Oscars: La La Land illuminated by Moonlight | Sunday Observer

Oscars: La La Land illuminated by Moonlight

Despite the last-minute gaffe at the recently concluded Oscars where the Best Picture was initially announced as La La land, only to be corrected a little later as Moonlight, the Oscars 89th Edition offered a night of glamour and entertainment that is unique to Hollywood.

Although everyone is still talking about the mix-up which has now been attributed to a distracted Price Waterhouse Coopers accountant, one significant fact went almost unnoticed.

This was the first time that a streaming studio won three Academy Awards (the real name for the Oscars – that name was coined when one of the Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science said the person depicted by the war resembled his uncle Oscar).

Amazon Studios owned by Amazon Inc won the awards for Manchester by the Sea (Best Actor Casey Affleck, best screenplay) and The Salesman (best foreign language movie, Iran). Amazon’s main streaming rival Netflix received one award for a documentary short-subject, “The White Helmets,” about civilian first responders in Syria. The wins mark a turning point in the film industry, with streaming Internet services entering serious competition with major movie studios.

The rest was business as usual, though this year’s Oscars was overtly more political than in other years with many artistes and host Jimmy Kimmel expressing various opinions about US President Donald Trump.

And there was one other very embarrassing mistake - Although the name of Australian costume designer Janet Patterson (who died in 2016) appeared in the In Memoriam montage, the picture of producer Jan Chapman (who didn’t die in 2016 and is very much alive) was put on screen.

If you watched carefully, there was one other deliberate ‘mistake’ – when Ben Affleck (Casey’s brother) and his best friend Matt Damon (of Jason Bourne fame) walked in to present an award, Damon was referred to by an off-screen announcer as a “guest” without mentioning his name. It is no secret that Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Daman have a longstanding albeit ‘friendly’ feud and Kimmel had wanted to refer to Daman as a “guest”. Politics and mistakes aside, it was pure entertainment all the way, watched by millions of people worldwide.

La La Land did not win the best picture or best actor award, but it did get Emma Stone an award for best actress (although to be politically correct, the word ‘actor’ is now applied both male and female thespians, Hollywood still uses the former term for this particular award) for her scintillating performance. Her movie partner, Ryan Gosling was good, but not good enough.

La La Land did scoop six other awards from its record 14 nominations though. (Only two other movies – All About Eve and Titanic have that many nominations). The film won six Oscars: Directing (Damien Chazelle), Actress (Emma Stone), Original Score (Justin Hurwitz), Song (“City of Stars”), Cinematography (Linus Sandgren), and Production Design (David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco).

But what about the little movie “Moonlight” that beat La La land for the best picture ? First of all, the fact that it made it to the Oscars at all is shocking. Shot for a minuscule budget of just US$ 1.6 million, Moonlight is an art film about the coming-of-age of a homosexual black man in Miami, as he attempts to overcome both, the extreme poverty he lives in and his own complicated feelings about his sexuality.

It is told in three different timelines, following the main character as a little boy, a teenager, and an adult, and its unusual triptych structure helped make it one of the biggest critical hits of the year. Most critics say its award was well deserved. The film is based on the book In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Interestingly, one of Moonlight’s stars - Mahershala Ali – became the first-ever Muslim actor to win an Academy Award. Best supporting actress Viola Davis, star of Fences, made history as the first black woman to win an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony for acting.

This was in stark contrast to last year’s “Oscars So White” allegations. Plenty of coloured artists had received nominations this year. Auli’i Cravalho, an actress of Chinese, Irish, Native Hawaiian, Portuguese and Puerto Rican descent, sang a song on stage. Sunny Pawar, an eight-year-old boy who was born and raised in a Mumbai slum and starred in ‘Lion’, got a kind word or two from Kimmel.

When the stars of Hidden Figures arrived to announce the winner for best documentary feature, with them came Katherine Johnson, the 98-year-old African-American woman who was one of the real-life inspirations behind the space race drama. She received a standing ovation.

It was a great and entertaining night that only Hollywood can conjure up. We have one full year to see and review the movies of 2017 that will make it to the awards season of 2018. Until, then, the 2017 Oscar memories will linger on, led by THAT mistake. 

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