History made as Moonlight wins best picture amidst astonishing Oscar bungle


Barry Jenkins, Moonlight’s director

Moonlight has become the first LGBTQ film to win best picture at the Oscars, despite the wrong film being announced as the winner.

The bungle happened at the end of the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly read out that the musical La La Land had won the film world’s most coveted honour.

As the jubilant filmmakers were accepting the award on stage, the astonished audience was told that Beatty had been given the wrong envelope.

The stunned cast and crew of Moonlight then came onto the stage to receive the award as La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz confirmed that Moonlight had in fact won by holding up the correct card.

“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, oh my goodness,” said Barry Jenkins, Moonlight director and writer, when he went up on stage.

“I will say that the folks from La La Land were so gracious,” Jenkins later said about the mistake in announcing the winner. “I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that.”

He added: “It’s unfortunate that things happened the way they did, but hot damn, we won best picture!”

Despite the chaos, Moonlight’s success will go down in history; not only because it is a remarkable film, but also because of its insightful depiction of the life of a black gay man who grows up in the projects in Miami.

Moonlight earlier also won for best adapted screenplay (Barry Jenkins and Alvin McCraney) and for best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali (he reportedly became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar).

McCraney, an openly gay writer, said in his acceptance speech: “This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non gender conforming who don’t see themselves. We’re trying to show you you and us, so thank you thank you this is for you.”

According to GLAAD, the media advocacy group, Moonlight is the first LGBTQ film to win best picture. “Congratulations to Moonlight on its well-deserved win for Best Picture,” tweeted GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

“Film is our largest cultural export and must represent the full diversity of the people who make up this country. This sends a strong message to the film industry that it needs to embrace inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”

Moonlight is now in cinemas in South Africa. Read our review here.

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