This week’s 89th annual Academy Awards telecast was easily one of the most surprising Oscar ceremonies in quite some time. While this year had its share of snubs and expected winners, there were certainly some surprises, and not all in the way you would think. With that said, it is time we take a look at the winners of some of the biggest awards of the evening and see how correct our predictions came out in the long run!
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea”
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone in “La La Land”
Best Picture: “Moonlight”
A surprising end to Best Picture
While the predictions came out correct for all these categories, the most surprising, and what has easily come out to be the most talked-about event of the evening, was the confusion for what would win Best Picture.
In case you missed it, the incident involved “Bonnie & Clyde” co-stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway coming out on stage, opening the envelope, and Beatty appeared to be taking a while to announce the winner in order to seemingly be funny, only to have Dunaway take a glance and immediately announce “La La Land” as the winner. However, just as the three producers of the film gave their speeches, producer Jordan Horowitz announced that “Moonlight” was the real winner, which threw just about everyone off at first. As he held the envelope up to the audience showing the award rightfully going to “Moonlight,” expressions of confusion, joy, and laughter could seemingly be felt and heard all over. Beatty explained that he accidentally received Emma Stone’s envelope for Best Actress, which was why he was taking so long to announce the winner. Fortunately, the filmmakers handled the situation maturely and with pride, allowing the rightful winners to walk home with the gold (not to mention, since “La La Land” was the big winner that night with six awards, they could probably afford to lose one in the process).
I was more happy than confused since “Moonlight” was easily my favorite film of 2016 with its realistic take on urban life, spectacular performances, strong writing, intense direction, and universal themes, all while not coming off as cliche, preachy, or melodramatic in the slightest. The film’s other award wins, in both “Best Supporting Actor” for Mahershala Ali and “Best Adapted Screenplay” for Barry Jenkins, have also made their way into Oscar history, with Ali being the first Muslim actor to receive an acting Oscar and Jenkins being one of the few African American screenwriters to receive the award. Similarly, this is the first film with an all black cast and the first LGBT film to win for Best Picture, which is a huge sign of how far both the Academy and film in general have come.
As many predicted, Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Fences,” which was followed by a very powerfully driven, albeit slightly unfocused speech. As mentioned earlier, Ali was the winner for Supporting Actor, which came as a bit of a surprise to me, considering that I thought Jeff Bridges would win for “Hell of High Water,” but I am ultimately happy with the result nonetheless. Also, unsurprisingly, Damien Chazelle won for Best Director for his work on “La La Land,” making this one of the rare times in Oscar history where the film that won Best Director didn’t simultaneously win for Best Picture.
As far as animated works go, while I am personally upset that “Kubo and the Two Strings” didn’t win for Best Animated Feature, “Zootopia” is a fine film regardless and its win is to be expected when looking at the Academy’s history of voting for animated films. It was very nice to see Pixar’s “Piper” deservingly win for Best Animated Short, given its adorable premise and breathtaking animation. Another deserving award win was for Best Visual Effects, rightfully given to “The Jungle Book,” given that everything in the film, other than Neel Sethi’s character Mowgli, was made using CGI.
Also, as a funny side note, one of the most jaw-dropping wins for the night was “Suicide Squad” for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The film has been loathed by critics and fans alike, yet not a single film in the much more acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe has won an Oscar, despite being nominated several times (including “Doctor Strange” which was nominated this year for its visuals).
The show itself was always on its feet, with host Jimmy Kimmel proving to be an entertaining force. With his many low blows to Matt Damon, ways of interacting with the audience (such as holding up “Lion” kid actor Sunny Pawar while “The Circle of Life” plays and dropping down candy, cookies, and donuts on to the crowd), and surprise visit by a bus full of tourists, Kimmel kept the show rolling at a good pace and was as funny as he was energized.
The performances for the Best Original Song nominees were also great, particularly Timberlake’s energized performance of “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from “Trolls” that opened the show and John Legend’s beautifully sung rendition of “City of Stars” from “La La Land.” While Auli’i Cravalho’s performance of “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” was a bit underwhelming, (it could have been better shot and it was a little funny when one of the props accidentally hit her on the head), her beautiful and passionate voice was still enough to make it enjoyable.
Overall, despite a few hiccups and some disappointments, this was easily one of the most memorable award ceremonies in some time. Congrats to all the winners and I anticipate to see how 2017 will try and top your films!
Mikael, 18, is a freshman at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta where he majors in animation. Mikael has made a host of stop-motion and claymation short films, including his award-winning short film “The Tree That Refused To Fall,” and all of them can be found on his YouTube channel, Cyclops Studios.