Was anyone else up at 5am watching the Oscars on Sunday night?
And if you were...did you all see what I saw? Or was I hallucinating from tiredness? Did we all see Moonlight not only win Best Picture, but snatch it literally from La La Land’s hands at the last second?
I was all ready to complain. I watched La La Land, and sure, it was fine; but I think today and in this political climate, it is simply the wrong time for it to sweep the Oscars. I thought it would, though. I had a whole bit prepared about how La La Land’s win would be indicative of Hollywood’s unrepentant self-obsession, that all you need to do to impress Hollywood is to love Hollywood, that Hollywood is just once and for all in love with itself. All that is still true, of course, and while La La Land is good enough, it is simply not as good as Moonlight. However, I didn’t think that that would be fairly represented at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday night, especially after a seeming snowball of wins for La La Land.
I was wrong. I was so beautifully wrong. Initially I thought I wasn’t, and I tweeted as such. The Academy Award for Best Picture goes to La La Land, they actually said. They read it out, surprising no one, and everyone got onstage to say their thanks and to spout a bit of inoffensive drivel about how you know, dreams can come true as long as you’re white and reasonably good looking and affluent. But then.
They made a mistake. They made a great, big, giant mistake at the Oscars, of all places. It turns out that the presenter read Emma Stone’s card for Best Actress by accident, and that actually, Moonlight had won. Moonlight had won best picture. Not La La Land. Sorry lads, get off the stage. It’s time for a real damn speech.
And they delivered. They accepted their award graciously and gave a stunning speech, with lines like, 'I hope even more than that it's inspiring to people, little black boys and brown girls and other folks watching at home who feel marginalised and who take some inspiration from seeing this beautiful group of artists held by this amazing talent, Barry Jenkins, accepting this top honor.' We gasped, we cried, we stood up and clapped at home.
Look, La La Land is okay, it’s fine; but it’s not particularly important right now. It doesn’t feel nearly as urgent or necessary as Moonlight, at a time when we need stories that make marginalised people feel less alone and feel seen. We need them to feel uplifted, and Moonlight’s shock win will hopefully do just that. It’s perhaps even indicative of a brighter, less white, less stuffy future for Hollywood and the Academy - but we’ll see.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.