Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

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 screwup 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.

Feb. 27 2017 12:25 AM

“Who’s Really In the Zoo?” Asks Jimmy Kimmel in This Existentially Horrifying Oscars Bit

Starline Tours, the company behind those roofless vans and busses that clog the roads in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, promises patrons the chance to get closer to their favorite celebrities, safely viewing them in their natural habitats while remaining ready to make a quick escape should the encounter turn violent. But at the Oscars on Sunday night, Jimmy Kimmel asked the crowd—and the world—who the real zoo animals were. Much as past hosts have ordered pizza, Kimmel ordered some hapless tourists for celebrities to poke and prod, raising questions about spectatorship, the surveillance state, and, indeed, the very nature of reality itself.

Kimmel ably served as the mad puppet master behind this Twilight Zone switcheroo, gleefully ushering the tourists to the very front of the Oscar stage and introducing them to stars like Denzel Washington and Nicole Kidman. But while the tourists gaped at faces they knew from the silver screen, the celebs gaped back. It was a chilling reminder that, as Nietzsche wrote, “wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein,” (“While you stare like a fool at Ryan Gosling, the entire world is judging you on the Oscar telecast.”) What’s more, it gave some of the greatest creative talents in the world a rare opportunity to meet the audience they serve: people who love movies so much they buy tickets to ride busses past celebrities’ homes but don’t love them quite enough to watch the Academy Awards. It really made us all think.


Feb. 27 2017 12:02 AM

The Oscars Did a Special Edition of Mean Tweets, and the Miles Teller Burn Was Perfect

Jimmy Kimmel wasn’t about to host the Oscars without including a special awards-themed edition of his famed Mean Tweets, with A-listers bemusedly reading insults targeted squarely at them, before an audience of millions. Below, a sampling:

“Oh, look at me … I’m Ryan Gosling. I have perfect bone structure and fine eyes. Go **** yourself Ryan Gosling.”


“Are we all just ignoring the fact that Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne have the same face?”

“Lin-Manuel Miranda looks like he’s getting a 1996 NBC sitcom with his haircut.” (Miranda, good sport that he is, did not appear to disagree with this.)

“Emma Stone looks like she plays a crack whore in every role she plays.”

“Miles Teller has the face of a guy who would request Gangnam Style at a wedding where he doesn’t know either the bride or groom.”

Kudos to @Josh for really nailing Miles Teller.