So, now you know why you have to watch the Oscars until the bitter end.
The evening's last-minute shocker wasn't just "Moonlight's" upset Best Picture Oscar win over "La La Land," but the way it went down, with presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announcing the wrong movie. Not their fault, apparently, but still ... Steve Harvey must be feeling pretty smug right now. (Actually, he's not.)
It was really a shame, since the 89th Academy Awards show was otherwise pretty hard to find fault with. Jimmy Kimmel was a funny host, the speeches were mostly free of shrill political rhetoric, the "In Memoriam" montage snubbed only one major figure (sorry, Garry Shandling), and even the Art Deco stage set was gorgeous. And yet, the final gaffe is going to be all that anyone can talk about for a while. Which is unfortunate, since there were a lot of moments from Sunday's Oscars, good or bad, that were memorable.
Best Musical NumberThe song-and-dance moments are usually the draggiest part of the Oscars, but this year's numbers were actually pretty lively, from the poised 16-year-old Auli'i Cravalho proving that "Moana" should have been a live-action musical with her stirring "How Far I'll Go," to John Legend proving that he should have had Ryan Gosling's part in "La La Land" with his medley of "City of Stars" and "Audition." But we'll give the performance trophy to Justin Timberlake, who opened the show with a rendition of his "Trolls" tune "Can't Stop the Feeling" that was energetically staged and brought the Dolby Theatre crowd instantly to its feet. Really, the whole show could have used more of JT's seemingly boundless energy and charm; could he please host next year?
Best Kimmel JokeKimmel's monologue nicely walked the line of deflating stars' egos without being overly mean-spirited -- except toward Donald Trump (whom he thanked for making us forget that last year, it was the Oscars that seemed racist) and faux Kimmel nemesis Matt Damon (too many barbs to mention). More generally, he mocked Hollywood for not discriminating by national origin, just by age and weight. But his best joke was his most economical one-liner. Neatly summarizing the racial politics of "Hidden Figures" and "La La Land," Kimmel observed that 2016 was the year "that black people saved NASA and white people saved jazz."
Worst Kimmel JokeIn a year when so many awards were handed out to the FX mini-series "The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," it was nice to finally hear someone accept an O.J.-related trophy (in this case, Best Documentary honoree O.J.: Made in America") and remember to pay homage to murder victims Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. So it was pretty crass that Kimmel followed that moment by quipping that the incarcerated football legend would also get a prize tonight, an extra slice of bologna on his sandwich. The Dolby Theatre crowd booed that one pretty loudly, though Kimmel recovered by acknowledging that he'd just squandered all his good will.
Best Surprise GuestNo, not Michael J. Fox and his "Back to the Future" DeLorean, though both are welcome visitors to any movie-fan event. Rather, it was Katherine Johnson, the real-life heroine played by Taraji P. Henson in "Hidden Figures." The former NASA mathematician briefly joined Henson and co-stars Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae on stage, earning a standing ovation just for showing up. The wheelchair-bound 98-year-old appeared frail and didn't say much (just "Thank you very much"), but her presence alone was enough to underscore the theme of this year's ceremony, which was inspiration.
Worst Viral StuntIt's an awards-show requirement these days for the host to go out into the audience and do something seemingly spontaneous that forces the gathered dignitaries to sacrifice their dignity for a few moments that will end up immortalized as GIFs. Usually, that involves sitting on laps or photobombing selfies, but this time, it involved Kimmel bringing in a busload of Hollywood tourists who had no idea that the collection of Oscar gowns they'd been told they were going to see was being worn by real, live celebrities at the real, live Oscars, and that their own astonishment would be broadcast to the world on live TV.
Fittingly, the tourists seemed not at all star-struck or even all that impressed, though there was a nice moment when engaged Chicago couple Gary and Vicki got Vicki's favorite actor, Denzel Washington, to pretend to officiate over their wedding. Despite being made Kimmel's unwilling victims in front of an audience of hundreds of millions, the tourists came through with aplomb. Rather, it was the celebrities who appeared embarrassed -- at being treated like commodities or zoo animals and, in Jennifer Aniston's case, being cajoled by Kimmel to fork over a pair of sunglasses from her pocketbook as a wedding gift.
Best SpeechDo you suppose that organizations keep giving awards to Viola Davis just to hear her speeches? Not that she didn't deserve an Oscar, her first, for her supporting role in "Fences," but not even the bravest orchestra conductor would have dared ruin her moment by trying to play her off the stage while she was at hear tearful, dramatic, impassioned best. "You know, there is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered," she began, "and that's the graveyard." Then she went on to thank her fellow artists, particularly her "Fences" colleagues, for telling "the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost." She added, "I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life." If you needed a justification for why anyone should watch an evening's worth of Hollywood self-congratulation, this was it.
Second Best Speech"Hacksaw Ridge" sound mixer Kevin O'Connell finally won his first Oscar on his 21st nomination, thus ending the longest losing streak in Oscar history. He recalled that his mom, Skippy O'Connell, got him his first industry job (she was a secretary in the sound department at 20th Century Fox) and told him how he could express his gratitude: "You can work really hard, and someday you can win yourself an Oscar, and you can stand on the stage, and you can think me in front of the whole world." Alas, she didn't live long enough to see him fulfill that pledge, but he said he was sure she was looking down proudly from beyond.
Worst Running GagKimmel's candy drop was actually pretty cool the first time, with those gossamer parachute payloads of Red Vines and Junior Mints wafting down upon hungry celebrities like those lovely airborne jellyfish creatures from "Avatar." The second time, with Lemonheads and Mike & Ikes, seemed redundant, but at least it involved the adorable "Lion" star Sunny Pawar. By the third time, when Kimmel dropped cookies and donuts and threatened to drop coffee as well, it became clear why the show is nearly four hours long.
Best MontageGive credit to the compilers of all the clips. The four montages of acting winners from throughout Oscar history were stirring and inspirational. So were the tributes to Shirley MacLaine (who inspired Charlize Theron with her performance in "The Apartment") and Meryl Streep (who inspired Javier Bardem with her work in "The Bridges of Madison County"). And even the spoof of those same montages late in the show, with Kimmel mocking Damon's performance in "We Bought a Zoo," was funny. But the best montage was the one of filmgoers from around the world talking about how much movies mean to them, how they make viewers feel empathy for others, and how they make people from different countries feel closer to one another. There were a number of speeches throughout the evening, most of them implied reactions to President Trump's policies, that called for tolerance and cross-cultural understanding, but this montage made the best case for movies as a means of transcending our differences -- and for the Oscars as a fitting tribute to that mission, and not just as a night of the privileged honoring the pampered.
Worst BlooperSo, apparently, all that hemming and hawing that Beatty and Dunaway did while opening the envelope to read the Best Picture winner's title wasn't just the seventysomething stars having a senior moment or vamping to generate suspense. As Beatty explained later, he'd been handed a duplicate Best Actress envelope, whose card read, "Emma Stone -- 'La La Land.'" The "Bonnie and Clyde" actors were understandably perplexed, but eventually, Dunaway read the "La La Land" part of the card to the world. Two of the musical's three producers gave acceptance speeches before the mistake was discovered and the correct envelope containing "Moonlight"'s title opened and showed to the cameras. The "Moonlight" crew were gracious about the error, but still ... someone at PricewaterhouseCoopers is sooooo fired.