Student defends film amid Oscar mix-up

Commentary by
CONOR HURLEY

One of the sadder things about this Best Picture fiasco is that Warren Beatty, an icon in the world of film, will be known by the 21st century-meme culture as the guy who dropped the ball at the Academy Awards.

With his film “Bonnie & Clyde,” which he produced and starred in alongside his co-presenter Sunday night, Faye Dunaway, Beatty broke through the walls of the Hayes Code and made film fun again.

The Hayes Code was basically a series of censorship restrictions. It’s the reason why married couples slept in separate beds and sex and death scenes happened off camera. “Bonnie & Clyde” saw to it that the Hayes Code went down the same way its title characters did: in a blaze of glory.

Considering Beatty’s legacy in Hollywood, it seemed almost fitting that he co-present the award to “La La Land.” Though the film isn’t violent, it’s an ode to Hollywood and jazz, the definitive counter-cultural genre of music.

However, such was not the case. The look of confusion on Beatty’s face was obvious. He knew something was wrong when the card read: Emma Stone- “La La Land.”

Not wanting to jump the gun or halt the show, Beatty passed the card to Dunaway, who was now eager to get things moving. She read the name of the movie on the card.

Though some found it upsetting, one couldn’t really be surprised to see “La La Land” win Best Picture. It already racked up a number of awards, including big ones such as Best Director and Best Actress. It was one of the clear favorites to win the award leading up to the event, rivaled only by “Moonlight.”

With pride and passion, the producers of “La La Land” took the stage.

The night wasn’t over yet, though. After a producer of the event ran out on stage with the correct envelope, it was revealed the winner of Best Picture was actually “Moonlight.”

With frustration and disappointment, “La La Land” producers broke the news to the millions watching around the world. They were accepting, though. They gracefully and respectfully gave the stage to the night’s real winners. Warren Beatty awkwardly tried to explain himself. Jimmy Kimmel cracked a few jokes. The show ended. But the conversation continued on the internet and beyond.

After reading articles, tweets and Facebook posts over the last two days, I have some thoughts of my own on the mishap at the Academy Awards:

Give “La La Land” a break. Many were upset at the lack of color in the cast of the film. Many more were upset at how the film whitewashed the history of jazz music.

Give them a break. To take away from the countless hours of the cast and crew of a film due to the ethnic background of its cast is petty.

In a film like this, especially, it’s obvious that innumerable hours were spent perfecting the project. The performances were charming. The music was moving. The cinematography and choreography were awe-inspiring. Please allow everyone who gave themselves to that project to feel proud of themselves for their achievements.

Furthermore, consider that “La La Land” is the first film to ever publically lose an Academy Award.

Presenters intentionally say “And the award goes to…” and not “And the winner is…” to avoid labeling the other nominees as “losers.”  The producers of “La La Land” got to feel all the pride and the payoff of all the hard work that goes along with winning Best Picture but two minutes later had to admit in front of the millions of people that they did not win.

Give. La. La. Land. A. Break.

On the other hand, however, stop hating on “Moonlight.”

“Moonlight” is an iconic film. It depicts a story that isn’t often told. The story of the homosexual struggle in poverty stricken areas. For that alone, “Moonlight” is deserving of critical acclaim. Add in the performances, the music, the lighting and cinematography.

Liking one movie does not mean you have to hate the other. “La La Land” and “Moonlight” are two amazing movies that just follow two different schools of thought. La La Land is classic escapism. It allows the audience to feel two hours of wonder and awe as Gosling and Stone light up the screen and the heart.

“Moonlight” is a different kind of escapism. It allows the audience to escape their lives but experience a life more painful. Moonlight is equally as educational as it’s entertaining.

The point is both movies are great. Appreciate both for what they are. Oh, and also, if you haven’t seen “La La Land,” don’t give an opinion on it. And if you haven’t seen “Moonlight,” don’t give an opinion on it.

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