How The Best Picture Screw-Up Really Went Down
Boardroom of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Beverly Hills. The Oscars are next week. Seated around the table are a dozen representatives who make up the Board. Each representative is 89% white and 73% male, and they are all exactly 63 years old. At the head of the table is OSCAR, a mystical distillation of the Academy. He looks like Ted Danson in The Good Place.
Well, the results are in! Moonlight won Best Picture.
REPRESENTATIVES (murmuring amongst themselves)
Wow, great, black, great, LGBTQ, cool, chef’s special, wow.
It’s clear that this is just what the doctor ordered for this country right now. Like, I know we usually just give Best Picture to whichever movie paints show business in the best light, but come on—imagine if Trump, the Patriots, AND La La Land won?
REPRESENTATIVES (murmuring amongst themselves)
True, yeah, haha, remember The Artist, haha, me neither.
But we’re faced with a more pressing issue. The last Oscars were the lowest-rated in eight years. It’s clear that we’re losing touch with the American public, and especially with those strange, Snapchatting creatures known as millennials, who terrify us. We tried appealing to them in 2011 by hiring those famous actors that millennials love and definitely do not despise, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, and we all know how well that went. So the question remains: how to get millennials back to watching our show. What do they like?
What about an on-air fuck-up that would instantly go viral while at the same time delivering a much-needed underdog victory and re-establishing our ceremony as can’t-miss television…
Slow zoom in on OSCAR’s face
OSCAR walks along a road up in the Hollywood Hills. The stars are shining just for him, but also for RYAN GOSLING, EMMA STONE, and DAMIEN CHAZELLE, who are walking alongside him.
So what do you think?
You want us to play along with pretending we won, only to have us have to give up the trophy after 30 seconds, on stage, humiliating us publicly…just to take over the news cycle for the next week?
Umm, pretty much.
What’s in it for me?
How about Best Director?
Yeah, Mel Gibson somehow won for Hacksaw Ridge, and we’re sure as hell not going to give it to that piece of shit.
You’re still going to give Best Actor to Casey Affleck, though…
Anyway, what do you say?
RYAN GOSLING slowly lifts up a remote car lock to his chin and clicks it once. Somewhere a car beeps. He runs off excitedly.
It’s a yes from Ryan.
And you can guarantee I’ll win Best Actress?
Yeah, you legit won. It was you or Huppert, and not a single voter actually watched Elle.
Alright, then, sure. It’ll make us look gracious, at least.
It’s a wrap! Cue the music!
Jazz plays from an unknown source as the three of them begin an elaborately choreographed dance number. JK Simmons pops his head in real quick and then leaves. They all blast off into the night sky.
A beach. MAHERSHALA ALI stands in four feet of water and tenderly holds OSCAR in a backfloat. BARRY JENKINS is in a floaty tube nearby. The cinematography is fucking exquisite.
Hahahahaha yeah we won! Eat it, Chazelle!
He is so excited he capsizes. He pops back up, still beaming.
So ordinarily I wouldn’t want to share the Best Picture spotlight—like, we won fair and square, so what’s to be gained from staging a mix-up—
—but now I’m thinking, our film is about tolerance and acceptance. It’s a story of love and inclusivity, and I am feeling so tolerant and accepting and love-filled and inclusive that I am going to do something nice for you, Oscar. I’m going to go along with this dumb plot. And trust that I will be able to create whatever I want for the rest of my life with the full blessings and finances of Hollywood.
Of course! That is a power that I, as a mystical distillation of Hollywood, possess! Plus, people are going to be so happy when all is revealed. Like, doubly happy. Twitter’s gonna explode. What say you, Mahershala?
MAHERSHALA ALI (wisely, sagely)
That’s my Best Supporting Actor!
MAHERSHALA ALI (saintly, serenely)
INT—WARREN BEATTY’S CAR.
OSCAR is in the backseat of the car as WARREN BEATTY and FAYE DUNAWAY are riding in the front. They have just robbed a bank. OSCAR is car-sick.
So you just read the one we give you, okay? But sell it a little bit so it seems like you’re unsure about what you’re reading.
And this will make me go…virile?
No, it’s viral, gross, but yes, a whole new generation of young people will get to know your name. I’m sorry, but kids don’t really watch Bonnie and Clyde nowadays. This will get you back in the spotlight! You’ll be famous on a whole new level! You’ll get memed!
WARREN BEATTY (swerving to avoid a pothole; Oscar retches)
It’s a good thing, darling.
WARREN BEATTY takes both hands off the steering wheel and turns around to shake the hand of OSCAR, who is screaming as the car speeds down the highway unmanned. CLOSE UP on WARREN BEATTY’S hands.
CROSS FADE TO:
The Oscars. Best Picture is being announced. WARREN BEATTY’s hands reach out and grab the fateful envelope. He opens it, sees the phrase “Warren Beatty, remember to say ‘La La Land’ now lol it’s all a hoax” written on it. He smiles and winks at the camera.
CUT TO BLACK—END TITLES