Late-Night Stunner: Best Picture Mix-Up At The Oscars

Feb 27, 2017
Originally published on February 27, 2017 7:39 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And you want to talk about a surprise Hollywood ending?

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yeah (laughter).

GREENE: I was coming to work this morning at a restaurant in LA, Rachel, and all they were playing was the moment from the Oscars. And, I mean - let's just let our colleague Mandalit del Barco explain. She was there.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: At the end of an otherwise unsurprising ceremony, it was time for Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to do the honors and announce the final winner of the night.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

WARREN BEATTY: For best picture...

FAYE DUNAWAY: You're impossible.

(LAUGHTER)

DUNAWAY: Come on. "La La Land."

(CHEERING)

DEL BARCO: The entire cast of "La La Land" excitedly gathered onstage. After the obligatory thank-yous, producer Jordan Horowitz began giving a somewhat political message.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

JORDAN HOROWITZ: Repression is the enemy of civilization, so keep dreaming because the dreams we dream today will provide the love, the compassion and the humanity that will narrate the stories of our lives tomorrow.

DEL BARCO: Suddenly, there was a commotion onstage.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

HOROWITZ: Guys, I'm sorry. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There was a mistake.

HOROWITZ: There's a mistake. "Moonlight," you guys won best picture.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: "Moonlight" won.

DEL BARCO: Host Jimmy Kimmel had to ask the obvious.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

JIMMY KIMMEL: Warren, what did you do?

BEATTY: I opened the envelope, and it said Emma Stone, "La La Land." That's why I took such a long look at Faye...

KIMMEL: Oh.

BEATTY: ...And at you. I wasn't trying to be funny (laughter).

DEL BARCO: Then the ensemble cast of "Moonlight" gathered onstage, still stunned and confused.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

BARRY JENKINS: Very clearly, even in my dreams, this could not be true. But to hell with dreams. I'm done with it because this is true. Oh, my goodness.

DEL BARCO: Moonlight director Barry Jenkins was handed the Oscars trophy.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

JENKINS: My love to "La La Land" - my love to everybody.

DEL BARCO: Backstage, Jenkins talked to reporters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JENKINS: I noticed the commotion that was happening, and I thought something strange had occurred. And then I'm sure everybody saw my face, but I was speechless. I will say I saw two cards. I wanted to see the card, and Warren refused to show the card to anybody before he showed it to me. And so he did. He came upstairs, and he walked over to me and he showed the card. Everybody was asking - can I see the card? He's like - no, Barry Jenkins has to see the card. I need him to know.

DEL BARCO: The mystery of what really happened with the cards continued when "La La Land's" Emma Stone came backstage after winning for best actress.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EMMA STONE: Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time?

(CROSSTALK)

STONE: Cool (laughter). God, I love "Moonlight" so much. I'm so excited for "Moonlight." And of course, you know, it was an amazing thing to hear "La La Land." I think we all would have loved to win best picture, but we are so excited for "Moonlight." I also was holding my best actress in a leading role card that entire time.

(LAUGHTER)

STONE: So whatever story - I don't mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I have that card. So I'm not sure what happened.

DEL BARCO: PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that has tabulated the Oscar winners for more than 80 years, issued a statement apologizing for giving the wrong category envelope to the presenters. In the end, "La La Land" won six Oscars, including for best cinematography and best director, Damien Chazelle. Chazelle's musical also won best original score and best song.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LA LA LAND")

EMMA STONE AND RYAN GOSLING: (As Mia and Sebastian, singing) I don't care if I know just where I will go 'cause all that I need's this crazy feeling - a rat-tat-tat on my heart.

RYAN GOSLING: (As Sebastian, singing) Think I want it to stay.

DEL BARCO: And in the end, "Moonlight" won three Oscars, including best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali. "Moonlight" also won for best adapted screenplay, which Barry Jenkins wrote with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY: Two boys from Liberty City up here on this stage representing 305.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCRANEY: 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 you and us. So thank you, thank you. This is for you.

DEL BARCO: Among the other winners, Casey Affleck, who starred in "Manchester By The Sea," won for best actor and Viola Davis picked up the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in "Fences." She gave a moving speech onstage and backstage too.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VIOLA DAVIS: And I can't believe my life. I grew up in poverty. You know, I grew up in apartments that were condemned and rat-infested. And I just always sort of wanted to be somebody. And I just wanted to be good at something. And - so this is sort of, like, the miracle of God - of dreaming big and just hoping that it sticks and it lands. And it did. Who knew?

DEL BARCO: The ceremony turned out to be a celebration of cinema, but current political topics were the subject of some of the presenters and winners. When his film "The Salesman" won best foreign film, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi sent a message about why he wasn't at the ceremony. In his place, he asked Iranian astronaut Anousheh Ansari to read his short but pointed statement.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

ANOUSHEH ANSARI: (Reading) My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.

DEL BARCO: Before presenting the best animated feature award to "Zootopia," actor Gael Garcia Bernal also had something to say about President Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

GAEL GARCIA BERNAL: 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.

DEL BARCO: Throughout the show, host Jimmy Kimmel joked about the president.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

KIMMEL: Maybe this is not...

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: ...A popular thing to say, but I want to say thank you to President Trump. I mean, remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?

(LAUGHTER)

DEL BARCO: And Kimmel wondered out loud how long it would take for Trump to react.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

KIMMEL: Some of you will get to come up here 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.

(LAUGHTER)

DEL BARCO: Not all the jokes were crude or leveled at the president, though. Kimmel arranged for a Hollywood tour bus to make a stop at the awards, surprising unsuspecting tourists.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE 89TH ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

KIMMEL: Let's turn out the lights. And on the count of three, we'll turn the lights on. And everybody yell Mahershala, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: OK, Mahershala? All right. Three, two, one.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: Mahershala.

DEL BARCO: In the City of Angels, they found themselves in a room full of stars.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Hollywood.

(SOUNDBITE OF NICHOLAS BRITELL'S "END CREDITS SUITE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.