The 89th Academy Awards: From Blissful Night to PR Nightmare

By Julia Siegel, Contributing Writer

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Photo courtesy of Disney | ABC Television Group (Flickr)

It was an enjoyable Sunday night as the Academy Awards ceremony played out. The show was funny, heartwarming, and plain entertaining for three-and-a-half hours. As the clock struck midnight, it seemed that all bliss and sanity checked out of the Dolby Theater. The bewitching hour came and ruined the 89th Annual Academy Awards forever. The evening went from a fantastic hosting performance from Jimmy Kimmel to phenomenal musical performances to the biggest live PR nightmare to grace television.

As we all know, the Academy screwed up big time during the reveal of Best Picture and by giving Suicide Squad an award. These two moments will go down in history as badges of disgrace for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. There is no excuse for the horror that ensued during the Best Picture announcement. Warren Beatty, what possessed you to say that La La Land was awarded Best Picture if the card in the envelope specifically said “Emma Stone – La La Land, Best Actress”? The fact that both Beatty and Faye Dunaway looked at the card, shrugged, and made the announcement was ludicrous.

No one would be making fun of either of them if they had immediately spoken up and said that they thought there was a mistake. Beatty should have taken one look at the card and asked for clarification, which would have cleared things up without creating a terrible moment. Secondly, after Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner, the producers should have cut the music and come onto the loud speakers to say that there was a mistake. Why did it take several minutes to come to the conclusion that the wrong envelope was taken to the stage? Why did the Academy let the entire La La Land crew get up on stage, cry in front of everyone, give beautiful speeches, and accept one of the loudest ovations for Best Picture I have ever heard if it was not the winner?

Thirdly, and most importantly, this major gaffe caused Moonlight to lose its moment in the spotlight. As much as I am personally against Moonlight winning Best Picture, they deserved to have the moment that La La Land had. Since the La La Land crew had already given speeches and the show was approximately 40 minutes over time, the show’s producers did not give Moonlight’s producers time to give acceptance speeches. The whole night was ruined for La La Land’s crew, Moonlight’s crew, the audience, the viewers at home and even Kimmel because the wrong envelope was given to the presenters.

I want to take a moment and give some major props to the way La La Land’s producers handled the mistake. They were so gracious and immediately corrected the mistake as soon as a stage producer ran out to confront them with the correct envelope. It was a moment of serious sportsmanship that was handled so much better than could be expected in the heat of the moment. It was also very nice that the Moonlight producers took a moment to say that they wanted to share the spotlight with La La Land’s crew and that they were equally deserving.

Lastly, Kimmel almost gets the worst end of the stick in this situation. The poor guy was clearly trying not to show how upset he was that something had gone wrong. Unfortunately, the show will go down in history and be remembered as “the time the Best Picture statues were given out to the wrong people” instead of “the time that Kimmel slayed it as host of the Oscars.”

Kimmel did a wonderful job keeping the show, and his jokes, fresh and maintaining an exciting pace over the entire show. Typically, the show drags a bit in the middle of the technical categories, but the sketches and clips shown throughout the telecast really helped keep a lighter, more entertaining atmosphere. Kimmel does not deserve to be forgotten for his hosting, but I fear that he was already forgotten just hours after the show ended.

Briefly, the other major stain on the Academy’s reputation was the Best Makeup and Hairstyling award going to Suicide Squad. The fact that the Academy could even give a nomination to a disaster of a film like Suicide Squad was atrocious, but giving it the award is appalling. It does not matter that the award is for makeup and hairstyling or if it had been an acting nomination: Suicide Squad will always be known as an Academy Award winner. The film is a slightly better piece of trash than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. For anyone who has not seen it, do not waste your time. Terrible films should not be awarded with anything other than a Razzie award, not even in lesser categories like makeup and hairstyling.

This award gives validation to DC Entertainment, which it is so beyond undeserving of. They have done a horrific job of creating a new franchise, as it has potential to completely disintegrate by the end of 2017. I seriously cannot understand why the Academy voted for Suicide Squad over any other film. Between the Best Picture disaster (both literally on stage and clearly choosing the wrong film) and Suicide Squad winning, the 89th Academy Awards were completely ruined.

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