Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Feb. 27 2017 11:35 PM

The Academy Apologizes for Announcing the Wrong Best Picture of 2016 (But Not All Those Other Years)

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences apologized in a statement on Monday for Sunday night’s Best Picture fiasco, in which La La Land was mistakenly named Best Picture before the award was given to Moonlight. “We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight whose experience was profoundly altered by this error,” they wrote. “To all involved—including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide—we apologize.”

In ominous news for PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm whose representative botched the envelope handoff, the rest of the statement makes it pretty clear where the blame lies, as far as the Academy is concerned:

PwC has taken full responsibility for the breaches of established protocols that took place during the ceremony. We have spent last night and today investigating the circumstances, and will determine what actions are appropriate going forward.

Although we applaud the Academy’s swift actions in this case, Martin Scorsese has been waiting more than three decades for his investigation and apology:

Feb. 27 2017 10:24 PM

Watch Conan Try to Raise Money for Trump’s Wall in Mexico City

It’s hard to pick which of Donald Trump’s ideas is the stupidest, but “Mexico will pay for us to build a border wall” is a pretty strong second-tier contender. (First tier is reserved for Trump’s ideas about himself.) As it happens, trying out phenomenally stupid ideas has been the point of late night television since David Letterman’s Alka-Seltzer suit, so Conan O’Brien gave this one a go. (Most of Trump’s other dumb ideas—“America should be an ethno-nationalist state where minorities live in terror,” “steak should be served well-done, with ketchup”—are way too repulsive to joke about.)

To try out Trump’s bad idea, Conan headed to Mexico City to ask people on the street to give money for the construction of the border wall. He came prepared, armed with a donation box and perks ranging from tote bags boasting about paying for the wall to autographed pictures of Donald Trump inscribed “Moochas Gracias.” Nevertheless, it went as well as you’d expect: O’Brien faced skeptical young people, finger-wagging grandmothers, and, of course, lots of folks taking selfies in the background. The total amount of money raised: presumably zero.


O’Brien launched the border wall pledge drive for his Conan Without Borders: Made in Mexico special, which will air on March 1. Who knows how great America will be by then?

Feb. 27 2017 4:19 PM

You Can Now Stream John Legend’s Dreamy La La Land Oscars Medley

La La Land won one of its six Academy Awards on Sunday night for the song “City of Stars,” beating out tunes from Moana, Jim: the James Foley Story, Trolls, and … La La Land. (Hey, it is a musical.) John Legend performed both of the Best Song nominees from the Damien Chazelle romance, winner “City of Stars” and “Audition,” in a dreamy Old Hollywood medley at the ceremony.

Though he has a supporting role in La La Land, Legend doesn’t actually sing either song in the film, so it was a good opportunity to find out how they sounded in the dulcet tones of a professional musician, rather than amateurs Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone. And if you liked Legend’s performance, you’re in luck: You can now stream that medley on Apple Music, Spotify, and more here.

Feb. 27 2017 4:15 PM

Could This Be the Title of Lorde’s New Album?

Earlier Monday, Lorde began teasing the release of her new … um, something. In the cryptic fashion of the modern promotional campaign, a video first aired on TV in Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s native New Zealand showed the singer, who has not put out a new original song since 2014, idly sipping from a Styrofoam cup in the back of a sedan, followed by the words “3.2.17 NYC” and “3.3.17 NZ.”

Reports already have a new, confidentially titled Lorde single hitting radio on March 7, so what, or who, is coming to New York and New Zealand at the end of the week? And what’s with the long-awaited followup to Lorde’s debut album, Pure Heroine? A further clue comes via Lorde’s Twitter feed, where this appeared a few hours after the video hit the web.

Feb. 27 2017 1:51 PM

The Accidental Poetry of Moonlight’s Awkward Best Picture Win

Moonlight didn’t just win Best Picture. It took it. The Academy Awards are inherently a zero-sum game: It may be an honor just to be nominated, but at the end of the night, there are the winners, and then there’s everyone else. But that’s never been illustrated as dramatically as it was last night, when the producers of La La Land were briefly awarded the Best Picture statuettes and then, due to a historic mix-up, compelled to hand them over to the real winners.

In theory, the envelope Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were accidentally handed could have belonged to any of the night’s winners: Just imagine Dunaway announcing, “And the best picture of the year goes to ... Suicide Squad!” But it’s fitting that the now-infamous duplicate, the backup for Actress in a Leading Role, had La La Land’s name on it as well as Emma Stone’s. Although Oscars prediction is a matter of educated guesswork rather than hard data, the perception from the moment the two films premiered in the same week last September was that Moonlight and La La Land were locked in a two-way race to the top. Had Moonlight received its award in normal, snafu-free fashion, the assumption would still have been that it had snatched the Best Picture Oscar away from that movie that had, by then, become the overwhelming favorite. That events conspired to produce a literal handoff from one film’s crew to another only made it concrete.

Feb. 27 2017 1:20 PM

Somehow People Are Finding a White Savior in Moonlight’s Win

By now, you’re probably aware that several people screwed up the presentation of Best Picture in the final moments of Sunday night’s Academy Awards, and La La Land was mistakenly announced as the victor. About midway through the rotation of speeches, producer Jordan Horowitz hopped on the mic to correct the mistake and reveal that the award was really for Moonlight. No, this wasn’t a symbolic gesture in the form of Grammy winners Adele and Macklemore—Moonlight had in fact won.

“I’m gonna be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight,” Horowitz said at one point, amongst the confusion and hubbub of it all.

And thus, a hero was born.

Feb. 27 2017 1:06 PM

Will Smith Is an LAPD Cop Living Among Orcs and Elves in the Teaser for New Netflix Fantasy Movie Bright

Netflix, fresh off its Oscar win for the documentary short White Helmets, also just dropped the first teaser for a new original movie during the Academy Awards on Sunday night. Their latest project, Bright, comes from the director of the Academy Award-lauded Suicide Squad, David Ayer, and takes place in an alternate-universe version of L.A., “where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies have been coexisting since the beginning of time.” Check out the trailer here:

As you can see, Will Smith stars as an LAPD cop, proving once again that no role is too insane for him to take: After all, police in riot gear combatting orcs in hoodies toting shotguns? What a gritty, unconventional, possibly ill-conceived idea for an action ... oh wait, there’s more, you say?

Ward, a human (Will Smith), and Jakoby, an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which in the wrong hands could destroy everything.”

Uh, way to bury the lede there, Netflix. You’re telling me this film is actually a buddy-cop movie starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, who is an orc? We’ve seen a wave of 21 Jump Street wannabes of late, but this one actually seems promising. Sign me up.

Bright, which also stars Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Margaret Cho, and Ike Barinholtz, will premiere on Netflix in December.

Feb. 27 2017 11:53 AM

New Lorde TV Spot Teases the Release of Her New Single (and Maybe More)

Lorde anunciando su regreso en los canales de nueva zelanda, EN CUATRO DIAS @umargentina #Lorde

A post shared by Lorde Argentina (@lordeargoficial) on

Lorde’s absence since her startling debut album Pure Heroine is going on four years now, but the New Zealand artist is finally teasing her return. In addition to her hyped SNL appearance coming in two weeks and the indication that her new single (“confidential title”) will premiere next week, Lorde took out a New Zealand TV spot implying that some new material might be arriving sooner than we think. While certainly unrevealing—and brief, featuring merely a few seconds of promising new music—it ends by announcing an “NYC” launch this Friday. Might this refer to her new single, or a potential appearance, or—best of all—a surprise album release?  Time will tell, but at the very least, it’s becoming clear that Lorde is headed back for the spotlight.

Feb. 27 2017 11:09 AM

John Oliver Says Time Is Running Out on Republicans’ Obamacare Replacement: “Tick Tock, Motherf—ers”

Republican lawmakers’ efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare have been repeatedly stalled since the election of Donald Trump, as seen most recently—and dramatically—with the pushback from their constituents at town hall events. It’s gotten to the point where in order to enact meaningful change that won’t be potentially harmful to millions, Congress might be running out of time. “Republicans have happily complained about the flaws of the law, taken no responsibility for fixing them, and in fact have often undermined the whole thing,” as John Oliver explained Sunday night. “But that time is now over. It is their turn to present a plan—and the clock is ticking.”

Oliver dedicated his main segment to the conversation on Obamacare, which remains complicated by misleading promises, logistical nuances, and a lengthy campaign to completely undermine the American health care system as it’s existed for the last seven years. (Over 20 million have gained coverage since its implementation.) Republicans have already changed their mission from “repeal” to “repair,” but the solutions they’re presenting remain significantly flawed. As such, according to Oliver, “Every time you get near something resembling a Republican plan, it seems to just recede into the distance.”


Oliver honed in, primarily, on the talking points conservatives tend to use when asked about how to improve the American health care system—briefly summarizing the benefits and drawbacks of refundable tax credits, Health Savings Accounts, block grants, and high-risk pools. As Oliver explained, each, in their own way, disproportionately hurts the sick and poor while offering greater flexibility to the healthy and financially stable.

And that’s a problem, per Oliver, because President Trump has repeatedly made blanket promises amounting to cheap, universal coverage for all Americans—convoluted and unworkable promises, admittedly, but promises all the same. Republicans are in a pretty tight spot, in other words. And Oliver could only revel in it: “Tick tock, motherfuckers.”

Feb. 27 2017 9:51 AM

Worst Picture: The Oscars Used a Photo of a Living Person In Its Celebrity Death Montage

Briefly crowning the wrong Best Picture was the 2017 Oscars’ most visible mistake, but it wasn’t its most egregious. That honor goes to the inclusion of a living person during the ceremony’s In Memoriam segment, the very-much-alive Australian producer Jan Chapman. The academy was correct that costumer designer and four-time nominee Janet Patterson had indeed passed away in October, but the picture they used was of Chapman, who was horrified by the error.

“I was devastated by the use of my image in place of my great friend and long-time collaborator Janet Patterson,” she said in an email statement to Variety. “I had urged her agency to check any photograph which might be used and understand that they were told that the Academy had it covered. Janet was a great beauty and four-time Oscar nominee and it is very disappointing that the error was not picked up. I am alive and well and an active producer.”


Chapman and Patterson, both stalwarts of the Australian film industry, did make seven movies together, including five by director Jane Campion—who, for the record, is also still alive.

Oh, and Billy Eichner called it: