LOS ANGELES (CBS News/AP) — The coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” is the winner of the best picture Academy Award.
A historic Oscar upset and an unprecedented fiasco that saw one winner swapped for another while the “La La Land” producers were in mid-speech.READ MORE: Striking Kellogg's Workers Receiving 3% Raises In New Contract
As CBS News’ Ned Ehbar, writes, “The Oscars kept viewers guessing all the way to the end — and even after it — with “Moonlight” coming in as a surprise best picture winner after the award was mistakenly given to “La La Land” first.”
Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway — celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Bonnie and Clyde” — apparently took the wrong envelope – the one for best actress winner Emma Stone – onto the stage. When they realized the mistake, representatives for ballot tabulators Price Waterhouse Coopers raced onstage to try to stop the acceptance speech.
But backstage, Stone said she was holding her winning envelope at the time. “I think everyone’s in a state of confusion still,” said Stone. Later the actress, who pledged her deep love of “Moonlight,” added, “Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time? Cool!” Kenneth Lonergan, who won best screenplay for his “Manchester by the Sea,” joked to reporters, “It turned out that we actually won best picture.”
It was, nevertheless, a shocking upset considering that “La La Land” came in with 14 nominations, a record that tied it with “Titanic” and “All About Eve.” Barry Jenkins’ tender, bathed-in-blue coming-of-age drama, made for just $1.5 million, is an unusually small Oscar winner. Having made just over $22 million as of Sunday at the box office, it’s one of the lowest grossing best-picture winners ever – but also one of the most critically adored.
“Even in my dreams this cannot be true,” said an astonished Jenkins, once he reached the stage. “Moonlight,” released by indie distributor A24, also had some major muscle behind it, including Brad Pitt’s Plan B, which also backed the 2015 winner “12 Years a Slave.”
Host Jimmy Kimmel had come forward to inform the cast that “Moonlight” had indeed won, showing the inside of the envelope as proof. “I knew I would screw this up,” said Kimmel, a first-time host.READ MORE: 87% Of Michigan's COVID ICU Patients Unvaccinated, Hospital Association Says
Producer Jordan Horwitz then graciously passed his statue to the “Moonlight” producers. “I noticed the commotion that was happening and I thought that something strange had occurred,” Jenkins said backstage. “The last 20 minutes of my life have been insane.” He said that backstage, Beatty insisted on showing the wrong envelope to him before anyone else. “This is not a joke.”
The film tells the story of a boy’s journey to adulthood through his rough upbringing in Miami. The film stars Naomie Harris as the boy’s drug-addicted mother, and Mahershala Ali as a drug dealer-turned mentor for the boy.
“Moonlight” has provided some of the stiffest competition during Hollywood’s awards season for the musical “La La Land,” which was nominated for a history-tying 14 Academy Awards.
Later, Price Waterhouse Coopers issued this statement:
“We sincerely apologize to “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.
“We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”
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