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Oscars 2017: seven talking points

From Mahershala Ali to Janet Patterson - Screen runs through some of the buzz topics from last night’s Academy Awards.

Best Picture

The presentation of best picture at the Academy Awards is arguably the biggest single moment in Hollywood’s calendar, making it all the more remarkable that through a clumsy series of envelope errors, the ceremony managed to temporarily crown La La Land before that film’s producer Jordan Horowitz announced that Moonlight was in fact the winner. Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has since taken the blame.

Echoing the notorious blunder at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant – when presenter Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner (which Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel alluded to by joking “personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this”) – the magnitude of the blunder is unparralleled in Oscar terms but not entirely without precedent.

At the 1934 Oscars Frank Capra took to stage thinking he had won best director for Lady For A Day when he heard the name Frank called out by the anouncer. Unfortunately, the real winner was in fact a different Frank: Frank Lloyd for Cavalcade.

At the 1964 Oscars, Sammy Davis Jr, presenting the award for musical score (adaptation or treatment), was handed the incorrect envelope which led to him announcing the winner of the next category instead (watch the video below or on mobile here).

In memoriam

If the best picture gaffe wasn’t enough, the event’s in memoriam segment paired its tribute to multi-Oscar nominated costume designer Janet Patterson with an image of producer Jan Chapman.

The blunder was widely noted on social media:

Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali

Early in the night, Mahershala Ali was crowned best supporting actor for his role in Barry Jenkins’ eventual winner-on-the-night Moonlight. In doing so, he became the first known Muslim actor to win an Oscar.

In a ceremony dominated by talk about president Donald Trump’s controversial actions, including his recent travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, Ali’s win was one of the night’s more poignant moments.

Trump talk

As expected, there were numerous references to president Donald Trump throughout the ceremony. In his opening monologue, host Jimmy Kimmel went straight for the jugular, thanking the president for making the ceremony seem less racist this year, and then encouraging the night’s winners to make acceptance speeches that Trump “will tweet about in all caps during his 5am bowel movement tomorrow.”

“The country is divided right now. People have been telling me I need to say something to unite us. I’m not the man to unite this country,” Kimmel said, “There are millions and millions of people watching right now, and if every one of you took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with and have a positive, considerate conversation – not as liberals or conservatives but as Americans – if we all did that it would make America great again. It starts with us.”

Donald Trump

Speeches throughout the night were peppered with references to Trump and his policies, including host Gael Garcia Bernal who said: “As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I am against any form of wall that wants to separate us”, and makeup and hairstyle Oscar winner Alessandro Bertolazzi, who said “I’m an immigrant – I come from Italy – and I work around the world. And this is for all the immigrants.” 

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted this year’s ceremony in protest against the president’s travel ban, sent Iranian astronaut Anousheh Ansari in his place. On stage, she read a statement from Farhadi which read: “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and the other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.”

O’Connell breaks losing run

Sound mixer Kevin O’Connell may have been the most relieved man in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre last night. After racking up a remarkable 20 Oscar nominations without victory since his first nod in 1984 (Terms Of Endearment), the sound artist finally broke his streak by picking up the sound mixing Oscar for Hacksaw Ridge.

#Oscarsnotsowhite

After last year’s Oscars were dominated by the #Oscarssowhite controversy, this year’s ceremony appears to have made some progress in fixing the problem. Half of the acting categories this year went to black talent (Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis), Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney shared the adapted screenplay award for Moonlight, and Ezra Edelman won best documentary for OJ: Made In America.

UK winners on the night

The White Helmets

The White Helmets

This year’s Oscars were a largely barren field for UK film talent. Brit Orlando von Einsiedel’s documentary short The White Helmets won for him and his UK producer Joanna Natasegara, while the previously mentioned hair and makeup winner Alessandro Bertolazzi is Italian-born English. Other films with British involvement that won on the night included The Jungle Book and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

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