I’ve been covering the Oscars since 1995 and that’s the strangest end to an Oscars ceremony that we’re ever likely to see. They’ll be telling the story for long after I’ve left this planet. The accounting firm of PwC gave an incorrect envelope to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Instead of the best picture envelope, they were given a duplicate of the best actress envelope (awarded just a few minutes earlier). Beatty was clearly confused to see Emma Stone’s name listed, he handed the envelope to Dunaway, and she simply read “La La Land”. It wasn’t until a minute or so had passed before the correction was made – Moonlight had actually won best picture.
Everyone seems to be taking it in their stride. Backstage, Emma Stone professed that she “f***ing loved Moonlight” and didn’t seem too perturbed by the defeat. The same applies to La La Land’s producer Jordan Horowitz who was quick to make the correction on stage and get the Moonlight producers up to accept.
That said, it was a disappointing end to what should have been one of the Academy’s great moments. The La La Land producers had the Oscar statues in the hands and were making a passionate speech. To be embarrassed like that is terrible. It would have been even worse if it had occurred in an acting category. While they get win, you have to feel sympathy for Moonlight. They didn’t get the chance to hear their names read out and it’s likely that the win will be remembered more for the mistake than the film itself. I feel like channelling Donald Trump and putting “SAD!” in a tweet.
When the dust settles, those behind Moonlight will hopefully enjoy the success. Despite all the critical praise, their tiny film has made the least amount of money at the box-office when compared to the other 8 best nominees. To have beaten them all, particularly after La La Land won the Producer’s Guild Award, is one of the great all time Oscars upsets. It’s on a par with the wins by Crash and Shakespeare in Love. The film is amazing too and I’m sure more people will see it as a result.
It’s hard to talk about much else in regards to the ceremony because it all feels insignificant in comparison. Jimmy Kimmel took a relatively safe path as the host. He wasn’t the best but he was far from being the worst. The highlight of the night for me was the win of American Kevin O’Connell in the best sound mixing category. After 20 previous nominations without a win, stretching back to 1983’s Terms of Endearment, he broke the longest losing streak in Oscars history with his best sound mixing win for Hacksaw Ridge. He shared the win with three Australians who were our only winners on the night.
There were plenty of nice speeches include those of Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis who won as expected in the supporting categories. There was a political flavour to the night with fun poked at Donald Trump but also a deeper undertone about embracing difference and celebrating inclusion.
For those who haven’t seen a list of winners, the big ones were:
Best picture – Moonlight
Best director – Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
Best actor – Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
Best actress – Emma Stone (La La Land)
Best supporting actor – Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Best supporting actress – Viola Davis (Fences)
Best original screenplay – Manchester by the Sea
Best adapted screenplay – Moonlight
Best foreign language film – The Salesman
Best animated film – Zootopia
It was another successful year for me in terms of Oscars betting. I got some great odds early in the season on Damien Chazelle, Casey Affleck, Emma Stone and Mahershala Ali and they all managed to get the win. I finished with a profit of $870 which will do just nicely. I am grateful to have not backed La La Land for best picture (I did think it would win) as that would have been awkward given the way it unfolded.
To help keep a record of all my Oscar bets, here’s the full list for the archives…
1996 – profit of $750 – won on Susan Sarandon
1997 – profit of $300 (cumulative profit $1,050) – won on Frances McDormand
1998 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $800)
1999 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $550)
2000 – profit of $620 (cumulative profit $1,170) – won on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine
2001 – loss of $190 (cumulative profit $980) – won on director Steven Soderbergh
2002 – profit of $480 (cumulative profit $1,460) – won on Halle Berry
2003 – profit of $275 (cumulative profit $1,735) – won on Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adrian Brody
2004 – profit of $150 (cumulative profit $1,875) – won on Sean Penn
2005 – profit of $214 (cumulative profit $2,089) – won on Hilary Swank
2006 – profit of $350 (cumulative profit $2,439) – won on Reese Witherspoon
2007 – profit of $1,463 (cumulative profit $3,912) – won on Eddie Murphy at Globes, Alan Arkin & West Bank Story at Oscars
2008 – profit of $268 (cumulative profit of $4,280) – won on Tilda Swinton and the Coen brothers
2009 – profit of $253 (cumulative profit of $4,533) – won on Mickey Rourke & Kate Winslet at Globes, Kate Winslet at Oscars
2010 – loss of $830 (cumulative profit of $3,703)
2011 – profit of $30 (cumulative profit of $3,733) – won on Social Network at Globes, Tom Hooper & King’s Speech at Oscars
2012 – loss of $640 (cumulative profit of $3,093) – won on Jean Dujardin at Oscars
2013 – loss of $850 (cumulative profit of $2,243) – won on Ang Lee at Oscars
2014 – loss of $72 (cumulative profit of $2,171) – won on Matthew McConaughey at Globes and Oscars
2015 – loss of $50 (cumulative profit of $2,121) – won on Eddie Redmayne at Oscars
2016 – win of $1,325 (cumulative profit of $3,446) – won on Mark Rylance and Spotlight at Oscars
2017 – win of $870 (cumulative profit of $4,316) – won on Damien Chazelle, Casey Affleck, Emma Stone and Mahershala Ali at Oscars
I set a tough test for this year’s Oscars competition with plenty of upsets across the board – particularly in the technical categories. It could have been even harder if I’d have included categories like costume design and make up (who were won by rank outsiders).
In the end, 4 out of 6 was the best score this year. I’ve been running the competition for 17 years and I feel a little guilty in saying that I had the best score this year. All my picks were published in my e-newsletter last week so don’t think I’m trying to cheat! I missed best picture and best sound editing (the two hardest categories to get) and was spot on with the age of the 2 best picture presenters (which had been leaked for those paying attention in the days leading up to the Oscars).
I’m not giving myself the prize though and so the winner this year is Elenaor Morse who missed the same two categories as me and was closest with her pick of the age of the best picture presenters – Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (who will forever be known for the wrong reasons) are 79 and 76 respectively. Elenaor went with an average age of 71. Other competition entrants with 4 out of 6 were Peter Gray, Shaun Heenan, Robb Musgrave, Lisa Malouf, El Hamraoui Talal, Stephanie Sim, Reed Hilton, Alex Thomas and Nick Dagan. There were plenty more on 3 out of 6. I’ll soon be in touch with Eleanor about her prize.
In closing, I reflect on one of my favourite Simpsons line. Krusty the Clown shows a cartoon where Scratchy finally kills Itchy and proclaims – “They’ll never let us show that again! Not in a million years!” Those behind the scenes at the Academy will feel the same way tonight.