For the first time in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards, Best Motion Picture of the Year was presented to one film, then reneged, then presented to another. Here are the most surprising moments of the 2017 Oscars' most memorable exchange. — Tony Stasiek
'The Oscar goes to ... ... ...'
Presenter Warren Beatty inserted a longer-than-normal pause before announcing the winner of Best Motion Picture of the Year. Considering the final award of the evening typically is a somewhat hurried presentation, given the length of the telecast, Beatty's pause drew some prodding from co-presenter Faye Dunaway — "You're impossible," she said to Beatty at the time, according to the Oscars' official transcript. "I wasn’t trying to be funny," Beatty said shortly later.
Not only was La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz quick to acknowledge the change in award, but he also immediately congratulated Moonlight director Barry Jenkins upon relinquishing his statuette. "I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight," Horowitz said.
Beatty took the mic back to explain that the envelope he opened contained Emma Stone's Best Actress information for La La Land, not Best Motion Picture of the Year. Hence his dramatic pause when announcing the winner ... and the announcement of another winner shortly later.
There's too much going on in this image, which may be studied for weeks to come. Check out Stone and co-star Ryan Gosling at about the 2 o'clock spot. These are some fairly delighted-appearing also-rans. Compare this to Naomie Harris at about 1 o'clock. Her film won.
Despite netting a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations, La La Land fell short of the record 11 wins. Gosling and Co. ended the night with six wins, coming frustratingly close to seven. "It was a difficult situation, there's no doubt about that," Horowitz said later on the red carpet.
Shortly after Moonlight was announced as the winner, we saw the supporting evidence. Unclear, at least shortly after the show concluded: Where was this when Dunaway and Beatty took the stage? Why were they handed a "duplicate" envelope?
Surprise of the night may belong to Barry Jenkins, already an Academy Award-winner for Best Adapted Screenplay. "Very clearly, even in my dreams, this could not be true," he said. "But to hell with dreams — I’m done with it because this is true."
Three wins out of eight nominations places Moonlight in pretty good company in Oscar history, with some thanks potentially due to its late-season success in other awards presentations. The film's $20,362,533 gross leading up to Oscars weekend was the lowest of all Best Motion Picture of the Year nominees.