Montreal sound editor Sylvain Bellemare on his Oscar win and the best-picture mess

Montreal's Sylvain Bellemare on his Oscar win

TORONTO — Montreal sound editor Sylvain Bellemare has an epic memory to accompany his Oscar win for “Arrival.” 

The Canadian was still in the Dolby Theatre on Sunday night as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway wrongly announced “La La Land” as best picture. Bellemare said it was “all very embarrassing” as producers scrambled on stage to reveal that “Moonlight” was the true winner.

“It was astonishing for like 15, 20 seconds. I think we thought it was a joke and no, it was real,” Bellemare said by phone from Los Angeles after the show had ended.

“But yet people were really happy I think because ‘Moonlight’ is a fantastic film that deserves so much,” he added. 

“‘La La Land’ is a great film, too, but it already has a lot of love and box office since it started and having ‘Moonlight’ triumph, it’s perfect.”

The accounting firm PwC, which oversees the counting of the Oscar ballots, said early Monday that Beatty and Dunaway had been given the wrong envelope.

Bellemare said “at the end, things went as they were supposed to be.

“It was a weird feeling…. It was something awkward but those things happen and at the end, at least we got the real winner onstage.”

Bellemare won the Oscar for best sound editor in a field that also included teams from “Deepwater Horizon,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “La La Land” and “Sully.” 

“I had a good handshake by Ryan Gosling when I went to the stage,” he said, adding that his thoughts were with “Arrival” director Denis Villeneuve and everyone else who worked on the film.

“There are so many people behind this prize. It’s a collective prize and I was so proud for them and for us.”

“Arrival” stars Amy Adams as a linguistics expert who tries to communicate with aliens that have landed in 12 pods on Earth.

Jeremy Renner plays theoretical physicist Ian in the Quebec-shot film, which also stars Forest Whitaker as a military leader.

Earlier this month, Bellemare â€” along with Oscar-nominated “Arrival” sound mixers Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye — won a trophy from the British Academy Film Awards.

Bellemare’s previous credits include Villeneuve’s 2010 drama “Incendies,” which was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

The 49-year-old’s other films include “It’s Not Me, I Swear!” and “Monsieur Lazhar” by Quebec director Philippe Falardeau.

He was the lone Oscar winner for “Arrival,” which had eight nominations going into the show, including best director and best picture.

“People are not here for having prizes,” said Bellemare. “We’re here for the love of movies, but to be the only one is a bit weird, especially because if the sound is good it’s because there’s a lot of people.

“So I wish there could be more but at the end we all win. We’re all here for a love of film and not for competition.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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