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In the Craziest Moment in Oscars History, ‘Moonlight’ Won Best Picture After ‘La La Land’ Mess-Up

Moonlight
A24

In what is no doubt the most insane moment in Oscars history, Moonlight won Best Picture only after it was wrongly announced that La La Land was the winner.

Presenter Warren Beatty opened the enveloped and after taking a long pause, showed it to Faye Dunaway who read the winner as La La Land. Right in the middle of the La La Land cast and crew’s acceptance speech, host Jimmy Kimmel came on stage to announce that Beatty had revealed the wrong winner. (He explained that his envelope had Emma Stone’s Best Actress win inscribed on it, and not the Best Picture winner, but that’s a larger mystery to be investigated at a later date.) The Moonlight cast and crew, overwhelmed with tears, finally came on stage to accept their win.

Barry Jenkins’ beautiful triptych, which was made for a mere $1.5 million, is not the type of story we’re used to seeing on the big screen. The film follows a young black boy named Chiron over three chapters in his life, played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Saunders, and Trevante Rhodes, as he grapples with notions of masculinity, queer sexuality, and what it means to grow up black in America.

It was groundbreaking that the film, adapted from a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, even made it this far in awards season – you don’t often seen small budget indies, much less ones that don’t feature a single white actor, nominated for eight Academy Awards. The film’s win also signals a potential sign of hope for the future of the Oscars. Following two back-to-back years of #OscarsSoWhite, this year’s awards made history. It was the first year that every acting category featured a black actor, the first year to include three black actors in one category (winner Viola Davis and nominees Octavia Spencer and Naomi Harris for Best Supporting Actress), and the first year to nominate a total of six black performers.

While handing out awards isn’t necessarily a means of making political statements – Moonlight didn’t win for its diverse cast and story alone; it’s an exceptional film through and through – naming Jenkins’ film the best of 2016 is something that could make a huge difference in the industry. Smaller budget projects, films that boldly tell stories about marginalized communities and do so with diverse casts and crews may have a better shot at the Oscars, which means those films will get seen by and reach more people. The most exciting thing about Moonlight‘s big win tonight? Now even more audiences are going to experience Chiron’s story.

See the full list of 2017 Oscars winners here.

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