Lesson for Trump in ‘La La Land’ grace

“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz hands over the best picture award to “Moonlight” writer/director Barry Jenkins.
“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz hands over the best picture award to “Moonlight” writer/director Barry Jenkins.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

PRESIDENT TRUMP, THE sorest winner in the land, could learn something important from Jordan Horowitz, one of the producers of “La La Land.” Grace.

“I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight,’ ” said Horowitz, after he and his co-producers crashed, incredibly, from triumph to defeat, during the most shocking episode in Oscars history. And, if you think about it, that unscripted response of winner-turned-loser was a more powerful rebuttal of Trump than all the planned barbs and references to diversity hurled the president’s way during Hollywood’s biggest night.

Called up as winners of best picture, Horowitz and co-producer Marc Platt had delivered their acceptance speeches. Producer Fred Berger began thanking his family, when he turned to an ongoing commotion behind him, then back to the audience, and said, “We lost, by the way.”


Stepping forward, Horowitz said, “Guys, guys, I’m sorry. There’s been a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.” He then held up the card showing the real winner — “Moonlight . . . Best Picture.” Apparently, presenter Warren Beatty was handed the wrong envelope, which he then handed to co-presenter Faye Dunaway. This mistake, considered epic by Hollywood awards standards, was investigated more quickly and thoroughly than any allegation of contact between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Before the best-picture mix-up took over the narrative, the predictably anti-Trump theme of the show was the main story of the night. At the start, host Jimmy Kimmel riffed about a “divided nation” and turned Trump’s previous description of actress Meryl Streep as “overrated” into a running joke. Kimmel also mocked Trump’s Twitter habit, with an especially tasteless reference: “We’re at the Oscars, the Academy Awards,” he said. “Some of you will be able to come up here on the stage tonight and give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow.”


Ashgar Farhadi, an Iranian who won the best foreign-language film award, but stayed away from the Oscars to protest Trump, had a representative read this statement on his behalf: “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.” Expressing similar outrage in person, Mexican actor and presenter Gael Garcia Bernal told the crowd, “As a Mexican, Latin American migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any kind of wall that wants to separate us.”

All that helps Trump with his base. He’s happy to keep on running against the elite in Washington, New York, or Hollywood. To Trump supporters, Trump bashers are all part of the same condescending universe. But when a member of that elite universe shows character, as Horowitz did, that changes the equation. And the show of character extended to the shocked cast of “Moonlight.” When he realized they were winners, director Barry Jenkins said, “Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true. But to hell with dreams! I’m done with it, because this is true.” Then he added, “I have to say, and it is true, it’s not fake. We’ve been on the road with these guys for so long, and that was so gracious and so generous of them. My love to ‘La La Land,’ my love to everybody.


Trump, meanwhile, is still braying about his November triumph, exaggerating the extent of his electoral college win, denigrating his defeated rival and whining about “fake news.” Compare that to the maturity shown by those who had victory and an Oscar torn from their grasp.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.