No lead in America is safe. The Golden State Warriors were up 3-1 in the Finals. So were the Indians in the World Series. The Falcons were leading 28-3 against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Hillary Clinton was smashing Donald Trump in the polls. And the producers of La La Land were standing on the Oscars’ stage, halfway through their speeches, holding those Oscar statues, when they lost. The underdog Moonlight had won.
This off-camera shot of the cast/crew of Moonlight winning Best Picture pic.twitter.com/uWfxehXRsJ
— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) February 27, 2017
Movies aren’t sports, though. There wasn’t a lead to blow; nothing La La Land or Moonlight could’ve done right or wrong that night to change their fates. Someone made a mistake, handed Warren Beatty the wrong envelope, or it was all a massive conspiracy theory. With the (don’t say “politically-charged times we live in”) rampant distrust and suspicion coursing through American society, our “fake news” and “alternative facts,” that someone might rig the Oscars isn’t necessarily plausible—but it’s not not plausible either.
Luckily, The Fresh Toast investigative team has identified some possible suspects and dug deep on whether or not they did it. Think of this as a massive Clue game, except the murder victim is Damien Chazelle’s shattered heart.
Suspicion: He presented the award, and was caught with the incorrect envelope in hand.
Why him?: Warren Beatty seemed like he was doing a bit. He read the piece of paper, looked around, confused, and double-taked in Faye Dunaway’s direction. He opened the envelope again, searching through it, as if something was missing. Beatty then showed Dunaway the placard and she shouted out La La Land as the winner.
When the mix-up was later revealed, and the La La Land crew exited the stage as Moonlight’s crew replaced them, Beatty said, “’I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, La La Land and that is why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) February 27, 2017
Everyone asked Beatty if they could see the card, but he refused. As Moonlight director Barry Jenkins told reporters, “Everybody was asking, ‘Can I see the card?’ And he’s like, ‘No, Barry Jenkins has to see the card. I need him to know.’ And he showed it to me, and I felt better about what had happened.”
Motive: None, really. Other than him being an old, white guy in Hollywood who’s going to support the old, white guy in Hollywood movie La La Land at all costs? Considering the absolute dread and dismay on Beatty’s face, blaming Beatty is a reach at best.
Did he do it?: Warren Beatty robs banks, not awards. Leave the legend alone.
Suspicion: He presented the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
— Andy Ihnatko (@Ihnatko) February 27, 2017
Why him?: As it seems Beatty made a genuine mistake, exacerbated by Dunaway’s shoot-your-shot exclamation, the questions becomes, How did that wrong envelope enter the equation? Well.
The standard protocol for Oscar presenters is to hand the envelope and card to the winner. Leo, as visible from the standard broadcast footage scrutinized as if it were the Zapruder film, didn’t do that. This line of reasoning was quickly refuted, however, by Emma Stone backstage.
“We would have loved to have won best picture. But we are so excited for Moonlight. I think it’s one of the best films of all time,” she said. “I was also holding my ‘best actress in a leading role’ card that entire time. So whatever story, I don’t mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I had that card.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers is the professional services firm who handles the Oscars envelopes. They revealed in a Q&A a few weeks ago that two sets of envelopes exist for every Academy Award.
We each have a full set. I have all 24 envelopes in my briefcase; Martha has all 24 in hers. We stand on opposite sides of the stage, right off-screen, for the entire evening, and we each hand the respective envelope to the presenter. It doesn’t sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you’re giving the presenter the right envelope.
Motive: Because the Oscars and Leo hold a fraught relationship history: He should’ve won for Wolf of Wall Street and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and probably nominated for a few others. But…
Did he do it?: Nah. Leo’s too consumed with dread over global warming and the world ending.
Suspicion: He was the Oscar host and renowned prankster.
Why him?: The twerking girl on fire video, his recurring Halloween candy bit, the “wolf” at Sochi Olympics, that prank war he started with his neighbors John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. He is the king of big-stage pranking.
this was kimmel's best prank tbh
— Lana Berry (@Lana) February 27, 2017
But Kimmel helped sort out the epic blunder onstage, trying to alleviate the moment with a dig at Steve Harvey, and seemed legitimately dejected over the mishap.
“It’s funny, I was about to go on stage and do a bit with Matt Damon and a doughnut, but I said, ‘I think I have to go on stage,’ because otherwise our stage manager Gary [Natoli] was going to have to finesse it,” he told the LA Times. “Listen, it’s a TV show.”
Motive: Shooters shoot, pranksters prank.
Did he do it?: Kimmel delights in owning up to his pranks. He loves the “gotcha” moment he’s earned time and time again. If he did it, he’d tell us straight up.
Suspicion: His ongoing feud with Jimmy Kimmel.
Why him?: Because some people truly believe Matt Damon, in his continuing fabricated rivalry with Kimmel, would ruin a gorgeous moment that Moonlight miraculously crowned the year’s best movie on Hollywood’s biggest stage. Yes, Damon would pull that because Kimmel wouldn’t let him on a dumb talk show.
— Julie Salek (@tampajulie) February 27, 2017
Motive: Absolutely none.
Did he do it?: Absolutely not.
Suspicion: BoJack Horseman’s own has done it before.
I'm bout to throw on the Bojack episode where Mr. Peanutbutter loses the Oscar envelope and freestyles the winner.
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) February 27, 2017
Why him?: You might argue that Mr. Peanutbutter is a cartoon character. But if you haven’t noticed, we currently live in a cartoon world where cartoon characters make regular appearances on the news and the internet. Thanks to smartphones and screens, our 3D reality morphs into a two-dimensional space more each day.
Also why him?: Because it’s literally just as plausible a cartoon character sabotaged an awards show as anyone else on this list.
SEE! IT HAPPENS! #Oscars
— BoJack Horseman (@BoJackHorseman) February 27, 2017
Motive: He’s kind of a dumb ass?
Did he do it?: Yes it was definitely all Mr. Peanutbutter’s fault. Todd might have inadvertently assisted when he was on one of his wacky adventures.
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