Oscars 2017

Loser: The Oscar Producers

For years, the Academy Awards ceremony has been called bloated and out-of-touch and agonizing to watch…and for years, everyone has been right on the money. Rather than just hand out of the awards and let everyone go home in 90 minutes, the Oscars continue to insist on being a four-hour spectacle and you could feel every single second of last night’s painful ceremony. Even after abruptly cutting the individual Best Picture nominee presentations (only Hacksaw Ridge got its montage), the show still lumbered like a drunken behemoth: aimless, slow, without purpose or direction. Even when individual segments or montages worked in a vacuum, their very inclusion felt like padding on someone already wearing six layers. Let’s just get on with it! There was nothing cinematic or exciting about this year’s ceremony…until that final Best Picture mistake, something that the producers could have never planned or plotted themselves.

Winner: Those Inspiration Duos

While the show itself was as dull and slow as ever, some of those segments were genuinely fun on their own when removed from the context of the overly long broadcast. The three “inspiration” segments, where one actor spoke about the performer who inspired them, only for both to take the stage to present an award together, were sweet and delightful. Watching Charlize Theron express her good taste for loving The Apartment, only to walk on stage with Shirley MacLaine, was a nice moment. As was Javier Bardem paying tribute to Meryl Streep. The best of the bunch was Seth Rogen being obviously overwhelmed to be sharing the same space as Michael J. Fox, a bit that also allowed him to step out of a DeLorean and sing some Hamilton in front of Lin-Manuel Miranda.

2017 PGA Awards Winners

Loser: La La Land

When is one of the most nominated movies in Oscar history a loser? When it doesn’t even come close to winning as many Oscars as everyone expected. Damien Chazelle’s La La Land won more awards than any other film last night, walking out with six wins (including Best Director and Best Actress for Emma Stone), but it was nominated for 14 and everyone expected a massive sweep. On one level, it’s good that a full sweep didn’t happen – it would have made an already boring show all the more boring. On another, it felt like the ill-conceived backlash that has been building against the film for the past few months actually took its toll. “Loser” may be a harsh word to describe what happened to La La Land last night, but it certainly wasn’t the big winner of the night…and everything suggested that it should have been. To make matters worse, it will now always be the movie that was incorrectly announced as Best Picture. Always.

Winner: Jordan Horowitz

In the midst of the most harrowing and bizarre moment in Oscars history, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz displayed tact, grace, dignity, and bravery in the face of utter humiliation. Informed on stage that La La Land did not actually win Best Picture and that the entire team was on the stage due to a horrible error in envelope mishandling, Horowitz did not flee the stage. Instead, he held his ground, calmly informed the audience of what happened, and graciously handed his Oscar over to the producers of Moonlight. You can take the full measure of a person by looking at how they handle their lowest moment and Mr. Horowitz experienced emotional whiplash unlike anything ever seen at an awards ceremony. He made a brutal moment into something beautiful.

Trevante Rhodes in Moonlight

Winner: Moonlight

It’s not common for a very small, very intimate movie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And until Moonlight won a surprise victory last night, it was impossible to imagine a drama about a young, gay, black man struggling with his identity actually taking home the film industry’s highest honor. The La La Land fiasco is going to grab all of the headlines, but the real story here is that a masterpiece of empathy and perspective and humanity took home an extraordinary honor. This is a victory for films by, for and about people of color. This is a victory for films by, for and about the LGBTQ community. Hell, this is a victory for great movies. If Moonlight, one of 2016’s most powerful and personal experiences, can win so big in such a major spotlight, then we’re all in a good place.

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