LA LA LAND and MOONLIGHT Directors Share Variety Cover – For A Very Cool Reason


The grace that the filmmakers of La La Land showed to those of Moonlight – in the midst of the biggest gut-punching “psyche” job to ever play out on a global stage – didn’t end on Oscar night.

Every year post-Oscars, Variety (the legendary Hollywood trade publication) puts the Academy Award winner for Best Director on its cover. This year, that honor goes to Damien Chazelle, who won for helming La La Land. And yet when the edition debuted, director Barry Jenkins – whose Moonlight had just beat La La Land for Best Picture in an historic upset – was sharing the cover with Chazelle.

The reason: because Chazelle had asked Variety – and not the other way around – if Jenkins could join him, for the cover and the interview.

As Variety put it:

  • The high stakes and cutthroat tactics enlisted during Hollywood’s annual award season have long rivaled those of hard-fought political campaigns. But this year’s race showed the entertainment community at its absolute best. This was not a case of winner-take-all, but rather — as our cover story hopefully and joyfully exemplifies — proof that contenders share similar dreams, struggles, and frailties, and in fact can show respect and a generosity of spirit toward one another, whether they win or lose.

To read the entire joint interview conducted by Kristopher Tapley, Variety’s Oscar guru and host of their Oscar podcast Playbackclick here. The feature includes a pictorial essay of these two filmmakers, who were at the top of the 2016 Academy Award winning class. That photo essay is teased here in this behind-the-scenes video:


Exclusive VARIETY Photos Show Envelope Mix-Up Play-By-Play At The Oscars



In an exclusive pictorial essay, with timecodes, Variety shows the backstage photos that captured the subtle mistakes which led to the biggest Oscar blunder in the nearly 90-year history of the Academy Awards.

To literally see the sequence of events, click here.

PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan were the only two people at the event in charge of envelopes and protocol (as is per usual), with one on each side of the stage. More importantly, they were the only two people on the planet who knew the contents (i.e. winners) of each envelope. As the photos reveal, Cullinan is the culprit here; it happened on his side, and he was distracted when texting images of Best Actress winner Emma Stone. Like an idiot.

Nevertheless, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced today that both Cullinan and Ruiz will never be allowed to work the Oscar ceremonies again. Probably understandable, but one can’t help but feel bad for Ruiz who’s having to bear the consequences of her colleague’s malfeasance, simply by association.

It’s also being reported that the Academy may have two accountants on each side of the stage (making four total) at future Oscar ceremonies, in light of the single-person oversight disaster. In other words, the plan is to hold accountants accountable.

MOONLIGHT’s Barry Jenkins Reveals Planned Best Picture Speech (AWARDS 2016)


Barry Jenkins wasn’t able to say what he’d hoped to, but who can blame him?

The producer/writer/director of surprise Best Picture winner Moonlight was understandably flummoxed in the whirlwind of the biggest Oscars gaff ever. Everyone was in a state of shock following the envelope mishap that led to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway erroneously naming La La Land as Best Picture, so we can only imagine how that shock was exponentially compounded in the hearts and minds of the actual winners, Jenkins among them.

Although Jenkins did acquit himself with grace (as did La La Land‘s blindsided producers led by Jordan Horowitz), he wasn’t able to compose his thoughts in the midst of the chaos. Jenkins tells Entertainment Weekly that had things gone according to protocol, here’s what he would’ve said (referring to him and co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney):

  • “Tarell and I are Chiron. We are that boy. And when you watch Moonlight, you don’t assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award. I’ve said that a lot, and what I’ve had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. Not you, not anyone else — me. And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and, somehow through the Academy’s grace, realizing dreams you never allowed yourself to have. Much love.”

To read more of Jenkins’ thoughts on the night’s dramatic conclusion, including how Horowitz handled it, click here.

(EW’s exclusive morning-after photo also looks good in B&W, too.)


Vanity Fair Oscar Portraits (PICTURE GALLERY)


Glamour and class. That marks the style of the Vanity Fair portraits for the 2016 Academy Award Winners.

Below is a gallery of those from the top categories. To see portraits of all who won, click here.

Click on any portrait for a larger image gallery

Oscar Ballot Error Memes Hit Twittersphere (TWEETS)


It was bound to happen. Here are a few of the memes that are riffing off of – or responding to – the real ballot image (above) of Moonlight‘s Best Picture Oscar win.

And my favorite:

THE 89TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS: Analysis & Full List of Winners (AWARDS 2016)


La La Landslide turned into a Moonlight blindside.

In what was the most bizarre ending in Oscar history (or possibly the most bizarre Oscar moment, period), and right up there with any live event ever, Moonlight was named Best Picture of 2016 at the 89th Annual Academy Awards after La La Land had already been announced as the winner.

Compounding the shock was that, with a record-tying 14 nominations and a recipient of every necessary industry precursor (look at the opening line to my Golden Globes reaction), La La Land was supposed to be the winner, especially as it had already hauled in 6 Oscars throughout the night. This was a sure thing. A 100% lock. Easy. Look, Moonlight‘s victory would’ve been a shock regardless, even if the announcement had been done right, but this epic flub took it into a whole other realm of the surreal.

I still can’t believe that this happened.

But are presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to blame? No. Or, at worst, only for not having the wherewithal of how to deal with an entirely unexpected and confusing situation not of their making.

When you look at a replay of the moment, Beatty’s reaction supports his story that he was given an envelope with Emma Stone‘s Best Actress victory card on the inside. He pulls out the card, gives it a look, then looks back in the envelope to see if there’s another card. There isn’t. He looks confused, he stutters. Then he looks offstage, seeking help. Nothing. He hands Dunaway the card and she, not realizing anything’s amiss, immediately reads the name of the movie she sees on the card, not processing that it’s not the Best Picture card.

A few hours after the telecast, the accountants of PricewaterhouseCoopers (Pwc) officially took the bullet, absolving Beatty and Dunaway of any culpability. Here’s what happened, according to The Hollywood Reporter:

Despite the fact that Emma Stone was still holding on to her Best Actress envelope and card at the time of the globalized snafu, Pwc awards show protocol requires duplicates of all envelopes in two separate briefcases, one on each side of the stage. Somehow, the duplicate Best Actress envelope on the other side of the stage was given to Beatty. The Pwc firm has committed to getting to the bottom of how this could’ve happened.

At the very least, even with the cruel mix-up, the Oscar showrunners made it right before the show actually wrapped, allowing filmmaker Barry Jenkins and his producers to have their moment, tarnished as it was (especially given how it came right after the La La Land producers had their moment only to then have it – and their Best Picture Oscars – yanked away from them in what had to be an absolute gut punch, one they still managed to handle with style and class).

Adding to the whole unprecedented moment, which completed the biggest upset in Oscar history, it marked the first Best Picture win for indie distributor A24, a small art house shingle that successfully steered an ultra-low budget movie of $1.5 million dollars with no-name stars to the industry’s most coveted prize. Not even Harvey Weinstein has done that.

So, controversial moment aside, how does this Moonlight win even happen? How does it beat the movie with 14 nominations, a record 7 Golden Globes, numerous Critics Group citations, and wins at the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and the BAFTAs (Britain’s Oscar equivalent)? No film before La La Land has won so much only to lose Best Picture, until now.

It likely came down to two things:

1. The most obvious: enough Academy voters wanted to make a social / cultural / political statement, particularly in the Trump era, and they felt that Moonlight – about a gay African-American boy from the Miami slums who, as he grows to manhood, struggles to reconcile his identity and place in the world – was the perfect movie to make a statement with. (It also had the virtue of impeccable cinematic merits, something Hidden Figures and Fences did not.) Significantly, after two years of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Moonlight became the first all-black-cast film to ever win Best Picture.

2. In hindsight: La La Land‘s record-tying 14 nominations probably ended up hurting it more than helping it. Enough voters likely looked at that record haul – equal to Titanic and All About Eve – and thought, “Well, it’s not that good.” They clearly loved and admired the film, giving it 6 awards including Best Actress and Director, but didn’t feel its place in history should be set as equal to those two others. Ironically, La La Land may have actually completed its run if it had 13 nominations or less.

The La La backlash that had become a part of the awards season conversation certainly hinted at this brewing sentiment, but the negativity wasn’t taken that seriously since backlashes seem built into the arc of these races. But this time, it really did have an impact.

Nevertheless, La La Land took home the most Oscars of the night, winning in the major categories it was expected to except for one (the biggest one) and took 6 total. Moonlight was second with 3, adding Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali and Best Adapted Screenplay to its Best Picture shocker. Manchester by the Sea, the other big contender of the 2016 Awards Season, ended up with 2: Best Original Screenplay for writer/director Kenneth Lonergan and Best Actor Casey Affleck, who overcame a late-season threat from SAG Best Actor winner Denzel Washington.

Best Picture nominee Hacksaw Ridge also took 2 awards for Best Editing and Sound Mixing, while fellow Best Pic noms Arrival and Fences took 1 a piece, the former for Best Sound Editing and the latter for Viola Davis as Best Supporting Actress in what was her first (but likely not last) Academy Award victory.

In total, 6 of the 9 Best Picture nominees went home with at least 1 Academy Award. The three that were completely shut out were Hell or High WaterHidden Figures, and Lion.

While La La Land becomes the most nominated film ever to not win Best Picture, it’s not the biggest winner to fall short. Cabaret won 8 Oscars (including Best Director and Best Actress, like La La Land) in 1972 but lost Best Picture to The Godfather which only won 3 (like Moonlight). And in 1977, Star Wars won 7 Academy Awards but lost Best Picture to Annie Hall, which won 4. La La Land‘s 6 Academy Awards ties Best Picture loser Mad Max: Fury Road which also won six just last year but lost the top prize to Spotlight, which only took home a total of 2.

As for the show itself, producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd put on a classy show in every regard (I particularly liked the historical clip reels of past Acting winners prior to those four categories) with a variety of silver and blue Art Deco sets that always looked stunning and glamorous. The show’s only anomaly was a weird (and sometimes clunky) use of orchestrated muzak covers of 80s pop hits for segues, and an elaborate “surprise” tour group gag that had its moments but wasted too much time.

For host Jimmy Kimmel, a personality I’ve largely found to be rather bland, he actually acquitted himself rather well. His material had some good clever quips, even as he dipped into the “nobody’s seen your movie” well too many times (and can we also stop with the “food at awards shows” bits already?). He also continued his ongoing public “feud” with Matt Damon to provide some of the night’s best laughs, but perhaps his greatest strength was how absolutely casual he was, even more so than Ellen. It was so refreshing compared to many hosts who often seem desperate to “kill”, even when playing it dry or winking. Kimmel did not feel or carry the weight, burden, and responsibility of his role as Oscar host at all, and that chill temperament is exactly what the job needs.

Finally, as far as my predictions were concerned, it wasn’t a banner year. I’ll take the mulligan on Best Picture, along with everyone else, and I did very well in the rest of the major awards except for Best Actor (which was a tight race anyway), but overall? I got 14 out of 24 right. Not bad (and I’ve done worse) but, as is so often the case, the short films jacked me up (went 0-for-3 there) as did the two sound categories.

Below is a complete list of the winners. To see all the nominees, click here.


 – Moonlight

 –Damien Chazelle – La La Land

BEST ACTOR – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

 – Emma Stone, La La Land

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Mahershala Ali, Moonlight


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Manchester by the Sea, by Kenneth Lonergan

 – Moonlight, by Barry Jenkins


 – The Salesman (Iran)

 O.J.: Made in America

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE –  La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)

 – “City of Stars” – Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)

 Hacksaw Ridge

 – La La Land


BEST COSTUME DESIGN Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


 – Sing


 – The White Helmets




“Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots” Unleash Hot Takes From Anonymous Voters (AWARDS 2016)


So, tell us what you really think.

Six anonymous Academy voters do just that, thanks to The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Awards Season tradition “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots”.

This year’s crop of mystery Academy members includes an unnamed Actress, Producer, Publicist, Executive, Actor, and Director, all who’ve either been nominated before or have been a part of nominated movies (but aren’t involved with any nominees this year).

And they don’t mince words.

These are fun reads and intriguing looks into how members often think and rationalize, but if you’re looking for help with your Oscar ballot you’d best look elsewhere. The opinions here are all over the map, and contradict each other. That makes them great reads but poor tea leaves.

To read each of the ballot commentaries, click on the links below.

Brutally Honest Ballot #1
– Meryl Streep “Like a Clown,” ‘La La Land’ “Not Memorable,” ‘Arrival’ “Just Sucked”

Brutally Honest Ballot #2
– ‘La La Land’ “Felt a Little Light,” Barry Jenkins “Is Really a Poet”

Brutally Honest Ballot #3
– Denzel Washington “Talks Too Much,” ‘La La Land’ “Transported Me”

Brutally Honest Ballot #4
– ‘Moonlight’ “Everything I Think An Oscar Picture Should Be,” ‘La La Land’ “A Piece of Sh–”

Brutally Honest Ballot #5
– “Loved Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling Together,” “Gimme a Break” About ‘Arrival’ (this voter abstained in 6 of the 24 categories, or 1/4 of them, and spoils the ending to Lion in the Best Picture comments)

Brutally Honest Ballot #6
– “Fell In Love With” Taraji P. Henson, “Turned Off” ’20th Century Women’ (this voter abstained in 8 of the 24 categories, or a full 1/3 of the ballot)