend read a statement: “It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for a second time. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight, my absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war, these wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others, an empathy that we need today more than ever.”
Gael García Bernal was presenting the award for Best Animated Feature Film with Hailee Steinfeld and made his statement: “Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers; we travel all over the world, we build families, we construct stories, we build life that cannot be divided. As a Mexican, as a Latin-American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that wants to separate us.”
There were a few other anti-Trump moments at the Oscars, but for someone looking for a full-on verbal assault on the Tweeter-in-Chief, it was a little disappointing. Another surprise: no tweet storm from President Trump concerning the Oscars. He was hosting a dinner for governors at the White House as the Oscars were plowing through the evening on ABC. But no tweets this morning either.
When we catalogue everything President Trump has said or done just this month, less than 40 days into his administration, he is ripe for a lot more mockery. There was the Muslim ban that was shot down in the courts, his endless display of 5 a.m. bowel movement tweets, the revelations from the intelligence community that members of the Trump Campaign (some of whom are in his administration) were possibly colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton, going to war against the American media — last week Trump banned CNN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations from a press briefing.
There was the rambling 74-minute press conference where he claimed the leaking of news was real, but the news being leaked, i.e. Trump’s secret dealings with Russia, was fake news.
That press conference alone was a treasure trove of President Trump’s stupidity, from Trump thinking African-American reporter April Ryan knew the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and could set up a meeting between the White House and the CBC. Apparently the president didn’t know he could have one of his staffers get on the phone and set up a meeting with the CBC directly.
And we can’t forget his national security advisor Michael Flynn having to resign after it was confirmed he spoke about the sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador back in December.
Then the number of times his cabinet level appointees contradicting the president on several issues, like Secretary of Defense James Mattis: “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.” Or Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos opposing Trump’s edict to roll back protections for transgender students … wait, are we being punked? Apparently not. It seems Trump told DeVos to get on board or tender her resignation.
The Oscars show was a big deal, for many reasons, not the least of which was the diversity of the nominees and winners. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the company that tallies all the votes and keeps them until Oscars night, issued an apology for the Best Picture snafu:
We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.
We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”
But now we are back to reality and that is Donald Trump is still the president. Some say the greatest crisis brewing are the ties between President Trump (and his staff) and Russia. But one can also make the case that the unremitting chaos, arrogance and bigotry of the Trump Administration poses a greater threat to America.
Top photo screen shot from YouTube All other photos by AMPAS unless otherwise noted
Top photo: Fred Berger, one of the producers from La La Land, holds up the card
that said Moonlight had won the Best Picture award