And the winner is… Thoughts on the 2017 Academy Awards

While there were a number of notable moments from the 2017 Academy Awards, unfortunately the ceremony is probably doomed to be forever remembered for its major “Oscar oops” — announcing the wrong best picture. Awards shows are always hoping for a viral moment to generate buzz, but this is NOT the type of moment you want people remembering.

Although “Moonlight” ended up taking home the evening’s most coveted statuette, best picture, a card mix-up resulted in the initial announcement of “La La Land” as the winner, made even more awkward by the fact “La La Land” was seen as the front-runner for the prize. “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle still took home the prize for best director, but I can only image what it must have felt like to experience that rush of adrenaline when they name your film and then…whoops, never mind. You didn’t actually win. But as they say in the performing industry, the show must go on. Although I have not yet seen “Moonlight,” I heard that it too was very deserving of the award.

There weren’t as many surprises in the best actor/actress and best supporting actor/actress categories. Casey Affleck and Emma Stone were expected to win best actor and best actress for their roles in “Manchester by the Sea” and “La La Land,” respectively, and they did. Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor for his role in “Moonlight,” and Viola Davis won best supporting actress for her role in “Fences.”

It also wasn’t a surprise to see “La La Land” take home the award for best original score. It’s been a couple months now since I saw the film but I’m still humming the songs. It’s a beautiful score with both exhilarating and heartbreaking moments. Other prizes the film took home included best production design and best cinematography. It’s possible the reason “La La Land” didn’t ultimately win best picture is because the Academy chose to honor it in all these other categories instead.

“Zootopia” ended up taking home the prize for best animated feature, although I was really hoping for “Kubo and the Two Strings.” “Kubo” had such beautiful animation and a poignant story, and I was really hoping the Academy would show it some love. Still, it’s always an honor to simply be nominated, and I hope people will check out this sometimes-overlooked film.

I was also hoping “Star Trek: Beyond” would win for best makeup and hair-styling, but that wasn’t meant to be, either. I guess now we can say “Suicide Squad” is an Oscar-winning film, since it took home that prize (and that’s the last I’ll say about that). While I was rooting for “Doctor Strange” to win best visual effects, especially since I thought it really pushed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a new direction, it’s hard to deny the achievements of “The Jungle Book.”

Although the best picture mix-up certainly had people talking about the Academy Awards the next day, unfortunately, viewership for the ceremony was down overall, with the lowest U.S. viewership since 2008. The Oscars may still be Hollywood’s most prestigious awards ceremony, but it tends to run long and audiences can now quickly get the results through social media without having to actually watch the show. It’s also tough to produce a show that keeps the prestige of the awards but also produces those trendy, viral moments that dominate social media. There’s also the continuing argument over whether the Oscars should find a way to honor more of the crowd-pleasing blockbusters, and maybe more people would want to tune in. These are all issues the Academy will have to address in coming years.

Still, a definite positive is an increase this year in the diversity of the nominees — and winners. The Academy received quite a bit of criticism last year for the lack of diversity, and they appear to have taken that criticism to heart. There’s still work to be done, of course, especially in the industry as a whole, but it’s still encouraging to see a diverse group of talent honored.

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