The Oscar Mistake Heard Round The World!
Yes, we all know now that Best Picture presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were given the wrong envelope on Oscar night, and inadvertently announced “LaLa Land” as Best Picture instead of “Moonlight.”
This led to one of the most chaotic endings to the Awards ever – and cast Beatty and Dunaway as Oscar’s “out of touch older generation” who can’t even read a name off an envelope.
This is horribly unfair, and without delving into the controversy any more, I was also saddened to read on social media afterwards that many people didn’t even know who the two stars were!
I just wanted to remind everyone why both Beatty and Dunaway are iconic Hollywood stars who deserve more respect than this incident gave them…
Let’s begin with their joint masterpiece, “Bonnie & Clyde.” This Oscar-nominated 1967 film set new standards for violence in film, and was at the forefront of the new “honest and raw” cinema that emerged at the end of that decade.
My friend Alison Martino held an amazing screening and conversation in LA for this film, and you can see that event here:
This film was at the forefront of a sea change in Hollywood, and Dunaway and Beatty went on to make some of the greatest films of all time.
Dunaway didn’t win an Academy Award for “Bonnie & Clyde”, but when she did win, she was captured the morning after in one of the greatest Hollywood photos of all time:
This was Dunaway the morning after the 1976 Awards, sitting at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool surrounded by newspaper coverage of her win…with Oscar, of course…her victory was for one of the greatest performances ever, in a film full of them:
“I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'”
This brilliant indictment of television news was Oscar-nominated for Best Picture in 1976 – with an oscar-winning script by Paddy Cheyefky that saw the sordid future of TV – which has come true.
Here are the opening lines of the movie:
“This story is about Howard Beale, who was the news anchorman on UBS TV. In his time, Howard Beale had been a mandarin of television, the grand old man of news, with a HUT rating of 16 and a 28 audience share. In 1969, however, his fortunes began to decline. He fell to a 22 share. The following year, his wife died, and he was left a childless widower with an 8 rating and a 12 share. He became morose and isolated, began to drink heavily, and on September 22, 1975, he was fired, effective in two weeks. The news was broken to him by Max Schumacher, who was the president of the news division at UBS. The two old friends got properly pissed.”
This is a brilliant dissection of a business just waiting to be perverted by greed, money – and ratings.
Take a look at the trailer:
The movie won a slew of Oscars in 1976, including Peter Finch as Best Actor – his nomination and award were posthumous. Finch became the first posthumous winner in an acting category. Faye Dunaway won Best Actress, leading to this legendary photo the next morning.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role went to Beatrice Straight. Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen was awarded to the brilliant Paddy Chayefsky.
Dunaway was in some of the greatest films ever, including this masterpiece from 1974:
You can read more about that performance here:
As for Beatty, check out seminal films like “Shampoo”, “Heaven Can Wait” and “Red”…all classic films from one of Hollywood legends.
I hope that Beatty and Dunaway are given more respect than what came out right after the live mistake, and I plan to check out more of their great work!
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