Cheers and conspiracy theories at parties

Members of the audience reacting as Moonlight was named best picture, moments after La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner first.
Members of the audience reacting as Moonlight was named best picture, moments after La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner first. PHOTO: NYTIMES

The announcement of the wrong Best Picture winner was all anyone could talk about at the exclusive Oscar after-parties hosted by studios and talent agencies on Sunday night.

The Straits Times was at the Oscar viewing and after-parties held by both Lionsgate - the studio behind La La Land - and The Weinstein Company, which produced nominated film, Lion.

One invitee at the Lionsgate soiree said the moment the La La Land win was revealed to be a mistake "sucked the air out of the room" at the studio's private party held at Soho House West Hollywood, where guests rubbed shoulders with nominees such as Mel Gibson (nominated for Best Director for Hacksaw Ridge) and other celebrities, including actors Tobey Maguire and Vince Vaughn.

"One minute everyone was cheering - and then we saw the guy with the mic rushing around on stage and we knew something was wrong," said an actor at the Lionsgate party, who declined to be named.

The excruciating moment was also greeted with a collective intake of breath at The Weinstein Company party held at Tao restaurant in Hollywood.

At both parties, speculation about whose fault it was and what had happened was rife, with a few early conspiracy theories being floated.

"Maybe it was a prank," said one studio executive of the envelope mix-up.

 

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Oscar-nominated Singaporean sound editor Ai-Ling Lee, 38, who missed out on an Oscar this year and was at the Lionsgate party, said she felt bad for the La La Land winners having to go through that on stage, but felt it was "very gracious" of the movie's producer Jordan Horowitz to take charge and rectify the mistake the way he did.

The mood at the Lionsgate event was jubilant, nevertheless, because of the other wins its film had racked up, including Best Actress for Emma Stone and Best Director for Damien Chazelle.

At the Weinstein party, each nomination that Lion was up for drew cheers, then a subdued silence as it lost to the other contenders.

As one disgruntled Weinstein loyalist dismissively remarked when La La Land picked up yet another statue, "La La Land, schmalaland".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2017, with the headline 'Cheers and conspiracy theories at parties'. Print Edition | Subscribe