On February 26th, the 89th Academy Awards aired from Hollywood with much anticipation for the most important, and final, award of the night – Best Picture. Eight films were up for this year’s award (La La Land, Arrival, Lion, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester by the Sea, and Fences), and what appeared to be a great night for La La Land quickly – and awkwardly – turned into an even better night for Moonlight.
Actors Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty took to the stage to announce the biggest award of the night, but Beatty, who held the envelope in his hand, seemed to have accidently received the winner for Best Actress – which Emma Stone from La La Land won – instead; and even though he seemed puzzled by what was written on the card, Dunaway readily announced La La Land to be the winner without noticing the mistake. While one of La La Land’s producers gave his acceptance speech with an entourage of the movies’ cast members behind him, one of the show staff members quickly approached the stage to provide the announcers with the proper envelope. Amid the onstage catastrophe, Jordan Horowitz, the other producer for the La La Land film, stepped up to the mic swiftly in heroic fashion to announce to the audience the true winners. Horowitz addressed the continued disbelief by taking the correct card out of Beatty’s hands and showing it not only to the audience but also the millions of viewers who were watching from home.
“Guys. Guys. I’m so sorry, no. There’s a mistake.
Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke.
Come up here.”
- Jordan Horowitz
Much more is to be celebrated for the Moonlight film as they also took home the awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor that was won by Mahershala Ali – the first Muslim to win this award – who played Juan, the surrogate father to main character Chiron. The Best Picture award received by the all black cast stands for much more to the LGBTQ+ community as it serves as the very first Oscar given for an LGBTQ+ storyline film.
The accountancy firm in charge of the Oscar balloting, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Accountants issued a public apology immediately following the Sunday night snub, but the Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, has since stated that the representatives chosen to attend this year’s show, Brian Cullinan and Marta Ruiz, would not be invited back to work with them in the future. Isaacs has also stated that the Academy’s ongoing relationship with PwC – who has overseen tallying winners for more than 80 years – is “under review.”
“This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender
conforming who don’t see themselves. We’re trying to show you and us.”
- Tarell McCranney, Moonlight Playwright