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Thoughts On The 89th Academy Awards

Updated on February 27, 2017

An accidental flub of the announcement of the Best Picture of 2016 highlighted the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday, which honored some of the best films of the year. The winner of the top prize was Moonlight after an envelope mix-up caused the presenters, Bonnie & Clyde stars Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, to mistakenly announce La La Land as Best Picture. Although that final twist took away the attention from the other awards handed out, it was a well-produced ceremony overall that managed to strike just the right balance between rewarding the best in film and addressing issues happening in the world of politics.

While it didn't win Best Picture, the hit musical La La Land was the night's biggest winner, taking home 6 Academy Awards, including Damien Chazelle for Best Director (the youngest person to win the award at 32) and Emma Stone for Best Actress for her terrific performance as the struggling actress Mia. Best Picture winner Moonlight also took home awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. The grief drama Manchester by the Sea won awards for Best Actor for Casey Affleck and Best Original Screenplay. Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress for her powerful work in Fences and accompanied her win with a stirring speech. Best Animated Feature went to the acclaimed Disney blockbuster Zootopia. Fellow Best Picture nominees Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge also won awards.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 89th Oscars show and was one of the better hosts recently. A lot of the humor stemmed from his so-called feud with Matt Damon, which included Kimmel riffing on his performance in We Bought a Zoo and conducting the orchestra to play as Damon presented an award with Ben Affleck. Other good moments included a parody of The Lion King with adorable young Lion star Sunny Pawar from the audience, plenty of jokes at the expense of President Donald Trump, and candy bags that fell from the ceiling to the star-studded audience below. The host also brought along an Oscar version of his famous "Mean Tweets" segments from his talk show in which Oscar nominees and winners of years past and present read amusingly mean tweets about themselves from their iPhones. Falling flat, however, was an extended bit with tourists unaware they were being taken to the Oscar theater.

Other highlights included musical performances of the Best Original Song nominees (Justin Timberlake kicked off the ceremony entering the auditorium while singing his hit song "Can't Stop the Feeling" from Trolls). Meryl Streep, celebrating her 20th nomination for her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins, was the butt of many jokes that played on Donald Trump calling her "overrated" after her speech against him at the Golden Globes in January. Jennifer Aniston presented an emotional "In Memorium" segment that honored the many talents we lost in the past year and tearfully acknowledged actor Bill Paxton, who passed away the day before at 61.

The Best Picture gaffe at the end assured an evening full of deserving winners will be remembered as one of the most memorable Academy Award ceremonies. It was the kind of moment that generated the shock only live television could provide, and happened when many had turned off their TV sets as the show stretched past midnight. Despite the shocker, the La La Land producers appeared more than happy to pass their statues along to the ones from Moonlight, which tells the story of an African-American male's journey from boy to teen to man. While some will declare Moonlight's surprise victory over the Hollywood musical homage that was considered the front-runner to be a makeup for the Oscars So White controversy of the past two years, the movie is deserving of joining the 88 Best Picture winners that precede it. Although its glory is unfortunately overshadowed by the Steve Harvey moment that preceded it, this unforgettable little movie has rightfully found a permanent place in film history that guarantees it will be seen in the future.

And now, we look forward to what will win the 90th Academy Awards. Stay tuned on Wednesday for my article listing the 40 upcoming 2017 movies you need to see!


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