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‘Moonlight’ wins top Oscar after major mix-up

By Boniface Mithika and agencies | February 28th 2017
Writer/director Barry Jenkins (L) and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney pose in the press room with the Best Adapted Screenplay award for 'Moonlight' during the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN

African-American coming-of-age tale “Moonlight” won the Oscar for best picture on Sunday on a big night for Hollywood diversity that was overshadowed by an embarrassing onstage gaffe over the top award.

In a mishap that caused uproar and confusion, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially announced that romantic musical “La La Land”, the presumed favorite for best picture, had won.

As the casts of both films stood awkwardly on stage, Beatty explained he had been given the wrong envelope to open.

It was the first time in living memory that such a major mistake had been made at the Academy Awards, Hollywood’s biggest night.

It even eclipsed the prior three hours of a show peppered with jokes about US President Donald Trump.

Accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, who oversee the ballots, said the presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope.

“We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred,”

PwC said in a statement, while apologising to “Moonlight” and “La La Land”, Beatty and Dunaway and Oscar viewers.

Officials from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were not immediately available to comment.

“Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time?” Stone, who won the best actress Oscar for her “La La Land” role as a struggling actress, told reporters backstage “It’s a very strange happening for Oscar history.”

“Moonlight,” about a young boy struggling with poverty and his sexuality in Miami, also brought a supporting actor Oscar for first timer Mahershala Ali, a best adapted screenplay statuette.

Sweeping a total of six awards out of its 14 nominations, musical rom-com La La Land was this year’s Oscar favourite in a night when coming-of-age film Moonlight was dealt a major upset.

But the glamour night, the 89th annual academy awards show held at the Dolby Theatre was not just about La La Land.

Political activism and other sideshows stole the spotlight.

The show began with a performance by Justin Timberlake from a film that means absolutely nothing to anyone older than 6, before host Jimmy Kimmel launched into his not so much hilarious monologue and a prank that failed miserably.

The show offered plenty of questionable decision-making but in between the resounding moments of, “huh? No., Really Huh? There was also legitimate silvers of beauty on offer, from Viola Davis powerful acceptance speech to... epic fashion fails and wrong announcements capped the day.

However, it was not long before controversy was stirred as Casey Affleck received a standing ovation after winning the Best Actor Oscar despite the sexual harassment reports surrounding him, and an epic mistake that saw the wrong film given Best Picture Awards.

This year’s Oscars though had multiple black winners lastly seen in 2007. Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis capped a landmark year for a diversity in the awards race. Davis nabbed her first Oscar for her co-starring turn as Rose Maxson in Denzel Washington’s August Wilson adaptation Fences.

Denzel previously made Oscars history in 2002, when he and Halle Berry became the first black performers to win both of the Academy’s lead acting awards on the same evening.

This was a result of Academy’s attempt to evolve its voting ranks following the uproar #OscarsSoWhite Controversy, which saw the Academy extend offers to 683 films from 59 countries but this was not taken lightly as some ardent fans ranted about it online.

“Just goes to show you that incessant whining and complaining last year led to basically a forced vote for black actors. What a joke. Pandering, patronising idiots,” wrote one Gerry Denzolo.

Holding her statue Viola said: “there is one place that only people with great potential are gathered and that is the grave yard.

“People ask me all the time, ‘what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?” and I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams in fruition. People who fell in love and lost,” Davis said in her acceptance speech.

“I became an artist, and thank God I did... So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.”

Other winners of the night included Damien Chazelle, Casey Affleck, Emma Stone, Kenneth Lonergan, Barry Jenkins, Byron Howard,Rich Moore, Ezra Edelman, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.


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