Inside the theater
After what was perhaps the wildest interlude in Oscars history as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced “La La Land” as the best picture winner Sunday before it was announced that “Moonlight” actually took the top prize, attendees were in shock as they left the theater. That group included “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz, who had already given an acceptance speech before realizing that his film hadn’t actually won.
As he was greeted by people telling him how graciously he handled the gaffe, Horowitz said, “They handed me the envelope, it said ‘Moonlight’ won. It was an out-of-body experience. I love those guys, and I’m happy they won. What can you do?”
“Moonlight” star Trevante Rhodes couldn’t believe what had happened.
“It’s weird. I’m equally pissed off and happy. This is the Oscars. How can they mess that up? But still, it’s a win. Everyone was happy. It’s just very unique.”
The hallway backstage was filling up shortly before the show. Security guards listened to their earphones. Shirley MacLaine followed Alicia Vikander into the green room. Javier Bardem sipped a drink. Meryl Streep chatted near a black curtain. Dakota Johnson, wearing a champagne-colored gown, ducked into the hallway bathroom. She emerged moments later with both a grimace and a grin: “It’s pretty gnarly in there.” Two men in tuxes and wearing white gloves stacked Oscar statuettes on lighted shelves in the wings.
During the first commercial break, only a few stars dared leave their seats so early in the show. Gael García Bernal made a break for the men’s room, but Jamie Dornan and Scarlett Johansson each posted up at a bar. The actress was sporting 10 earrings in her left ear — by our count, anyway — and insisted to a friend that they were all real. “Oh, I’ve been getting piercings for a looong time.”
Unlike at the Golden Globes, which is centered on a boozy dinner, there’s no food or drink allowed inside the Dolby. That means that during commercial breaks, nominees have to sneak out to the bar area to get snacks. Those looking to nosh, however, don’t have a lot of options: There were only miniature cookies and sesame snack mix up for grabs. Later in the show, individually wrapped oatmeal raisin and chocolate mint cookies were given to the theater guests.
Musician John Legend was strolling toward the wings backstage when a woman yelled out: “Your best friend’s behind you, John.” Looking a bit baffled as cameras flashed, Legend said, “Who’s my best friend?”
He turned and saw Ryan Gosling, his “La La Land” costar and lead actor nominee, and put his arm around him. Moments later Gosling and costar Emma Stone, winner of the lead actress Oscar, watched in the wings as Legend performed a medley of songs from the film as dancers swirled suspended against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills at twilight.
In the press room
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi chose not to attend the awards in protest of the recent immigration ban and asked Firouz Naderi and Anousheh Ansari to accept the foreign language film award on his behalf if his film “The Salesman” were to win. It did. When asked why he thought the pair was chosen, Naderi said, “She’s an astronaut. I work for NASA. If you go away from the Earth and look back, you don’t see any of the borders.... I think he chose the both of us to say ‘come together.’”
On the red carpet
When asked why film was important to him, original song nominee for “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” and “Hamilton” mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda reflected on his childhood. “It’s important to me because it showed me worlds I never knew were possible. It exposed me to cultures I never would have otherwise seen. It transported me beyond my small neighborhood in uptown New York. I’m standing here because I saw ‘Little Mermaid’ when I was 10 and it changed my life. I couldn’t believe they broke into a Caribbean tune in the middle of a Disney movie. And here I am with a nominated tune for a Disney movie. How ... cool is that?”
Barry Jenkins walked out of the Dolby Theatre on Sunday with an adapted screenplay Oscar for best picture winner “Moonlight,” which he also directed. But before the ceremony, when asked why the Oscars matter he talked about the power of film to reflect the world in which we live. “The Oscars, theoretically, is the best at that reflection,” he said. “I think what we show on stage at these ceremonies, in the audience, and films nominated, it’s a statement about what America is and the state of the world at this current moment. I think it’s important in that way. The diversity of the nominees this year is proof-positive of that.”