Why the 2017 Oscar mistake wasn’t a publicity hoax and 5 other Oscar ‘alternative facts’ debunked

February 28, 2017

by Carla Hay

Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel (pictured at left) looks on as Oscar presenter Warren Beatty (pictured at right) explains the infamous Oscar mistake
Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel (pictured at left) looks on as Oscar presenter Warren Beatty (pictured at right) explains the infamous Oscar mistake. (Photo by Eddy Chen/ABC)

It didn’t take long for the conspiracy theories to start after the biggest mistake in Oscar history was broadcast live for millions of people around the world to see at the 89th Annual Academy Awards, which took place the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on February 26, 2017.

To recap, in case you’re one of the few people who haven’t heard about it yet: The wrong winner was announced for Best Picture. The producers of the contemporary musical “La La Land” were on stage for an entire two minutes while giving their acceptance speeches when it was announced that “La La Land” was not the winner for Best Picture. The coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” was, in fact, the real winner. The “La La Land” team had to literally hand over the Oscars they thought they had won to the “Moonlight” team. How embarrassing.

It was determined that the wrong envelope had been given to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who therefore announced the wrong winner. The video of this incident quickly went viral, but many people on the Internet started spreading stories that the whole thing was a rigged publicity stunt to boost the Oscar ceremony’s ratings. This conspiracy theory couldn’t be farther from the truth, and here’s why:

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the longtime accounting firm for the Academy Awards, has a legally binding contract to not reveal the voting results to anyone other than to a select few people at the firm. Not even the Oscar telecast’s producers, host or the network executives (the people who would have the most to gain from publicity stunts for the show) know who won until the winner is announced on stage. The Oscar statuettes handed out on stage do not have the winners’ names on the statuettes—the winners’ names are engraved on these awards after the ceremony.


PricewaterhouseCoopers, which issued a formal apology for the envelope error, makes such a big deal out of showing the locked briefcases where the Oscar envelopes are held, that the two PricewaterhouseCoopers employees entrusted with this responsibility of handing out the sealed envelopes actually walk the red carpet and pose for pictures with the briefcases. Each employee carries the same envelopes in case something happens that would prevent one of the employees from handing over the envelopes in  time.

Because of the millions of dollars at stake, PricewaterhouseCoopers would not put their business and reputation on the line for such an elaborate publicity stunt that would only harm the company. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose members do the Oscar voting, also issued a separate apology, even though PricewaterhouseCoopers is taking full responsibility for the fiasco.

And if it were a publicity stunt, it was a poorly timed stunt that didn’t work. Why wait until the very end of the show (which dragged on way past its scheduled end time) to do it? It would have made more sense to pull a publicity stunt at the beginning of the show or before the show in order to get people to tune in for higher ratings. According to the Nielsen Company and The Hollywood Reporter,  ratings for this year’s Oscars dropped to 32.9 million U.S. viewers, which is a 4 percent decrease from the previous year.

The fact that the mistake wasn’t corrected for two whole minutes (which is a long time on live TV) indicates that the show’s producers didn’t know what a humiliating, colossal mistake had been made on their live TV broadcast. Beatty, Dunaway and the “La La Land” team certainly didn’t know who the winner was in advance, because it would be insane and financially non-beneficial to them to embarrass themselves on TV in this manner for the sake of boosting TV ratings.

PriceWaterHouse Coopers employee Brian Cullinan (pictured at right) on the Oscar red carpet before the show at the Dolby Theatre on February 26, 2017.
PricewaterhouseCoopers employees Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan on the Oscar red carpet before the show at the Dolby Theatre on February 26, 2017. (Photo by Tyler Golden/ABC/Tyler Golden)

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ U.S. chairman Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, two of the company’s employees who had the responsibility of handing out the correct envelopes during the Oscar ceremony, were among the few people who knew in advance who the real winner was. Why did it take them so long to correct the mistake on stage? That is currently being “investigated,” according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Sometimes a mistake this big really does happen because of an unintentional error. It’s time to let the conspiracy theories go.

March 1, 2017 UPDATE: PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Academy have announced that Cullinan and Ruiz have now been prohibited from any PricewaterhouseCoopers activities related to the Oscars.

Here are five other “alternative facts” (in other words, things that aren’t true) about recent Academy Awards that have spread over the Internet and by some media outlets, along with the real truth to debunk the false reports:

Are Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck the first brothers to win Oscars?

No. In a backstage interview at the 2017 Academy Awards, Casey Affleck (winner of Best Actor, for “Manchester by the Sea”) said that he and his older brother Ben Affleck are the only brothers to win Oscars. In fact, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen each won three Oscars on the same night for directing, writing and producing the 2007 movie “No Country for Old Men.” The Coen brothers won the awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Ben Affleck has two Oscars: Best Picture (for producing the 2012 drama “Argo”) and Best Original Screenplay (for co-writing the 1997 drama “Good Will Hunting.”) Ben Affleck has not received Oscar nominations as an actor or director; he was famously snubbed by not getting an Oscar nomination for directing or starring in “Argo.”

Is “Moonlight star” Mahershala Ali the first Muslim to win an Oscar?

No. Because religion is such a sensitive and private issue for many, it’s difficult to know who really was the first Muslim to actually win an Oscar. It may be obvious to look to the Best Foreign Film category to make assumptions about which Oscar winners were Muslim (for example, the 2011 Iranian film “A Separation” won in that category), but the Academy Awards have many lower-profile categories such as technical awards and short-film awards that a Muslim could have won in those categories long before “Moonlight” star Ali won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. As for the Oscar categories for actors and actresses, Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who has openly discussed being Muslim, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the 2003 drama “House of Sand and Fog.”

Is Sam Smith the first openly gay person to win an Oscar?

No. In 2016, Oscar winner Sam Smith mistakenly declared in his acceptance speech that he was the first openly gay person to win an Oscar. Smith—whose “Writing’s on the Wall” tune (from the James Bond film “Spectre”) won the Oscar for Best Original Song—was soon corrected on social media that he wasn’t the first openly gay person to win an Oscar. Elton John won the same Oscar for co-writing the 1994 “The Lion King” hit song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Smith later made a public apology for his mistake.

Did “Moonlight” writer/director Barry Jenkins become the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Picture?

No. An African-American has not yet won this prize. However, “12 Years a Slave” director/producer Steve McQueen (who is British) became the first black person to win an Oscar for Best Picture. The Oscar for Best Picture goes to the eligible producer(s) of the film, not the director or the stars of the movie, unless a director or star of the movie is also one of the eligible producers of the film.

In the case of “Moonlight,” the Oscar for Best Picture was awarded to producers Jeremy Kleiner, Dede Gardner and Adele Romanski, who are all Caucasian. Jenkins was not one of the producers of “Moonlight.” Kleiner and Gardner also previously won a Best Picture Oscar for the 2013 film “12 Years a Slave,” whose Oscar-winning producers also included McQueen, Brad Pitt and Anthony Katagas.

Did “Moonlight” writer/director Barry Jenkins become the first African-American to win an Oscar in a screenplay category?

No. Geoffrey S. Fletcher became the first African-American to win a screenplay Oscar for the 2009 movie “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” Fletcher received the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay. John Ridley, who is also African-American, won the same award for “12 Years a Slave.”

Barry Jenkins and the ‘Moonlight’ team backstage at the 2017 Academy Awards

February 27, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 89th Annual Academy Awards took place on February, 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.


Oscar wins:

Best Picture (for producers Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner)

Best Adapted Screenplay (for Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney)

Best Supporting Actor (for Mahershala Ali)


Here is what these Oscar winners said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.

Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski and Barry Jenkins at the 2017 Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski and Barry Jenkins at the 2017 Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mike Baker/©A.M.P.A.S.)


What went through your head when “La La Land” was announced the winner of Best Picture, and then just a couple of minutes later it was “Moonlight”?

Barry Jenkins (writer/director): I think all the movies that were nominated were worthy, so I accepted the results. I applauded like everyone else. I noticed the commotion that was happening, and I thought something strange had occurred.  And then I’m sure everybody saw my face. But I was speechless when the result … that was awkward, because I’ve watched the Academy Awards, and I’ve never seen that happen before. And so it made a very special feeling even more special, but not in the way I expected.

“Moonlight” feels a bit life‑changing because it’s such an experience of filmmaking for us as audience members. For you guys, being so involved in the project, what will you remember the most about this life‑changing experience for you?

Jenkins: The last 20 minutes of my life have been insane. I don’t think my life could be changed any more dramatically than what happened in the last 20 or 30 minutes. But I also think, too, working on this film with everyone here, all the cast that is somewhere drinking champagne, I’m sure, it’s just been otherworldly, I will say.

And I never expected so many people to see the film, but even a step further, so many people see themselves in the film. I was in Germany, and this guy stood up and said, “I’m from rural Germany, you know, and 20 minutes into this film, I didn’t see Alex Hibbert. I saw myself.” And that was how I felt in working on it. I had one idea of what I was doing, and then I realized that everyone else was bringing this other thing that was much more beautiful than my idea could ever be. So, yeah, beyond life‑changing.

Given the impact that “Moonlight” has had, do you think that this will help break down barriers for more stories about LGBT people of color?

Tarell Alvin McCraney (writer): The hope that we have today about telling stories is that those people, the ones who we are leaning on to make those stories, were watching and found the platform that they saw they could stand on.  I remember sitting back somewhere watching Dustin Lance Black accept for “Milk,” and thinking, “Maybe one day … me.” And here I am. So if that’s any indication, I hope we are moving in that vein.  I hope the storytellers up here and their proud journey here can imprint on someone out there watching, that they too can stand here too, and also tell their stories as daringly, as intimately as possible.

Jeremy Kleiner (producer): I might just add … because I didn’t get a chance to thank ‑‑ we didn’t get a chance to thank our courageous distributor, A24. This project didn’t really have a lot of comps. It was kind of outside of, like, the modeling of what, you know, a movie should be in terms of return on investment and that. And I think that this outcome for “Moonlight,” independently of tonight, but just the effect it’s had domestically around the world hopefully creates some incentives to make stories like this in all different forms.  So that ‑‑ and that was not far from our minds as well.

This question is for Barry Jenkins. What explanation were you given for the mixup tonight?

Jenkins: No explanation. Things just happen, you know? But I will say I saw two cards.  And so things just happen, you know? I wanted to see the card to see the card. And Warren [Beatty] refused to show the card to anybody before he showed it to me. And so he did. He came upstairs, and he walked over to me, and he showed the card.

Everybody was asking, Can I see the card? And he’s like, “No, Barry Jenkins has to see the card.  I need him to know.” And he showed it to me, and I felt better about what had happened. I will say to all you people, please write this down: The folks from “La La Land” were so gracious. We spent a lot of time together over the last six months, and I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that. I wasn’t speechless because we won. I was speechless because it was so gracious of them to do that.

What did the card say?

Jenkins: The card said, “Best Picture: ‘Moonlight.’ Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski.” But there were two cards.

Did you all have speeches prepared for Best Picture?  And if so, what were you going to say?

Adele Romanski (producer): Yeah, we might have had a couple ideas. But I think the way that what went down, we kind of had to roll with it.  I feel good about what was said.  But I have to admit it was a bit of a fugue state, and I don’t know that I remember it. We didn’t thank people that we probably should have thanked.

Jenkins: Yeah, I absolutely wanted to thank A24 a thousand times because when I first set out to make this film with Adele, there was a budget that we had, and you guys know what the budget is now. It’s 1.5 [million dollars]. The budget we were offered before that was much, much smaller. And without us asking, they increased that budget because they believed in the project. They never told us to alter anything in that process.

So my whole acceptance speech was going to be in thanks to them, because it’s amazing to be Barry Jenkins right now, but it was not a year and a half ago for a guy who made a movie for $13,000 and hadn’t made a movie in seven years at that point. So I was going to give as much love to them as I possibly could with my time on the mic. And it’s unfortunate that things happened the way they did. But hot damn, we won Best Picture.

Barry, for you this has been a long time coming, and it’s been a long journey for you.  Ironically, the stories or the themes told in “La La Land” could apply to you as well. What are your feelings toward Los Angeles and this city and the people in it?

Jenkins: I love L.A.!  How could I not right now? You know, I’ll speak about “La La Land.” When I saw Justin [Horowitz, one of the producers of “La La Land”] at Telluride, I told him that I hadn’t been home in about two months. And I can see my apartment in the background of the opening shot of that film, and I was nostalgic for L.A., which is a crazy feeling for a guy from Miami who’s always had a hard time in L.A.

But you’re right. This is a fulfillment of a lot of things. And I also would have thanked Darnell Martin who gave me my first job in this city. Yeah, she took Chiron and said, Hey, come be my assistant and learn everything I have to teach you. So a lot of things have come full circle right now. This circle was much bigger than I ever could have imagined for myself or for this film.

But it feels good, man, you know. And I guess anything’s possible because most of the voters who voted us Best Picture, they reside here in Los Angeles, and yet they voted a film about a marginalized character from a marginalized community told in a very unorthodox way into Best Picture. And so, God bless L.A.

First off, why do you think that “Moonlight” resonated so deeply with audiences? And secondly, how do you think that winning this Oscar is going to change your life or your career?

Jenkins: I mean, my career, that part’s pretty clear. You know, I write an e‑mail, somebody’s going to reply at this point. Or I make a phone call, somebody is going to call back. So that part is cool.

But why this film? You know, I can’t say. I kind of took it off the table when we came to making this. I mean, Tarell put so much truth in what he wrote in the piece “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” I try to take truth and manifest it on screen. And the only thing I can speak to is that whatever authenticity, whatever fire this guy had in his belly, people saw it, and they reflected the same fire in their belly.

McCraney: Barry does this often where he deflects the fact that, you know, sure, I may have brought my truth to the table in the original script. However, what Barry continued to do when he rewrote the script and when he started shooting, when he started casting, when he was working with those actors, was continue to see himself in those moments, those intimate moments. And everybody can relate to that, because we all know that moment that we felt awkward, because Barry found the moment he was awkward, and he put it on screen.

And so for me, that’s the lightning rod that keeps bringing people back.  We’re putting our true feelings, our true selves there.  And this man did it, you know, in 25 days with a cast and crew who was in and out in Miami in the dreaded heat, but we did that with love and compassion and fullness.  I think that’s what keeps bringing people back to the cinema.

Mahershala Ali backstage at the 2017 Academy Awards

February 27, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 89th Annual Academy Awards took place on February, 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.


Oscar win:

Best Supporting Actor



Here is what this Oscar winner said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.

Mahershala Ali at the 2017 Academy Awards in Los Angeles
Mahershala Ali at the 2017 Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mike Baker/©A.M.P.A.S.)


You are one of the few Muslim actors to win an Oscar. This says a lot at this particular time in our history. Could you speak to that, please? 

Well, regardless of one’s theology or however you see life or relate to worshipping God, as an artist my job is the same, and it’s to tell the truth, and try to connect with these characters and these people as honestly and as deeply as possible. And so one’s spiritual practice, I don’t necessarily feel like it’s as relevant unless it gives you a way into having more empathy for these people that you have to advocate for. I’m proud to own that. I embrace that. But, again, I’m just an artist who feels blessed to have had the opportunities that I have had and try to do the most with every opportunity that’s come my way.

The material in “Moonlight” is so personal to Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins, who both wrote the script. How much pressure did you feel to get it right?

I think I always want to walk away from any project feeling like the writer, director was pleased with what I had to offer. And considering the personal nature of this project, I think that … there was a need that felt a little heightened to me to get it truthful where they could walk away and feel like I really contributed to their film and didn’t screw it up considering that, you know, I was playing someone who had an extraordinary impact on Tarell’s life, and I’m actually glad I didn’t know ‘til later more the details of that, of Blue or Juan’s contribution to Tarell’s life, but it did. It added a layer of pressure.

First off, what went through your head when you read the script to begin with because it was such a beautiful film?  And what can you say about the Best Picture announcement mistake and kind of what went through your head hearing “La La Land” and then hearing “Moonlight” won after all?

Well, I sincerely say that when I read the script … Look, I don’t get to read everything, because there’s things that I’m just not remotely right for. Ryan Gosling and I read different scripts. It’s just what it is, right? As far as the scripts that I’ve read in my 17 years of doing it professionally, “Moonlight” was the best thing that has ever come across my desk.

And that character for the time that he was on the page really spoke to my heart, and I felt like I could hear him, I could sort of envision his presence. I had a real sense of who that person was, enough to start the journey. And I really wanted to be a part of that project, and I’m just so fortunate that Idris [Elba] and David Oyelowo left me a job.  You know, very, very kind of them.

So yeah, and then the second part of your question, “La La Land” has done so well and it’s resonated with so many people, especially in this time when people need a sense of buoyancy in their life and need some hope and light. So that film has really impacted people … in a very different way than “Moonlight.” And so when their name was read, I wasn’t surprised.  And I am really happy for them. It’s a group of some extraordinary people in front of the camera and behind the camera. So I was really happy for them.

And then when I did see security or people coming out on stage and their moment was being disrupted in some way, I got really worried. And then when they said Jordan Horowitz said, “”Moonlight,’ you guys have won,” it just threw me a bit because it threw me more than a bit, but, I didn’t want to go up there and take anything from somebody, and it’s very hard to feel joy in a moment like that. So, but I feel very fortunate … for all of us to have walked away with the Best Picture award. It’s pretty remarkable.

You used to be on “House of Cards.” What you think your fictional former “House f Cards” boss, Frank Underwood, would have to say about your win tonight and about the way the whole thing ended this evening?

“Bah humbug.” No. Kevin [Spacey], he’s been really supportive.  I think it’s a film that he really loved, and he’s told me. “House of Cards” is the reason I’m here. I’ve been working to that point 12 years, very steady employment for the most part, and then was finally able to be on something that really resonated with people in a way that honestly was a real shift in the culture. “House of Cards” was the first binge‑watched show that was ever binge watched, and so to be a part of that and that being something that feels really authentic for our culture and a real option in how we view and absorb and embrace content, that was that show. And so that’s the reason I’ve been able to put certain things together and even have this moment because of the four years I spent on “House of Cards.”

You seem to have very eclectic taste when it comes to picking your roles. Are you working on a project that you could share with us?

Well, there’s a project called “Alita: Battle Angel: that Robert Rodriguez is directing and James Cameron did in Austin. And I’m really excited about that. I actually play two parts in that film. That was a blast, and I literally wrapped that maybe two weeks ago. But then after that, I’m going to start something in a couple of months, and just honestly excited to read scripts and to have meetings and hopefully work with some more extraordinarily talented people like Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, and this wonderful cast and crew of “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures.” So I just feel very, very blessed to have had this award season and this experience.

What would you like to tell your newborn daughter right now in this world, that fatherly advice?

Just pray to be guided to your excellence. That’s it.

And winning an Oscar, that’s a journey that many actors want to be on, and it is a dream, and when they reach that dream, what’s next? So what is next for you?  And also, who are some of your role models that you have idolized?

So as far as what’s next, I think I’m going to try this way. I’m going to just look for material that I am inspired by and that I respond to and just try to do my best work, you know, and keep it about the work, working with great directors and writers and other extraordinary talented actors, because you want to be around people who are better than you and who can lift you up where you have raise your game. And I want to be inspired and just improve and do work that makes me uncomfortable, that scares me because anytime you get into the unknown, you get into that fearful space, that’s when you’re in new territory and you have the greatest opportunity to grow and improve as a talent or as an actor, an artist, and as a human being.

It’s very difficult to separate them for me, you know? So that’s how I would like to approach moving forward. And I think you asked me about who inspired me? Well, look, you know, we could talk about it till I’m some version of blue in the face, but the diversity topic, it’s very real in that when I was growing up—I’m 43 years old; I was born in 1974—and there weren’t a lot of [African-American] people on TV and films. When Billy Dee Williams was in “Star Wars,” like that was a big deal in my house and in my family, and it was somebody who was in the story that I could kind of attach to and say, Oh, wow, we’re present as well.

But for me, that person has always been Denzel Washington because, one, he’s just so damn talented. But, then, two, to see someone who comes from your tribe, so to speak, play at the level of all the other great ones and do it so well and be able to articulate his voice and his talent in a way that was on par with the very best, and he looks like you, too. You know what I mean, in that like, “Wow, there’s somebody who could be an uncle of mine.” Like, those are things that play in your mind as you move forward.

And also what I love about Denzel is not that he’s a great black actor, he’s a great actor. I’ve never looked at myself as a black actor. I’m an actor who happens to be African American, but I just want an opportunity to respond to material and bring whatever I bring to it in some unique fashion, and that’s it. But basically short story long, Denzel.

2017 Academy Awards: ‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture; ‘La La Land’ wins 6 Oscars

January 27, 2017

by Carla Hay

For the first time in Oscar history, a colossal mistake was made in announcing the winner for Best Picture. The mishap occurred at the 89th Annual Academy Awards, which were presented at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on February 26, 2017.  In a stunning turn of events, the drama “Moonlight” won the prize, but only after presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced that “La La Land” was the winner and after the producers of “La La Land” gave their acceptance speeches. A visibly embarrassed Beatty explained that he had been given the wrong envelope, and that he was reading from a card that announced “La La Land” star Emma Stone as Best Actress, an award she had won earlier in the evening.

“La La Land” had widely been predicted to win Best Picture since it went into the ceremony with a record 14 nominations. The contemporary musical “La La Land” tied the record previously held by 1950’s “All About Eve” and 1997’s “Titanic,” which each had 14 Oscar nominations. In the end, “La La Land” won six Oscars, including Best Actress for Stone and Best Director for Damien Chazelle, who at 32 years old became the youngest person to win in that category.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the ceremony, which was telecast in the U.S. on ABC. He jokingly chastised Beatty for the mistake by saying, “Warren, what did you do?” Some of the antics that Kimmel did during the telecast included taking an unsuspecting group of tourists on a front-row journey through the theater; poking fun at his friend Matt Damon in their ongoing mock feud; and making snacks wrapped in lacy packages that  rain down on the audience.

Only two other movies received more than one Oscar at the ceremony: “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Manchester by the Sea,”  which won two awards each.

Mahershala Ali, Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Casey Affleck at the 89th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on February 26, 2017. (Photo by Tyler Golden/ABC)

The 89th Academy Awards also set a record for the most nominations for African-Americans and other people of color. For the first time in Academy Awards history, people of color were nominated in all of the major categories in the same year: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The ethnic diversity in the nominees came after the Academy changed its membership policies in 2016 to include more women and people of color, following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that slammed the Oscars for not having any African-American nominees in the actor/actress categories for the 2016 and 2015 ceremonies. In the end, African-Americans won in three major categories at the 2017 Academy Awards: Viola Davis of “Fences” won for Best Supporting Actress, while “Moonlight” star Mahershala Ali won for Best Supporting Actor and “Moonlight” writer/director Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won for Best Adapted Screenplay. (The award for Best Picture is given to the film’s producers. Jenkins was not a producer of “Moonlight.”)

The nominations for the 2017 Oscars were also noteworthy for the strides made by streaming services. “Manchester by the Sea” because the first movie from a streaming service (Amazon) not a traditional film studio, to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. “Manchester by the Sea” ultimately won two Oscars: Best Actor (for Casey Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay (for Kenneth Lonergan).

The documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” which was an ESPN miniseries totaling more than seven hours, qualified for the Academy Awards because “O.J.: Made in America” had a limited run in U.S. theaters. “O.J.: Made in America” won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, making it the longest movie to win in that category.

Here is the complete list of winners for the 79th Annual Academy Awards:

***= winner

Best Picture
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Manchester by the Sea”

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”***
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”***
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”***
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, “Fences”***
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Director
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”***
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Arrival,” Eric Heisserer
“Fences,” August Wilson
“Hidden Figures,” Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
“Lion,” Luke Davies
“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney***

Best Original Screenplay
“20th Century Women,” Mike Mills
“Hell or High Water,” Taylor Sheridan
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle
“The Lobster,” Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan***

Best Cinematography
“Arrival,” Bradford Young
“La La Land,” Linus Sandgren***
“Lion,” Greig Fraser
“Moonlight,” James Laxton
“Silence,” Rodrigo Prieto

Best Documentary Feature
“13th,” Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish
“Fire at Sea,” Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
“I Am Not Your Negro,” Raoul Peck, Remi Grellety and Hebert Peck
“Life, Animated,” Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
“O.J.: Made in America,” Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow***

Best Documentary Short Subject
“4.1 Miles,” Daphne Matziaraki
“Extremis,” Dan Krauss
“Joe’s Violin,” Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
“Watani: My Homeland,” Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis
“The White Helmets,” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara***

Best Foreign Language Film
“Land of Mine,” Martin Zandvliet (Denmark)
“A Man Called Ove,” Hannes Holm (Sweden)
“The Salesman,” Asghar Farhadi (Iran)***
“Tanna,” Martin Butler and Bentley Dean (Australia)
“Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade (Germany)

Best Animated Feature
“Kubo and the Two Strings,” Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
“Moana,” John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer
“My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras and Max Karli
“The Red Turtle,” Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
“Zootopia,” Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer***

Best Animated Short
“Blind Vaysha,” Theodore Ushev
“Borrowed Time,” Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes,” Robert Valley and Cara Speller
“Pearl,” Patrick Osborne
“Piper,” Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer***

Best Live Action Short Film
“Ennemis Interieurs,” Selim Azzazi
“La Femme et le TGV,” Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
“Silent Nights,” Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
“Sing,” Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy***
“Timecode,” Juanjo Gimenez

Best Original Score
“Jackie,” Mica Levi
“La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz***
“Lion,” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
“Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell
“Passengers,” Thomas Newman

Best Original Song
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul*
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” from “Trolls” — Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
“City of Stars” from “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul***
“The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story” — Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
“How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” — Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Best Production Design
“Arrival,” Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock
“Hail, Caesar!,” Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
“La La Land,” David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco***
“Passengers,” Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena

Best Makeup and Hair
“A Man Called Ove,” Eva von Bahr and Love Larson
“Star Trek Beyond,” Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
“Suicide Squad,” Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson***

Best Costume Design
“Allied,” Joanna Johnston
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Colleen Atwood***
“Florence Foster Jenkins,” Consolata Boyle
“Jackie,” Madeline Fontaine
“La La Land,” Mary Zophres

Best Film Editing
“Arrival,” Joe Walker
“Hacksaw Ridge,” John Gilbert***
“Hell or High Water,” Jake Roberts
“La La Land,” Tom Cross
“Moonlight,” Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

Best Sound Editing
“Arrival,” Sylvain Bellemare***
“Deepwater Horizon,” Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
“La La Land,” Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“Sully,” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Best Sound Mixing
“Arrival,” Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace***
“La La Land,” Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

Best Visual Effects
“Deepwater Horizon,” Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
“Doctor Strange,” Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
“The Jungle Book,” Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon***
“Kubo and the Two Strings,” Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

Barry Jenkins, Janelle Monáe and the ‘Moonlight’ team backstage at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards

January 9, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 74th annual Golden Globe Awards took place on January 8, 2017, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.


Golden Globe win:

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama


Here is what these Golden Globe winners said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.

"Moonlight" team at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards
“Moonlight” team at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 8, 2017. (Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images)


What did it mean to you to be able to show Miami on screen?

Barry Jenkins (writer/director): It meant the world to me. You know, the whole the whole point of this film for Tarell Alvin McCraney, the playwright, and I was to tell a very truthful story about how we grew up. And so are going to Miami to make the film because this story I think not that is universally I think is very specific, to be honest, but we could have told the story in New Orleans you could’ve told in Atlanta, Georgia, where our budget would have gone much farther than did in Florida where there’s no tax incentives.

But Tarell and I are both from Miami, so the city—kind of cliché to say it—it was a character, but it really was a character in this film and whenever people see this movie I feel like they come to Miami. They sit down with us the experience what it’s like to grow up there. And then to have all these journalists from all over the world have taken this trip to Miami and award the film is proof positive that we did the right thing by sticking to our guns and shooting in Miami.

Janelle, this film deals with one of the toughest things that some people go through in this country on being young especially African-American coming out. Can you talk about performing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in place of Kim Burrell, whose performance was cancelled after her anti-gay speech?

Janelle Monáe: I’m pro-love. I’ve been very supportive of love. And at the end of the day, I think that no matter where you come from and who you love, you deserve to have a right to the American Dream and to also have your story told. So I’m so thankful to be part of this true American story.

I’m thankful to be a part of a cast and a director who is pro-inclusion. And I just think that anybody who is representing hate is a part of the problem and I hope we can learn from each other and be more empathetic of one another and I hope that we can all remember the end of the day we all bleed the same color.

Why do you think people are responding “Moonlight” the way they are?

Jenkins: For me, I’m all about process and the process of making this film going back to day one on set … was about making universal film. It was about getting it right and being very specific to where we were with what the actors were giving us on the day and trying to speak truth to power in that.

And so I think in doing that I think the movie touches people because they see the authenticity that we put into it we were trying to do anything but tell our story. I think people respect that because often you try to tell a story that you believe someone is going to be willing to pay to hear. That was not our goal.

Our goal was to just speak truth as to Tarell’s experience and my experience they can doing that you can go to Katmandu or I can say I’ve been to London or Rome or Toronto will Telluride, these places so far removed, or the HFPA, the Philippines, to Russia all these different places and people respect the fact that oh no I’m not trying to make a story that relates to you in your place here right now. I think we need more that as we move into the next four years of life on this planet.

Barry, you dedicated this award to your mother. Has she seen “Moonlight” yet?

Jenkins: I think she wants to watch it on the small screen, which as a filmmaker, like no, you see it in the theater as big as possible but I think she wants to make her peace with it, woman to screen. I think she wants to engage the story on one level not in a room like this with a bunch of—I’d say for her—strangers. I do think we’ve been talking a lot more and the conversation has accelerated. I will say Naomi has given all these interviews, every interview she gives my mom watches and it.

And she has seen I think the care and thoughtfulness that they will be put into betraying her and I do think she’s getting you know I can’t rush her bit-by-bit, but she’s a step closer to I think sitting down and watching and some version you know myself and Tarell’s depiction of herself.

Do you think movies can change things socially?

Jenkins: I see what you’re saying, but … people have seen this film three times, four times, not as escapism but for realism. They want to go to the cinema and see something real reflected in all these films. No one could have anticipated that we would be sitting on the president-elect that we have coming into office in the next 12, 13 days. However, we all made these films because we felt something was lacking in the soil at the root these stories that hadn’t been told.

I don’t know if it was that these two things are coming together at the same time but we’re here now you know and we have to keep telling these stories very truthfully and honestly. And we have to give people things not to escape to this room for escapism but things they can run to reaffirm that not that all lives matter, I don’t want to step into that, but that you know what if you’re feeling something that you want to speak it? You speak it and someone there will be there to hear your truth. And I think that’s been the spirit of “Moonlight” so far.

To the actors, how specifically did you acted against each other especially in the three different acts and how each relationship was different moving forward to the story?

Mahershala Ali (co-star): Let me just say that one thing that we didn’t do was act against each other we always acted with each other. And this is the greatest joy my career.

Ashton Sanders (co-star): I agree.

Trevante Rhodes (co-star): Yeah, it was really just about sharing the moment issue in the space with beautiful people and being able to listen and react. That’s all it was and just understanding situation and understand who the person was. And trusting this man right here [he points to Jenkins].

Ashton and Trevante, you weren’t allowed to see each other during filming “Moonlight.” How important was that for the overall effect and were you surprised actually to find continuation within the characters when you saw them on screen?

Rhodes: I think it was very important because me personally I would have done any and everything I could to try and at least a little bit mimic what the younger versions were going to try and force some similarity within myself. And I think just not having to focus on that and again trusting Barry, trusting the script, trusting my idea who the person was the most important thing and allowing me to be free and to just embody the character and just leave it at that. That’s where I’m at.

Sanders: Just to back up what Travonte was saying, I think it allowed us to focus on our sections and our circumstances within our sections. Chiron is a different person having three parts of the film, so it allowed us to again focus on our circumstances and to tap into that time period of Chiron.

Can tell us how difficult it was to find the producers for “Moonlight” and how many countries has the movie been sold?

Jenkins: A24 sold the movie to—and I’ll say ballpark—20 territories internationally, which is amazing for a film set in this world featuring these characters. I will say the myth has been propagated about what a film with a cast that looks like this in a story that’s set in this world where it can show where people come out and see it. This movie has defied—I won’t say expectations—but I think those perceptions.

I made a movie in 2008 called “Medicine for Melancholy”— a very small film, $15,000 budget. And the good folks at Plan B saw that film. We started talking; nothing came of it. I think I wasn’t ready at that point. And when I had the screenplay for “Moonlight” with my first producer, Adele Romanski, who I went to film school with, the cinematographer and both editors also went to film school with me at Florida State University, we sent the script to Plan B, and they read it and immediately they said that they wanted to get involved. They had seen the first film and thought, “What can this guy  do? Look at what these people do with a larger canvas.”

And then from Plan B, they take it to A24. A24 at that point only distributed films, not finance them, but they believed in our voice so much—I’ll say Tarell’s and my voice—that they literally opened a new lane, as the kids say. And they are in their business to finance the film. It was the first film financed by A24. From there it was just like an open door. It was like, “This is the budget here and the parameters. Go out and make the film you want to make.” It was a beautiful process.

They allowed me to do the things I wanted to do. And yet they asked questions and those questions always led to answers, but they allowed me to decide when the answer has been reached. So it was a beautiful process. I feel very fortunate very privileged to have made this film with Plan B, A24 and Adele Romanski. Thank you very much. Much love to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

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