'Moonlight' wins top award at Oscars after announcement gaffe

'Moonlight' wins top award at Oscars after announcement gaffe
Barry Jenkins' coming-of-age drama "Moonlight" walked away with the top award at the Oscars but its thunder was stolen by a bizarre announcement mix-up that initially declared "La La Land" as the best picture winner.

The final moment of the 89th Academy Award ceremony was full of confusion as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced "La La Land" as the winner because they had the wrong envelope.

The producers of "La La Land" were almost through their acceptance speech when the error was detected and Jordon Horowitz, one of the producers, graciously called the team of "Moonlight" onstage.

"I'm sorry, no, there's a mistake. 'Moonlight,' you guys won best picture. This is not a joke," Horowitz said. A shocked Jenkins said, "...even in my dreams, this could not be true. But to hell with dreams, I'm done with it, 'cause this is true. Oh my goodness."

He later told reporters the incident was unfortunate but he was happy they won the best picture award. Host Jimmy Kimmel also called it "unfortunate" while a flustered Beatty clarified that when he opened the envelope, "it said Emma Stone, La La Land. I wasn't trying to be funny."

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm in charge of tabulating nominations and votes for the Oscars, apologised for the gaffe. "We sincerely apologize to 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land,' Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, (it) was immediately corrected," the statement read.

"Moonlight", Jenkins' second film, was critically loved for its tender portrayal of a young black man grappling with his sexuality while growing up in a rough Miami neighbourhood.

Jenkins and McCraney also won the best adapted screenplay for the small budget drama. The film's star Mahershala Ali became the first black Muslim to win the best supporting actor trophy.

"La La Land", a clear front-runner thanks to its winning momentum in previous awards, entered the race with 14 nominations out of which it managed to win six including the best score and the best song for 'City of Stars'.

Its director Damien Chazelle, 32, who has been called a Hollywood 'wunderkind' for his visionary style of storytelling, became the youngest ever director to win while the film's leading star, Emma Stone, took home the best actress trophy.

"I realize a moment like this is a huge confluence of luck and opportunity," Stone said in her speech.

"I want to thank Damien Chazelle for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the project that was so special and once in a lifetime. I am so grateful to be involved in this film," Stone said.

"I still have a lot of growing and learning and work to do, and this guy (Oscar trophy) is a really beautiful symbol to continue on that journey," she added.

"Manchester by the Sea" star Casey Affleck, actor Ben Affleck's younger brother, won the best actor trophy for his portrayal of a grief-stricken man.

"Man, I wish I had something better and more meaningful to say... I'm just dumbfounded that I am included," said Affleck.
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