At 89th Oscars ceremony, Beatty blunders, but in the end ... ‘Moonlight’ eclipses


By Jake Coyle

AP Film Writer

LOS ANGELES

“Moonlight” has won best picture at the Academy Awards in a historic Oscar upset that followed Warren Beatty first reading the wrong winner.

Shock and chaos spread through the Dolby Theatre when producers of “La La Land” were stopped in the middle of their acceptance speeches to be informed that Beatty had incorrectly read “La La Land” as the winner.

Host Jimmy Kimmel came forward to inform the cast that “Moonlight” had indeed won, showing the envelope as proof.

Producer Jordan Horwitz then graciously passed his statue to the “Moonlight” producers.

“La La Land” won awards for best actress Emma Stone, its jazz-infused songs and its director, Damien Chazelle. The 32-year-old Chazelle became the youngest ever to win best director.

Protest, boycotts and rallies swirled around Sunday’s ceremony at the Dolby Theatre, hosted by ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel.

Best actor went to Casey Affleck, who edged out Denzel Washington.

The Jimmy Kimmel-hosted 89th Academy Awards seesawed between jabs at Donald Trump and passionate arguments for inclusivity.

Chazelle’s celebrated musical “La La Land,” up for a record-tying 14 nominations, took a while to start cleaning up. But as the night went on, its haul began piling up, winning for cinematography, production, score and song “City of Stars.”

“This was a movie about love, and I was luckily enough to fall in love while making it,” said Chazelle, speaking about his girlfriend and Oscars date, Olivia Hamilton.

Though many expected the awards to be one long parade for “La La Land,” it didn’t play out that way. Awards were spread around to “Moonlight,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Hacksaw Ridge,” among others.

Barry Jenkins, the writer-director of “Moonlight” and Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose play it was based on, won for adapted screenplay. “All you people out there who feel like there isn’t a mirror out there for you, the academy has your back, the ACLU has your back and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you,” said Jenkins.

The show kicked off with Justin Timberlake dancing down the Dolby Theatre aisles, singing his ebullient song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from the animated film “Trolls.” It was an early cue that the Oscars would steer, at least in part, toward festiveness rather than heavy-handedness. Protests, boycotts and rallies have swirled ahead of Sunday night’s Oscars. But host Kimmel, in his opening monologue, quickly acknowledged that he “was not that guy” to heal a divided America.

But he still, pointedly, led a standing ovation for the “overrated” Meryl Streep. He later tweaked the president by tweeting to him on air, including telling him that Streep “says hi.”

The wins for Davis, who co-starred in Denzel Washington’s August Wilson adaptation “Fences,” and Mahershala Ali, the “Moonlight” co-star, were both widely expected. Their awards marked the first time in more than a decade that multiple Oscar acting honors went to black actors.

“I became an artist, and thank god I did, because we are the only profession to celebrate what it means to live a life,” said Davis, the best supporting actress winner. “So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.”

Ali won best supporting actor for “Moonlight.” He glowed on the stage as he informed the crowd that he and his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, welcomed a daughter four days earlier. The actor thanked his wife for “being such a soldier through the process.”

Both stuck to more private reflections over politics. But a more blunt protest came from a winner not in attendance. Best foreign film for the second time went to Asghar Farhadi, director of Iran’s “A Salesman.” Farhadi, who also won for his “A Separation,” had said he wouldn’t attend because of Trump’s travel band to seven predominantly Muslim nations. Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian astronaut, read a statement from Farhadi.

“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” it read. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”

The broadcast often veered between such strong personal statements and Kimmel’s efforts to keep things a little lighter with bits reminiscent of his late-night show. Shortly before he led a dazed, unsuspecting tour group into the theater, presenter Gael Garcia Bernal, the Mexican actor, declared: “As a migrant worker, as a Mexican, and as a human being, I am against any wall.” Rich Moore, one of the three directors of Disney’s best animated film winner “Zootopia,” described the movie as about “tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other.”

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