Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Oscars Mix-Up: "You Stop Breathing"

The Academy president participated in a keynote conversation Thursday at FMX.
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Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs reflected on this year's Oscar envelope mix-up — La La Land, rather than winner Moonlight, was initially announced as the year's best picture — during a keynote conversation Thursday at VFX confab FMX in Stuttgart, Germany.

"The show was fantastic . ... [Then] you stop breathing, and it was an incident, that is for sure," she said. "But my take-away was, here are filmmakers from two movies — and I got to know a number of them as they were very much in the awards-season zone — and  seeing these filmmakers that represent something new and something fresh, and seeing them onstage at the same time, I thought that was pretty amazing.

"The graciousness of the filmmakers represented something that was magical and wonderful," she continued, adding, "It was unfortunate — you want it to be perfect. But it was resolved before the show was over."

During the conversation, Boone Isaacs also discussed the Academy's effort to expand the diversity of its membership and leadership. "It has changed," she said. "There have been major productions that have stepped forward and put a line in the sand — Ryan Murphy or Bad Robot or Plan B ... now the conversation is open. We've noticed a change. For some, it's not fast enough, but that’s OK."

Boone Isaacs is in the final months of her time as Academy president. She reflected that controversies are "the part I won't miss so much" and touted the Academy Museum that is under construction. "I've been president the last four years, but the museum has been going on for a while with a few of my predecessors and it will go on," she said. "It gives the AMPAS more than its one night out. We are able to share with the public all of our jewels. Now we get to have our big day out, every day of the week."

During the Q&A, Boone Isaacs was asked about the Academy's interest in virtual reality. “It’s certainly now and certainly the future. At this moment, our bylaws are about theatrical exhibition,” she responded, adding though that emerging technology is impacting the business. “It’s certainly a question being discussed at the Academy.”

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