In what must have been one of the most humiliating moments of his life, "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz had to tell the world on Sunday night that his movie did not, in fact, win Best Picture at the Oscars, after it was initially mistakenly announced as the victor instead of actual Best Picture honoree "Moonlight." But Horowitz and "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins have proven that even such a surreal, embarrassing moment can have a positive outcome, especially when both winner and loser are so gracious toward one another.
The filmmakers were the picture of poise and mutual respect Sunday night (and early Monday morning, as the show stretched into the wee hours) as the surreal event played out on the telecast. No fewer than three producers from "La La Land" had already given acceptance speeches, thinking they were Best Picture winners, when presenter Warren Beatty, host Jimmy Kimmel, and show producers stormed the stage with the correct envelope (no, not the one declaring "Lemonade" the winner) to try to explain what happened.
Horowitz could have slunk away to stew about the embarrassing turn of events, but instead, he snatched the envelope declaring "Moonlight"'s victory and took it upon himself to reveal the true winner. As a clearly uncomfortable Kimmel joked that he wished everyone from both "La La Land" and "Moonlight" could get a statuette, Horowitz insisted on presenting Jenkins and the other "Moonlight" producers with their rightful prizes, telling the host, "I'm going to be really thrilled to hand this to my friends from 'Moonlight.'"
While some internet commentators have noted that Horowitz didn't exactly do anything revolutionary -- after all, he didn't win that Oscar, and should have just handed it over anyway without any special recognition for doing do -- Jenkins counted himself among those impressed by the producer's poise during such an awkward (and surely pretty painful) moment. In a backstage interview after the broadcast, Jenkins told reporters, "the folks from 'La La Land' were so gracious. I can't imagine being in their position and having to do that. ... I wasn't speechless because we won. I was speechless because I — it was so gracious of them to do that."
In a tweet sent out later that night, the director reflected on what the event must have felt like for Horowitz, writing that he had "much respect" for the producer. As Horowitz tweeted in reply, that feeling went both ways.
Jordan Horowitz. Wow. I'm slipping slowly into reflection, perspective. Much respect to that dude— Barry Jenkins (@BandryBarry) February 27, 2017
Thank you, Barry. Congratulations and much love. ❤ https://t.co/BSwk9T6Si4— Jordan Horowitz (@jehorowitz) February 27, 2017
Humbled. And once again: congrats to Moonlight. A truly beautiful picture made by some even more beautiful people. https://t.co/sOP1K0EiwW— Jordan Horowitz (@jehorowitz) February 27, 2017
In an interview with The Washington Post, Horowitz further elaborated on what was going through his mind as the mistake unfolded, insisting that he didn't think he did anything extraordinary.
"That moment on stage was not about anything but moving the spotlight to where it should have rightfully been. ... [S]etting it right was in my mind the only option," he told the Post. " ... All I know is there was a moment when I knew and it needed to be corrected. There was just so much confusion. I think people needed to see that piece of paper. There needed to be some real definitive clarity and truth in that moment."
No one will ever forget the awkwardness that went down during the 2017 Oscars, but we're glad that Horowitz and Jenkins's heartwarming mutual respect and friendship will also be a part of that story.