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Oscars flap eclipses 'Moonlight' win, but civility reigns

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/27/2017 By LINDSEY BAHR, AP Film Writer
Barry Jenkins, foreground center, and the cast accept the award for best picture for "Moonlight" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Barry Jenkins, foreground center, and the cast accept the award for best picture for "Moonlight" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The 89th Academy Awards got off on the right foot, with a song and dance, but ended with the most stunning mistake ever to befall the esteemed awards show when the best picture Oscar was presented to the wrong movie. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, holding an incorrect envelope, wrongly presented the top prize to "La La Land" instead of "Moonlight."

Jordan Horowitz, producer of "La La Land," mistakenly accepts the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jordan Horowitz, producer of "La La Land," mistakenly accepts the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

The moment at the conclusion of the Sunday-night show was so jaw-dropping, it eclipsed everything else in a ceremony that was packed to the brim with Donald Trump jabs, fun stunts, heartfelt positivity and a stunning upset by "Moonlight" over what had been a "La La" juggernaut throughout the awards season. Yet somehow, even the embarrassing moment pivoted into grace.

Jordan Horowitz, foreground center, and the cast of "La La Land" mistakenly accept the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. It was later announced that "Moonlight," was the winner for best picture. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jordan Horowitz, foreground center, and the cast of "La La Land" mistakenly accept the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. It was later announced that "Moonlight," was the winner for best picture. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

As confusion and bafflement overwhelmed those in the Dolby Theatre and at home on their couches, "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins and "La La Land" director Damien Chazelle shared a hug on the back of the stage, out of sight from the television cameras.

Jordan Horowitz, left, of "La La Land," mistakenly accepts the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. It was later determined that "Moonlight," won best picture. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jordan Horowitz, left, of "La La Land," mistakenly accepts the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. It was later determined that "Moonlight," won best picture. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"The folks of 'La La Land' were so gracious. I can't imagine being in their position and having to do that," Jenkins told reporters backstage. "It was unfortunate that things happened as they did but, goddamn, we won best picture."

Tarell Alvin McCraney, center, and Barry Jenkins accept the award for best adapted screenplay for "Moonlight" as Amy Adams, left, watches on at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Tarell Alvin McCraney, center, and Barry Jenkins accept the award for best adapted screenplay for "Moonlight" as Amy Adams, left, watches on at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Oscar tabulators PwC, in their 83rd year providing the service to the academy, later apologized in a statement and are investigating why it happened.

Damien Chazelle poses in the press room with the award for best director for "La La Land" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Damien Chazelle poses in the press room with the award for best director for "La La Land" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

There's no denying, though, that "Moonlight's" win over "La La Land" was a massive upset, made only more pointed by the envelope gaffe. Chazelle's candy-colored musical was widely presumed to be a shoo-in for the top prize after its record-tying 14 nominations and a relative sweep of the awards season. The film still won six Oscars, including best director for Chazelle, who at 32 became the youngest ever to take the prize, and for score, song ("City of Stars") and actress to Emma Stone.

Halle Berry, right, presents Damien Chazelle with the award for best director for "La La Land" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Halle Berry, right, presents Damien Chazelle with the award for best director for "La La Land" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The actress, who pledged her deep love of "Moonlight," said later, "Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time? Cool!"

Barry Jenkins, foreground left, and the cast accept the award for best picture for "Moonlight" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Barry Jenkins, foreground left, and the cast accept the award for best picture for "Moonlight" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The best picture mix-up apparently wasn't the only gaffe at the Oscars. An Australian film producer's photo was mistakenly included in the "In Memoriam" tribute. Jan Chapman's photo was shown with the name of Janet Patterson, an Australian costume designer who died in 2015. The Academy didn't respond to a request for comment.

Emma Stone accepts the award for best actress in a leading role for "La La Land" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Emma Stone accepts the award for best actress in a leading role for "La La Land" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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The academy usually throws awards at films that gaze lovingly at Hollywood, but Barry Jenkins' heartfelt coming-of-age drama seduced academy voters in the end — a subtle tide change perhaps informed by both a prickly political climate and an urgent imperative to honor more diverse films after two consecutive years of OscarsSoWhite.

Emma Stone poses the award winner for best actress in a leading role for "La La Land attends the Governors Ball after the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Al Powers/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Emma Stone poses the award winner for best actress in a leading role for "La La Land attends the Governors Ball after the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Al Powers/Invision/AP)

Diversity could be found in every corner of the awards this year, with supporting acting wins for "Moonlight's" Mahershala Ali and "Fences'" Viola Davis, although the best actor category proved to be a bit of an upset when Casey Affleck won for "Manchester by the Sea" over Denzel Washington of "Fences," who had picked up momentum in recent weeks.

Casey Affleck, winner of the award for best actor in a leading role for "Manchester by the Sea", appears backstage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Casey Affleck, winner of the award for best actor in a leading role for "Manchester by the Sea", appears backstage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

The improvement followed efforts by Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to diversify the membership of the largely white, older and male film academy. "Tonight is proof that art has no borders, no single language and does not belong to a single faith," said Isaacs.

Mahershala Ali poses in the press room with the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Moonlight" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Mahershala Ali poses in the press room with the award for best actor in a supporting role for "Moonlight" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Davis gave a particularly powerful speech in which she praised the late "Fences" playwright August Wilson who, she said, "Exhumed and exalted the ordinary people." Kimmel said later that Davis, "Just got nominated for an Emmy for that speech."

Viola Davis accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for "Fences" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Viola Davis accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for "Fences" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Ezra Edelman, whose nearly eight-hour epic "O.J.: Made in America" took best documentary, dedicated the award to the victims of the famous crime, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Anousheh Ansari accepts the award for best foreign language film for "The Salesman" on behalf of Asghar Farhadi at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Anousheh Ansari accepts the award for best foreign language film for "The Salesman" on behalf of Asghar Farhadi at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Rich Moore, one of the three directors of Disney's best animated film winner "Zootopia," described the movie as about "tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other."

Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The majority of speeches were moving and personal and generally in praise of art's ability to create empathy in the world, including Jenkins' in his win for adapted screenplay, who said, "All you people out there who feel like there isn't a mirror out there for you, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you." But not one speech came close to Meryl Streep's Golden Globes barnburner.

Host Jimmy Kimmel tweets President Donald Trump #Merylsayshi during the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Host Jimmy Kimmel tweets President Donald Trump #Merylsayshi during the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"Personally, I didn't say anything because my head was completely blank," Affleck said backstage of his not political speech.

Instead, politics stayed largely with host Jimmy Kimmel, who kept his barbs coy and irreverent, stating at the start that he wasn't the man to unite the country.

The host peppered the evening with digs at President Trump, at one point asking the crowd to stand for the "overrated Meryl Streep," and, later, for any news outlet with the word "Times" in its name to leave, saying, "We have no tolerance for fake news."

Kimmel even jokingly thanked the president for shifting the focus of the night.

"Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?" he said in the opening.

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The evening's most blunt protests against Trump came not from the A-list stars but from foreigners, a few of whom were not even in attendance and could communicate their sentiments only through statements.

Kimmel, as if predicting that this would be the case, said early that the Oscars are watched by 225 countries "that now hate us."

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Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose "The Salesman" won best foreign film, his second win in the category, did not attend the ceremony in protest of Trump's travel ban to seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian astronaut, read a statement from Farhadi.

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"I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight," it read. "My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S."

Gael Garcia Bernal, the Mexican actor, while presenting an award, also declared: "As a migrant worker, as a Mexican, and as a human being, I am against any wall."

But, of course, the big best picture mistake will be the thing that history remembers about the 89th Academy Awards.

"Let's remember this is just an awards show," Kimmel said at the close. "I knew I would screw this show up, I really did. I promise I'll never come back."

___

AP Film Writer Jake Coyle contributed from Los Angeles.

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