Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Feb. 27 2017 9:14 AM

15 Stars Reminisce About the Actors Who Used to Beat Them Out for Roles

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

In La La Land, Emma Stone’s character is confronted with a terrifying sight. Every time she walks into an audition, she’s surrounded by an intimidating array of other redheads, all waiting to read for the same role. It’s a plight many working actors can relate to; there are few other professions where you get such an up-close-and-personal look at the competition. But once those aspiring actors hit the big time, the experience also makes for fascinating stories. On red carpets during this awards season, we asked celebrities to spill about the actors who beat them out for roles earlier in their careers. Many demurred — that’s Hollywood for you — but a few were bold enough to name names.

Feb. 27 2017 4:25 AM

Forget the Embarrassing Mix-Up. The Real Story Is Moonlight’s Historic Win.

On Sunday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did exactly what every pundit predicted it would do and awarded La La Land the evening’s top prize, Best Picture.

And then the Oscars did something they never do, though they’ve given themselves plenty of opportunities: They realized they’d awarded the wrong movie. In perhaps the most bizarre and embarrassing moment in the ceremony’s 89-year history, a confused Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (Bonnie and Clyde themselves) initially announced that Damien Chazelle’s beloved musical La La Land had won. The nearly all-white team behind the critical darling ascended to the stage and proceeded to give awkward speeches championing “bold and diverse work” and in one case thanking a “generous, talented, beautiful, blue-eyed” spouse. But midway through the pomp, it became clear that something was amiss. Beatty and Dunaway had somehow ended up with the wrong envelope. Moments later, Jenkins and his cast and production team made their way to the center of the stage. And just like that, the academy got it absolutely right.

La La Land was the obvious choice that everyone expected the academy to make. Like three out of the past five Oscar winners—Birdman in 2015, Argo in 2013, and The Artist in 2011—it was a movie about movies, something the filmmaking academy, naturally, adores. It was also more acclaimed than all three of those previous movie-about-movie winners, and a bigger hit at the box office, too. But while normally one might look at such a self-congratulatory would-be choice, shrug, and say, “Oscars gonna Oscar,” the stakes, after the 2016 election, felt higher. It would have felt out of touch with the political moment to reward a movie about the struggles of privileged white people whose greatest obstacles are essentially scheduling conflicts.

Feb. 27 2017 3:44 AM

A Scientific Ranking of the Winners and Losers of the La La Land / Moonlight Best Picture Fiasco

Dunaway announced the wrong movie, the wrong guys gave the wrong victory speeches, and a lot of people got very frazzled. After a couple of minutes’ worth of happy La La Land producer talk about joy and hope, Moonlight was revealed as the real winner, the statuettes changed hands, and everyone was extremely confused.

Given that such a thing had never happened before, we shouldn’t be too hard on any of the presenters, producers, and broadcasters for how they reacted in the moment. Actually, forget that: Let’s grade the presenters, producers, and broadcasters for how they reacted in the moment. Below, we’ve ranked the leading figures in the La La Land / Moonlight Best Picture fiasco, starting with those who acquitted themselves the best and ending with the poor individuals who performed the worst under pressure.

Feb. 27 2017 3:25 AM

What Actually Happened During That Awful Oscar Gaffe? Let’s Review the Tape.

Not every show gets to be its own blooper reel, but Sunday night’s Academy Awards pulled it off, as Warren Beatty mistakenly announced La La Land was the Best Picture winner. (Spoiler: It was really Moonlight.)

Usually, this kind of Oscar screw-up happens in darkness—there’s no footage of the hundreds of academy voters accidentally circling The Greatest Show on Earth on their ballots back in 1952—but this time, the whole thing happened on national television, giving us the rare opportunity to watch the disaster unfold in real time. In the video above, we’ve reviewed and annotated every awkward face, awkward conversation, and awkward hug as the awkwardest moment of Hollywood’s Awkwardest Night unfolded the only way it could: awkwardly. Doing this allows us to better understand exactly how it all went wrong and pinpoint the precise moment each La La Land producer realizes they didn’t win an Oscar.


Not since the days of Snow White and Rob Lowe has there been such a vivid illustration of the unofficial slogan of the Academy Awards: In much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Feb. 27 2017 3:13 AM

The 2017 Oscars Transformed From a Tepid Rejoinder to Trump Into a Full-Fledged Liberal Fantasy

Before tonight’s Oscars had even begun, there was a sense that the show would be predictable: lots of fiery political speeches paired with a sweep by La La Land, the apolitical homage to Technicolor Hollywood musicals. Well, that’s why you actually have to watch the damn show.

The 89th Academy Awards did not play out as expected: instead of being an explicit rebuke of Donald Trump, full of Meryl Streep-style barn burners, the show was an implicit but relatively quiet rebuke of Donald Trump until the wacky, wild ending, in which La La Land appeared to have won Best Picture, only to have lost Best Picture to Moonlight. Sorry to all the tourists who rolled up to the Academy Awards in a tour bus: Your 15 minutes of fame lasted exactly until whatever happened with Warren Beatty and that envelope. Instead of being what, for nearly four hours, this broadcast seemed to be—a low-key celebration of Muslim, foreign and black talent capped by a predictable win for a sexual harasser and a message-free box office juggernaut—the Academy Awards suddenly became the fantasy metaphor so many liberals have been longing for. (Whether La La Land was unfairly cast in that fantasy metaphor is question for another, clearer-headed time.)

Feb. 27 2017 2:24 AM

Relive the Wildest Moment in Oscar History in Six Agonizing GIFs

After the triumphant La La Land team took the stage at the Oscars to accept the prize for Best Picture, it soon became clear that something was wrong. Something was very wrong. Moonlight actually won Best Picture. And that realization swept over the affected parties in agonizing real time.

You first see it on the La La Land producers’ faces, as they realize the statues they’re holding are not long for this world.

Producer reax

Emma Stone, left, is not sure this is really happening.


Alas, it is really happening. Warren Beatty knows he will not live this down.


Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight, realizes what's going on.


Meanwhile, Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land, reacts ... about as you'd expect.


For Moonlight fans, Janelle Monae sums it all up.


Congratulations to Moonlight! But speaking for everyone: eeeeeeeeeeesh.

Feb. 27 2017 1:29 AM

In a Shocking Twist, M. Night Shyamalan Takes Credit for the Oscars’ Shocking Twist

La La Land is your 2017 Best Picture winner—or is it? The 89th Academy Awards ended with La La Land producers being interrupted mid–victory speech to be told that there had been a mix-up and that Barry Jenkins' Moonlight was actually the winner. It was an upset so shocking, so unexpected, that audiences could only draw one conclusion: We’d all been Shyamalan-ed.

Even M. Night Shyamalan himself immediately made an M. Night Shyamalan joke. That's how shocking it was.


So move over, Sixth Sense. From now on, the 2017 Oscars will be remembered as the director’s greatest twist of all time.

Feb. 27 2017 12:47 AM

Watch the Incredible Twist Ending that Made the 2017 Oscars the Most Fun Ever

As La La Land producer Marc Platt thanked his fellow producers and his wife for the movie's Best Picture victory, the other producers of La La Land were engaged in hurried conversation. A stage manager ran onstage, headset on, to take the red envelope out of producer Jordan Horowitz's hand. Chaos reigned onstage as his fellow producer Fred Berger gave a short speech, which ended, confusingly, "We lost, by the way." Horowitz took the microphone back and announced, "There's a mistake." And immediately what had been a dispiriting, unsurprising Academy Awards telecast turned into the funniest, craziest, most memorable awards night in memory. Warren Beatty had apparently been given the wrong envelope! La La Land had not won Best Picture; Moonlight had.

There's long been a rumor that Marisa Tomei should not have won Best Supporting Actress at the 1993 Oscars—that presenter Jack Palance read the wrong name. The official explanation was that, should such a mistake occur, the PriceWaterhouseCoopers vote talliers would immediately remedy the error, even if it meant interrupting the show. And for those of us drama-hungry awards show nuts who've long wanted such a fiasco to happen—it finally did! And man, was it glorious.


Especially glorious because it was the most welcome twist possible: The best movie of the year came from behind, came from losing, to win Best Picture. La La Land was still richly rewarded, and its producers were remarkably gracious onstage when the error came to light. And we got to see a beautiful work of art get the prize it truly deserved—in the most dramatic way imaginable. Most years, we all forget who wins Best Picture six months later. But no one will ever forget Moonlight won the big prize. "Even in my dreams, this could not be true," Moonlight director Barry Jenkins said when he came onstage. Here's to the ones who dream, indeed.

Feb. 27 2017 12:39 AM

How Slate Responded to Moonlight’s Shocking Best Picture Win

At 12:10 a.m. Easterm Standard Time, the Slate culture team was engaged in a lukewarm Slack conversation about La La Land’s Best Picture victory. At 12:11 a.m., the tone of that conversation changed.

Willa Paskin [12:11 AM]: wait what


Jeffrey Bloomer [12:11 AM]: What

Marissa Martinelli [12:11 AM]: What is happening

David Canfield [12:11 AM]: what

Matthew Dessem [12:11 AM]: Are you kidding me?

Heather Schwedel [12:11 AM]: WHATTTTT

Dan Kois [12:11 AM]: uh whaaaaaat

Willa Paskin [12:11 AM]: holy shit

Dan Kois [12:11 AM]: what

Dan Kois [12:11 AM]: what

Jeffrey Bloomer [12:11 AM]: Holy shit

Dan Kois [12:11 AM]: what

Dan Kois [12:11 AM]: what

Matthew Dessem [12:11 AM]: Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jeffrey Bloomer [12:11 AM]: omg

Forrest Wickman [12:11 AM]: WHAT

Marissa Martinelli [12:11 AM]: Has this ever happened

Marissa Martinelli [12:11 AM]: Ever

Aisha Harris [12:11 AM]: WAIT

Aisha Harris [12:11 AM]: WTF

David Canfield [12:11 AM]: oh

Jacob Brogan [12:11 AM]: Wtf

David Canfield [12:11 AM]: my

David Canfield [12:11 AM]: god

Heather Schwedel [12:11 AM]: WTF

Jacob Brogan [12:11 AM]: Wtf

Willa Paskin [12:11 AM]: oh no

Forrest Wickman [12:11 AM]: HOLY SHIT

Jacob Brogan [12:11 AM]: What

Allison Benedikt [12:11 AM]: !!

Aisha Harris [12:11 AM]: HOLY FUCK

Feb. 27 2017 12:34 AM

Barry Jenkins’ Speech for Moonlight’s Best Screenplay Oscar: “For the Next Four Years, We Have Your Back”

The 2017 Oscars were lighter on politically charged speeches than almost anyone was expecting, but when Barry Jenkins and Tarrell Alvin McCraney won Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight, they both stepped up to the plate.

Wearing a blue ribbon in support of the American Civil Liberties Union, Jenkins began with the usual thanks to his agents and his publicists. But then he moved into shouting out the city of Miami and specifically referred to himself and McCraney as “two boys from Liberty City,” the housing projects where they both, then unknown to each other, grew up.


“I tell my students that I teach sometimes, ‘Be in the love with the process, not the result,’ ” Jenkins said. “But I really wanted this result, because a bajillion people are watching, and all you people out there who think there’s no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the academy has your back. The ACLU has your back. We have your back. And for the next four years, we will not leave you alone. We will not forget you.”

McCraney, who towered over Jenkins in a tuxedo with a red ribbon on his lapel, picked up the baton, dedicating their shared Oscar to “all those black and brown boys and girls and non–gender conforming who don’t see themselves.” With Jenkins and McCraney’s win, the Oscars became the first whose broadcast featured more than three black winners, but as Jenkins suggested in his speech, that fight for that kind of acknowledgement—not only in terms of which individuals are recognized, but whose stories are worthy of being told—is one that has to be fought every day. For the next four years, and beyond.