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Biggest Oscar Snubs and Surprises: ‘Moonlight’ Takes Top Prize, Denzel Washington Misses Out

The Oscars gave us the biggest shock ever, not only with “La La Land” being unseated but with the show announcing the wrong best picture winner. While everyone will be talking about it for years, there were some other surprises on Hollywood’s big night.

SURPRISE: Best Picture, “Moonlight”
What more can be said about the most shocking moment ever on the Academy Awards show? “Moonlight” won best picture, besting frontrunner “La La Land,” but the wrong title was announced. But in the classiest moment of the night, “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz said he would be “proud to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight.'”

SNUB: Denzel Washington, “Fences”
Many tabbed Washington to win his third Academy Award for starring in the adaptation of August Wilson’s masterpiece, particularly after his SAG Awards win. But in the end, the best actor prize went to BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea” and Washington was the only SAG Award winner of this year to not match the Oscars.

SURPRISE: Two top awards for “Manchester by the Sea”
While Kenneth Lonergan’s acclaimed film was certainly a frontrunner for best actor and original screenplay, nothing was certain as it faced stiff competition in both categories. Particularly after Washington won the SAG Award, Affleck was far from a sure thing, but it pulled out two major wins.

SURPRISE: Colleen Atwood, Costume Design, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
Though Colleen Atwood already had three Oscars for costume design, the frontrunners in the category were perceived to be “La La Land” or “Jackie.” But Atwood took home her fourth Academy Award – and the first ever for a “Harry Potter” film.

SNUB: Laika and “Kubo and the Two Strings”
Despite nominations not only in the animated film category but in production design, the stop-motion “Kubo” went home empty-handed. That means the ambitious Laika Studios still has yet to win an Academy Award, despite receiving nominations for all its films – “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” and “The Boxtrolls.”

SURPRISE: Sound Mixing and Sound Editing Categories
Not only did the sound categories split, going to two different movies, neither of them was perceived frontrunner “La La Land.” In Sound Editing, “Arrival” bested the competition, and in Sound Mixing, “Hacksaw Ridge” was victorious—making it the first win for Kevin O’Connell after 20 nominations.

SNUB: “Lion,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Hell or High Water”
All acclaimed films went in with best picture nominations and multiple nods (“Lion” with six, “Hell or High Water” with four, “Hidden Figures” with three) but all went home empty-handed.

SNUB: James Laxton, cinematographer, “Moonlight”                                                                                                Though “La La Land” and cinematographer Linus Sandgren were favored to win, many observers on Twitter felt best picture winner “Moonlight” would have been a better choice for its nuanced visuals of 1990s Florida.

See the full list of Oscar winners here.

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