If it were in the screenplay of a Hollywood drama — or maybe farce — directors would surely reject it. But let’s set the scene anyway for the Academy Awards drama over what film did, and didn’t, win the Oscar for best picture on Sunday night.
We pan in on the stage of the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are about to announce best picture, the culmination of entertainment’s biggest awards show. Beatty opens a red envelope and looks at the card inside, giving a double-take. He looks inside the envelope to see if there’s anything else there.
Beatty: “The Academy Award…”
He pauses, looks at the envelope again.
Beatty: “For best picture…”
He pauses again and looks offstage, then hands the envelope to Dunaway, who gives it a quick glance.
Dunaway: “La La Land.”
The audience applauds, as the cast, crew and producers of “La La Land” take the stage to accept what many had anticipated, the coveted honor of best picture. Producers Jason Horowitz and Marc Platt give speeches, but something seems amiss as Platt speaks. There’s commotion among the people standing behind him as a man wearing headphones appears and checks red envelopes being held by producers.
Platt: “Keep dreaming, because the dreams we dream today will provide the love, compassion and the humanity that will narrate the story of our lives tomorrow.”
The third producer, Fred Berger, takes his turn at the microphone and speaks briefly before looking at a confused scene behind him.
Berger: “We lost, by the way.”
Horowitz: “There’s a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.”
Platt: “This is not a joke. I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.”
Horowitz: “This is not a joke. ‘Moonlight’ has won best picture.”
Horowitz takes a card from Beatty and holds it up. The camera pans in so the words are visible: “Moonlight” has indeed won best picture. Host Jimmy Kimmel approaches the microphone and alludes to Steve Harvey, whose 2015 reading of the wrong Miss Universe winner instantly becomes the second most-embarrassing awards show flub.
Kimmel: “Guys. This is very unfortunate what happened. Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this.”
Kimmel looks at Horowitz.
Kimmel: “I would like to see you get an Oscar anyway. Why can’t we just give out a whole bunch of them?”
Horowitz: “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends at ‘Moonlight.’”
Kimmel: “That’s nice of you.”
Beatty approaches the microphone.
Beatty: “Hello? Hello?”
Kimmel: “Warren, what did you do?”
Beatty: “I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
By now, the cast and crew of “Moonlight” is taking the stage, supplanting the folks from “La La Land,” who were slipping away. The camera switches to people in the audience who look dumbfounded. Matt Damon whistles. Barry Jenkins, creator of “Moonlight,” approaches the microphone.
Jenkins: “Very clearly in my dreams, this could not be true. But to hell with dreams, I’m done with it, because this is true. Oh, my goodness.”
Jenkins finishes his speech. Then Kimmel takes the microphone again.
Kimmel: “Well, I don’t know what happened. I blame myself. … It’s just an awards show … I knew I would screw this show up. I really did … I promise I’ll never come back.”