Of course the safe option in the Oscars got the most awards. That La La Land was a shoe-in for several Academy Award nominations and wins was consistently repeated in the weeks leading up to the Oscars. But, surprisingly, it got “snubbed” for Best Picture—the most important award of the night. Yes, it was corrected that Best Picture was supposed to go to Moonlight, which had also received Best Supporting Actor and Best Adaptation to Film. Quite a turn from the typical Oscars Best Picture nominees, Moonlight is an independent film about a gay black boy growing up in Miami. It shows his life at three different points in his life: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
Although Moonlight won for Best Motion Picture, this was not before most of the time was wasted to giving the losing party some time for their acceptance speech before turning over what little time was left to the true winners of the night. And they too had to be cut short due to lack of time. Finally, we see a picture about black gay love getting the recognition it deserves over the safe Hollywood drivel that wins year after year, and they don’t even get to give their speech properly. It’s also been pointed out for the last few award shows Mahershala Ali discussed the Muslim Ban during his acceptance speeches. This show, however, did not see his political motivations coming out. Big question as to why, but the different contexts do provide some clues.
I will admit to you that this comes with a near complete outsider’s perspective, as I have seen neither La La Land nor Moonlight. But let me tell you this, one of them interests the hell out of me much more that the other (it’s Moonlight, don’t get me wrong). And from what I know of both, Moonlight needs and deserves more eyes watching it. Now, this is surprising for an academy award, known for adulating those pictures celebrating the “Hollywood” experience and staying as safe as it can be with its choices. Putting a film directed, starring, and supported by black men and women, with content about the POC gay experience center stage is somewhat stunning to see. However, even with this success there is unease and confusion. The choice of the award had to of course be corrected behind those giving thanks for their “success,” as we see the grimace of embarrassment and tugged collars. Once the next person came to the mic he began giving thanks, but of course ended with that it didn’t matter as he didn’t win the award anyway. The correction was questioned for its sincerity when the presenters asked for those associated with Moonlight to come to the stage. They reinforced their sincerity by showing the cue card to the camera. Only then did the applause pick up to much needed levels. So even when this success is to be celebrated, it still needs some prodding. Even when stories about black gay characters and experiences are given space, they are not given the respect they deserve. Even with successes like these, I am reminded how far we have yet to go.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go see when I can see winner of the Academy Awards Best Picture: Moonlight.
As always, that Bitch,