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I turned off the Oscars before the best part!
Jordan Horowitz, producer of "La La Land," shows the envelope revealing "Moonlight" as the true winner of best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26. Presenter Warren Beatty and host Jimmy Kimmel look on from right. - photo by Jim Bennett
So who wants to watch the Academy Awards with me? my mother asked.

My regular routine is to not watch the Academy Awards, but that was before Mom moved back into town. To her, the Oscars are still must-see TV, so she provided an incentive to get me to watch them again when she came over for Sunday dinner. I wasnt particularly excited to sit through three-plus hours of Hollywood self-congratulation, so I think my sub-basement-level expectations allowed me to be pleasantly surprised by how watchable they were.

I was bracing myself for a host of self-righteous Trump bashing, but the political preening was kept to a minimum. Sure, host Jimmy Kimmel made a point of introducing Mary Streep as extremely overrated, but that was more playful than pointed, and his breezy, light-hearted approach to his hosting duties helped the show to move along at a relatively brisk pace. His long-running fake feud with Matt Damon provided a great deal of delightful comic fodder, especially when Damon came out with Ben Affleck and they were introduced as Ben Affleck and guest and when Kimmel conducted the orchestra to play Damon off the stage while he was trying to present an award.

So, yes, there were plenty of boring speeches and awards I didnt care about, but we started watching about 45 minutes late, which gave us plenty of DVR leeway to fast forward through the commercials and the boring bits. I had seen only two of the best picture nominees Arrival and Hidden Figures. I was rooting for Hidden Figures to take home the top prize, but I knew that was extremely unlikely, so I didnt have much of a stake in who won and who lost. When Faye Dunaway announced La La Land as the big winner, we were done. My brother flipped off the TV as the producers were taking the stage, thinking the show was over.

Big mistake.

A couple of minutes later, I got a news alert on my phone saying that there had been a mistake and Moonlight had actually won best picture, so I went back and watched the recording to see what I had missed. It really was an extraordinary moment it felt like a joke at first, as it was consistent with the stunt Kimmel had pulled earlier in the evening when he invited the contents of a Hollywood tour bus in off the street to crash the Oscars. Its just so surreal to see something so spontaneous and unexpected happen in the middle of an event that is scripted down to the tiniest detail.

Since then, there have been a number of attempts to make this kerfuffle more significant than it really was. People were quick to assign blame to Warren Beatty, and a multitude of conspiracy theories cropped up to explain what, by all accounts, appears to be a simple and honest mistake.

What impressed me the most was how gracious the La La Land producers were when they had to hand their Oscars off to the Moonlight folks. I would think losing an Academy Award is hard enough without having to parade in front of the world as the Oscar is snatched out of your hands. But there was no argument, no tears, no demands for a recount, and the Moonlight producers responded with kind speeches acknowledging the awkwardness of the circumstances in which they found themselves. All in all, I dont know if it could have been handled any better.

Does this mean Ill tune in next year?

Well, probably, yes.

But only if Mom wants to watch them again.
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