About ten days ago a guy told me that Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros., 3.10) “ain’t yer mama’s Kong.” So I got in touch with a guy who’s had a certain level of involvement with Jordan Vogt-Roberts‘ film and asked if one could apply the term “comedic.” His reply: “I don’t believe ‘comedy’ would apply but comedic beats, definitely.” Great distinction! Wells to HE Community: Name a few well-respected films that no one would describe as “comedic” but which definitely have funny “beats.” Example: Karel Reisz‘s Who’ll Stop The Rain (’78), especially when it came to Richard Masur and Ray Sharkey‘s characters.
A just-posted N.Y. Times story by David Gelles and Sapna Maheshwari reports that PricewaterhouseCooper’s Brian Cullinan was the guy who fucked up by giving Warren Beatty the wrong envelope — not the one containing the winner of the Best Picture Oscar but the winner of the already presented Best Actress Oscar — i.e., La La Land‘s Emma Stone.
PricewaterhouseCooper’s Brian Cullinan (l.) and Martha L. Ruiz (r.)
Here’s how the story lays it out: “Two identical sets of sealed envelopes are stationed on either side of the stage. The two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners who oversee the voting process, Martha L. Ruiz and Brian Cullinan, each have a briefcase with a complete set of the envelopes.
“The envelope for Best Actress, the penultimate award of the night, came from one side of the stage. After Emma Stone accepted that honor, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty came out to present Best Picture award. But they were handed an envelope from the other side of the stage, where the other best actress envelope was still unopened.
“And Mr. Cullinan, who handed Mr. Beatty the envelope, clearly picked the wrong one.
“After Mr. Cullinan and Ms. Ruiz realized that the wrong winner had been announced, they notified the stage manager, which set in motion a chaotic scene watched by the celebrity crowd in attendance and tens of millions of viewers on television.
“Yet it still took more than two minutes between Ms. Dunaway announcing ‘La La Land‘ as Best Picture and an announcement from the La La Land producers that Moonlight was in fact the winner.”
But what happened really? Two movies got to take bows for having won Best Picture, the La La Land guys behaved really graciously, the whole world is talking a lot more about La La Land and Moonlight right now that if the mistake had never happened, and those who haven’t yet seen Moonlight and La La Land are damn sure going to see them now, either in theatres on via streaming. So it all kinda worked out in a good way.
So please don’t fire Cullinan — he fucked up, sure, but he also made everyone look good in a roundabout way. Be kind, be merciful, let him skate.
The following Gurus of Gold & Gold Derby know-it-alls were predicting a Denzel Washington win for Best Actor last night: GD‘s Tom O’Neil, Entertainment Weekly‘s Chris Rosen, NPR’s Eric Deggans, Vox‘s Gregg Ellwood, Today‘s Dave Karger, L.A. Times Mark Olsen, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, Rogerebert.com’s Susan Wloszczyna, L.A. Times‘ guy Glenn Whipp, Entertainment Weekly‘s Nicole Sperling, Yahoo Movies‘ Kevin Polowy, Hollywood Life‘s Bonnie Fuller, USA Today‘s Brian Truitt, Vanity Fair‘s Michael Hogan, Weekend Warrior‘s Ed Douglas, Fandango‘s Erik Davis, Fox News’ Tariq Khan, Rotten Tomatoes‘ Matt Atchity and Variety‘s Tim Gray. They were all DEAD-ASS WRONG because they believed that Denzel’s SAG win was the end-all and be-all. I hung tough with Casey through thick and thin, and look where we are today. Fuck being a fortune-teller — choose your favorites, stick to your guns and come what may.
A seemingly perturbed Denzel Washington during Casey Affleck’s acceptance speech after winning the Best Actor Oscar.
In his post-Oscar congratulation letter to Gold Derby‘s most accurate predictors, Tom O’Neil closed his email with “SPECIAL CONGRATS to Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone and Rotten Tomatoes‘ Matt Atchity for nailing Moonlight as Best Picture! Amazing!” Wait…Sasha changed her mind the day before the Oscars (i.e., on the morning of Saturday, 2.6) and she gets an “amazing”?
Naaah — not in my book. If you’re gonna make an accurate lone-wolf call, you have to make it known at least a few days if not a week before the Oscars. Changing your vote 36 hours prior to the big event is meaningless.
Keep in mind that Stone was predicting La La Land as of the final Gurus of Gold chart, which posted…what, two or three days before the show? Each and every Guru except the Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell predicted La La Land to win. In fact Howell’s #1 vote for Moonlight was characterized as a one-vote wonder. The fact is that nobody saw the Moonlight win coming, and yet some of them are now trying to make it sound like they half-knew it all along, or at least began to sense a shift in the wind at the very last second. Bullshit.
Can you imagine being backstage at the Oscars and realizing what had just happened, that the wrong card had been given to Warren Beatty and that the wrong film was being celebrated as the Best Picture winner and doing nothing for what seemed like a helluva long time? If I’d been in charge I would have rushed onto the stage immediately and told Beatty and the La La Land producers “guys, please don’t hate us but a really terrible mistake has happened…we’re so sorry to put you through this but Moonlight has won.” It took them forever to man up and set things straight.
53 years ago Sammy Davis Jr. got handed the wrong envelope also. His first task was to read off the nominees for Best Adapted or Treatment Music Score. But when it came to announcing the winner, the card Davis was handed said John Addison, whose work on Tony Richardson‘s Tom Jones would go on to win for Best Original Score. The card should have said that the winner was Andre Previn for his adapted work on Billy Wilder‘s Irma La Douce.
God, what a decorous, stiff-necked vibe prevailed at that 4.13.64 ceremony!
1963’s Best Picture Oscar went to Tom Jones, Tony Richardson won for Best Director, Sidney Poitier‘s performance in Lilies of the Field won the Best Actor Oscar, Patricia Neal‘s supporting performance in Hud won for Best Actress, her Hud costar Melvyn Douglas won for Best Supporting Actor and The VIP’s Margaret Rutherford won for Best Supporting Actress.
Nobody and I mean nobody was predicting a Best Picture win for Barry Jenkins‘ Moonlight, but it edged out La La Land all the same. So what happened?
Donald Trump happened, for the most part. Championing a small, sensitive film about a lonely closeted black dude from Miami — a film about love, compassion and overcoming fear as well as the bruisings of a bad parent — was the right thing to do in the face of a loathsome climate of alt-rightism and “make America [white] again.”
Obviously a large bloc of voters simply warmed to Moonlight for its intimacy and artistry. A good portion of these supporters, I suspect, had also been stubbornly insisting all through award season that La La Land was escapist fluff. Which anyone with a soul and a brain will tell you it definitely isn’t (or at least is a lot sadder and more melancholy than the lightweights realized). But the “say no to fantasy” clods wouldn’t budge.
L.A. Times columnist Glenn Whipp wrote last night that after giving Best Picture trophies to The Artist, Argo and Birdman Academy members had tired of honoring yet another film about struggling artists and the travails of the entertainment industry.
But at the end of the day, Moonlight won a Best Picture majority for the same reason that Asghar Farhadi‘s The Salesman took the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar — it was the right film to support in lieu of the ugliness in Washington.
Received last night from Jordan Ruimy: “Moonlight‘s Best Picture win was at least partly mandated by the racial politics of the moment.”
S.R.O. (Significant Russian Other) to me last night: “What is this Moonlight? Have you seen it?”
Me: “Yeah. Saw it last September. It’s small but good. Very well made. Didn’t exactly rock my plimsoul…”
S.R.O.: “As good as La La Land?” [Which she saw a few weeks ago and loved.]
Me: “Well, in my humble opinion, no. But it’s good. I respect it. It’s a thumbs-upper.”
12:15 am: For what it’s worth, a little while ago I ran into La La Land director-writer Damian Chazelle at the Lionsgate after-party, and I told him “You know what? What happened was super crazy but you guys are fine” and he totally agreed — “We’re good, we’re cool and all’s well…thanks for your support, good seein’ ya” and so on & blah blah. What happened tonight was a Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway comedy that wasn’t their fault. Mistakes happen, humans are fallible, etc. Good for Moonlight and good for La La Land — in my mind they both won because they both took Best Picture bows. But seriously, who fucked up? The world wants to know.