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A wild finish saved the Oscars from being almost completely forgettable.


Jimmy Kimmel tried for a bunch of “Ellen moments” and ended up with one (Gary is the new Ken Bone). But otherwise he was a replacement-level Oscar host: He veered into Seth MacFarlane territory without being too boorish, but was also topical without being relevant. The best thing about the 89th Oscars was its diversity: By the two-hour mark it was already the first with more than three black winners.

Then the major awards were given out. After being shut out early, the charmless La La Land began to pick up steam. It won twice for music (it has the curious distinction of being a musical with zero memorable songs) and Damien Chezelle won for direction. That set the tone for what seemed like a descent into familiar #OscarsSoWhite territory. Casey Affleck, who has been sued by multiple women who have accused him of sexual harassment, won for acting. Notable non-Asian woman Emma Stone won for La La Land. And then, after bumbling for a few moments, Warren Beatty announced that La La Land had also won Best Picture.

It was a classic Oscar moment—defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, the old bad ways raining on the progress that had been made earlier in the night. But then something fucking insane that I still don’t quite understand happened. Midway through the speeches, the producers of La La Land asked for the people behind Moonlight to join them on stage ... because Warren Beatty had read the wrong card. Moonlight, the only truly deserving Best Picture, not La La Land, had won Best Picture. (To their credit, the La La Land people handled this as gracefully as humanly possible.)

It was simultaneously a deflating and a triumphant note to end on. But at least the right movie won.