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Oscar Snubs and Surprises: The Academy Didn't Go Gaga for La La Land

Say it with us: "Academy Award winner Suicide Squad"

Joyce Eng

Sunday's 89th Academy Awards was an emotional roller coaster. La La Land entered the show with a record-tying 14 nominations and didn't win its first award until more than halfway through the show. Then it won a slew of awards as expected, with Faye Dunaway announcing it as the Best Picture winner. Except it wasn't. There was an envelope mishap and Moonlight was the real winner. We still don't really know what exactly happened, except that it was not Warren Beatty's fault. #Justice4Warren. It's hard to top that, but there were some other comparatively minor shockeroos.


Moonlight's fairy-tale ending: The gaffe is going to dominate the headlines, but Moonlight's Best Picture win was a big -- and great -- upset. La La Land's coronation seemed inevitable, but the musical has taken some backlash, including charges of being racially tone deaf. But everyone loves Moonlight and its poignant coming-of-age tale, and the film benefited from the preferential ballot used for Best Picture, which prioritizes consensus over passion, and is now the second film after Braveheart to win Best Picture without winning the Producers Guild Award, Directors Guild Award or Screen Actors Guild Award for ensemble. After two years of #OscarsSoWhite, this is a huge statement for inclusivity over the escapism and congratulatory self-pat La La Land encapsulated. Moonlight is the second film about the black experience to win Best Picture after 12 Years a Slave.

Suicide Squad is an Oscar winner: As of 8:58 p.m. ET on Feb. 26, 2017, Suicide Squad will forever be known as an Academy Award-winning film. David Ayers' hot mess won makeup and styling over Star Trek Beyond and A Man Called Ove. It's not just a big win for the film, but DC Comics in general -- its Marvel Cinematic Universe rival is still awaiting its first Oscar win.

Kevin O'Connell: It was lucky No. 21, Kevin O'Connell. The 20-time loser won on his 21st nomination when Hacksaw Ridge upset La La Land in sound mixing -- a category in which musicals have typically thrived. Hacksaw later won editing over both La La Land and Moonlight, meaning this is the fourth straight year that editing and picture have not matched. But a nomination is more important than a win -- Birdman was the first film to win Best Picture without an editing nomination since Ordinary People.

Check out our complete Oscars coverage here

Arrival avoids a shut-out: The cerebral, moving and topical film had eight nominations and wasn't a frontrunner in any of them, but it pulled off an upset in sound editing. The win ensured that Arrival wouldn't become the seventh film to go 0-8.


La La Land and Moonlight

Kevin Winter/Getty Images


La La Land: The musical still made out with six awards, making it the biggest haul since The Hurt Locker won six statuettes seven years ago. But it definitely wasn't the domination many had expected after the film scored 14 nods. There was speculation that it could tie Ben-Hur, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with a record 11 wins, which became very clear early on wasn't going to happen after it got blanked for more than half the show. La La Land's loss means the SAG ensemble award stat still stands: No film has won Best Picture without a SAG ensemble nod since Braveheart 21 years ago, when the ensemble award was first introduced at SAG. It also means that we are going on 12-plus years without Best Picture and Best Actress going to the same film. Still, La La Land made some history: Damien Chazelle, 32, broke an 85-year-old record to become the youngest Best Director winner -- making it the 25th picture/direct split in history and the fourth in the past five years -- while Emma Stone is the fourth woman to win Best Actress for a musical after icons Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli.

Lion and Hidden Figures: Two feel-good movies went home empty-handed. Lion went 0-6, while Hidden Figures went 0-3. Both scored big precursor wins in the past month: Hidden Figures won the SAG ensemble award and Lion took home two BAFTAs, for adapted screenplay and supporting actor for Dev Patel. The films and four-time nominee Hell or High Water were the only Best Picture nominees to leave the Dolby with a goose egg.

Denzel Washington: Washington's SAG win last month made the Best Actor race very interesting because the SAG Best Actor award has the best correlation with Oscar out of the four acting races: It's only mismatched four times in SAG's 22-year history and was on 12-year match streak. But Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), who was the frontrunner the whole season, edged out the Fences star for his first win, making him and Ben the 12th set of brothers to win Oscars. Had Washington won, it would've been his third Oscar, and as I had mentioned, the third win is a huge hurdle. Only five other people have won three (Katharine Hepburn has four) and two of them, Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis, won their third in the past five years. It took 34 years for the first three three-timers to achieve it.

Lin-Manuel Miranda: The Hamilton mastermind's EGOT will have to wait. Miranda, who was up for penning "How Far I'll Go" from Moana, had an outside shot of upsetting La La Land in Best Original Song, where the musical had two nominees but had funneled its support behind eventual winner "City of Stars." Any other La La Land-less year, though, and you know Miranda would've become the youngest to EGOT. On the other end of the spectrum, Viola Davis got one step closer to an EGOT, taking home the supporting actress Oscar for Fences to become 23rd person and first black actor to win the Triple Crown of Acting (Oscar, Emmy and Tony).