Warren Beatty and the Oscars
At one point I may have been the only person in the world defending Warren Beatty in the Oscar fiasco.
Yesterday (Monday) I was on Al Bernstein's debut show - Bernstein by the Book - on VSiN and SiriusXM. It's a brand new show with analysis about gambling and its various vicissitudes.
Al is a boxing guru, Renaissance man, and all-around bon vivant.
I made my case in defense of Warren. Here it is:
Yesterday all the Monday Morning Quarterbacks were mocking Warren Beatty. Beatty was in their hostile sights, because he allowed the wrong film to be named as Best Picture at the Academy Awards ceremony. Beatty hesitated awkwardly before showing the card with the name of a winner to Faye Dunaway, who announced that La La Land had won Best Picture.
We soon were informed that a mistake had been made. By whom? The envelope given to Beatty actually had Emma Stone's name along with the title of the movie she had been in. But she had already won.
The actual winner - in another envelope somewhere - was Moonlight.
When Beatty was hemming and hawing, before the announcement of the winner of the Best Picture, I was annoyed. Tell us the winner. Warren, don't do your impression of Casey Affleck.
Two days later, we now know that Brian Cullinan, of PricewaterhouseCoopers - or is it Watersouse? - gave the wrong envelope to Beatty.
Was Beatty wrong to accept it? Of course not. He's merely a messenger. Was he wrong, in his uncertainty, to show it to Faye?
Let's go back to the decisive moments. And the original context. Monday Morning QBs never consider original context. After the fact is obvious.
When Beatty saw that the name Emma Stone was on the page should he have stepped back and said, "I think this is the wrong envelope"?
If he had done so and La La Land had won, Beatty would be vilified for upstaging the major award. Remember the furor of John Travolta's mispronunciation of Idina Menzel?
What were the chances La La Land hadn't won? Someone in authority certainly would have known and stopped him and Faye.
How many of you at the time thought that La La Land wouldn't be awarded Best Picture?
At this point La La Land had won 6 of its 13 nominations, with one to go.
Readers who are familiar with my work know that I think La La Land is overrated, so I was rooting against it. But as the final award approached it seemed a foregone conclusion that La La Land was going to win Best Picture.
During the first two hours of the television show, La La Land had won only two Oscars, one just before the 2-hour mark. It had lost 3 editing awards - two to Hacksaw Ridge, one to Arrival. And it got upset in Costume Design by Colleen Atwood for Fantastic Beasts. Colleen was delightfully surprised. So was I.
The expected La La deluge hadn't been evident so far.
But as the 6 major awards came, La La Land seemed to be cruising to its 7th and biggest Oscar. Emma Stone had won Best Actress. And Damien Chazelle won the Oscar for directing La La Land.
If Moonlight had any chance wouldn't director Barry Jenkins have won for Moonlight?
It used to be that Director and Best Picture were united. But in hindsight one realizes that in 4 of the last 5 years they have split. Only director Alejandro Inarritu and Birdman both won.
Moonlight had only been awarded two Oscars - Jenkins' adapted screenplay, from a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali.
After Chazelle's Oscar, did anyone expect La La Land to lose? I was already celebrating the doughnuts I had won at the doughnut shop.
But Warren Beatty turned into wolfman before our eyes in the gleam of Moonlight.
It will be edifying to see how Moonlight does at the box office. Will its empathetic portray sell to a wide audience? Its $22 million pales in the sunshine of the $140 million made by La La Land. And the $152 million of the very popular Hidden Figures.
Moonlight is among the lowest grossing movies to ever win Best Picture.
Best Picture. Who knew? Not Warren Beatty or a bewildered critic.
But don't kill us.
We're only messengers.