Before the next award was presented, Jimmy Kimmel got to have his own little moment reflecting on a movie that influenced him...
Ben Affleck & Matt Damon both got to present the award for Best Original Screenplay in honor of the 20th anniversary of their breakout film, Good Will Hunting, despite the fact that Manchester By the Sea (a film produced by Damon and starring Ben's younger brother, Casey) was in contention. While that film entered the season as the logical frontrunner, La La Land’s winning streak became intrusive, achieving a tie at the Critics’ Choice Awards and stealing the combined Best Screenplay award at the Golden Globes. With Moonlight taking the prize from the Writers Guild, we were left with a strong two-way battle between La La Land and Manchester By the Sea for the Oscar. With the hit musical steamrolling through the season, it could've picked up the Original Screenplay prize for its romantic dialogue and endearing story.
Though the last time a movie musical ended up winning a screenplay award was Gigi back in 1959. So therefore, the BAFTA-winning screenplay prevailed. Amy Adams then got to present the award for Best Adapted Screenplay despite the fact that her film, Arrival, was in contention (which she was also egregiously overlooked for a Best Actress nomination).
Moonlight had actually moved from Original Screenplay to Adapted Screenplay midway through the season. While it was a chief competitor in this category, it was also untested against its fellow adapted nominees like Arrival, Fences, and Lion. While Moonlight got a big boost from its Writers Guild win the week before, it was in the Original category, beating heavyweights La La Land and Manchester By the Sea. There was little to no insight as to how it would behave on the other side of the Screenplay fence, and voters could've been used to seeing Arrival or Lion checked off for this award, missing Moonlight by default. Though the little film that could prevailed in this category.
Next, Halle Berry (with some strange hairdo) presented the award for Best Director.
With wins everywhere from Critics’ Choice to Golden Globes to DGA to BAFTA, Damien Chazelle became the youngest person to have ever won the Oscar for Best Director at age 32. I absolutely would've voted for him as I thought La La Land was the best directed film of 2016.
Brie Larson (who had won Best Actress the year before for Room) then got to present the award for Best Actor, where Casey Affleck was the runaway frontrunner with tons of critics’ wins and a Golden Globe trophy. He was virtually undefeated in Best Actor contests until he lost the most important precursor for acting categories, the Screen Actors Guild Award, to competitor Denzel Washington for Fences. Though that may have been a result of Washington having never won a SAG before. While Affleck was a new presence at the Oscars, Washington is a legendary two-time winner whose star power could've carried him to Oscar victory. Affleck scored a rebound victory at BAFTA where Washington was snubbed completely, but they did do a rematch at the Oscars.
While they both played scoundrels in their respective films, Casey Affleck’s character in Manchester By the Sea was a little more sympathetic than Denzel’s character in Fences. Though one could probably sympathize with Denzel as you watch his reaction to the aftermath. Then Leonardo DiCaprio (who had won Best Actor the year before for The Revenant) came out to present Best Actress.
Earlier in the season, Natalie Portman looked like the one to beat for her transformative performance as Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie. However, she shockingly lost the Golden Globe to Isabelle Huppert, and ended up losing both SAG and BAFTA to Emma Stone. Stone then became the solid frontrunner to win for her role as the aspiring young actress, Mia Dolan in the Best Picture frontrunner, La La Land. Though she was still vulnerable since her role didn’t have a lot of gravitas compared to her fellow nominees, and she was also just playing herself. Huppert seemed like an alternative given the respect she has as a veteran actress in her native country, France. She may have won the Globe, but she wasn’t nominated at SAG and wasn’t eligible at BAFTA, something that pretty much hurt Sylvester Stallone’s chances of winning Best Supporting Actor for Creed the year before.
In the end, the Academy's usual choice for Best Actress (the ingénue) prevailed. Now on to the final award of the night, here we go...
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Bonnie & Clyde, Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty reunited on the Oscars stage to present Best Picture. In fact, what I loved about how Best Picture was presented last year was that they did a clip montage of all the nominees. In terms of what (almost) everyone thought was going to win, it looked like there was no stopping La La Land. The film had won everywhere from Critics’ Choice to Golden Globes to PGA to BAFTA. It was about to become the 11th movie musical in history to have won the Oscar for Best Picture.
So after the clip montage, Warren Beatty hesitated with announcing the winner. At first, I thought he was struggling trying to say "And the Oscar Goes To..." as he was almost 80 years old. But Faye Dunaway took the envelope, caught one brief look at it, and announced La La Land as the Best Picture of 2016. As the producers were giving their acceptance speeches, some crew members were seen coming on stage for some mysterious reason before Jordan Horowitz revealed to the world that Moonlight had actually won.
Warren then explained to the audience that when he opened the envelope that was handed to him, it was actually a duplicate for Best Actress which stated 'Emma Stone - La La Land'. When Stone came backstage after winning her category, one of the accounting firm people took a picture of her (which he was not allowed to do), which led to him accidentally handing Beatty the wrong envelope. Since the incident, the accounting firm people from last year have been banned from all future Oscar telecasts. Two new accounting firm people have been hired to replace them with a third that way if this incident were to happen again, they'd be able to resolve it much quicker.
As for La La Land losing, its unstoppable success with the nominations as well as its precursor prizes apparently led to the film becoming a target. Especially given that Best Picture in recent years has utilized a preferential voting system. Not to mention that it also didn't receive a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. No film since Braveheart back in 1995 has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture without a SAG Ensemble nomination. Originally, people wrote off that snub, thinking La La Land was really a two-hander with Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone. Except that Beasts of No Nation received a SAG Ensemble nomination the year before despite that cast consisting of three people. While La La Land didn't win Best Picture, it still won the most awards of the night (just like Cabaret, which lost Best Picture in 1972 to The Godfather).
As for Moonlight winning, that film was able to kill two birds with one stone. It not only became the first film with an all-black cast to have won Best Picture, but also the first film with the subject of LGBT to have done the same thing. Which seems like poetic justice to when Crash famously upsetted Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture back in 2005. Back then, Academy members were accused of homophobia, but with the addition of more diverse people in recent years, it seems that bias has ended.