Monday, February 27, 2017

How "Moonlight" Won The Oscars In More Than One Way


As we know, Moonlight not only emerged victorious on Oscar night, winning Best Picture, but overcame a major snafu involving presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway reading from the wrong envelope. In a shocking upset, Moonlight was revealed as the Best Picture winner from the right envelope. While everyone is wrting thinkpieces and commenting on the newly infamous mixup, I want to take this opportunity to talk about what Moonlight winning Best Picture represents because to me, that is much more important.

First off, Moonlight is the first LGBT film in Academy history to ever win Best Picture. After the infamous loss of Brokeback Mountain, the snubbing of Carol, and the losses of other LGBT films that have been nominated for Best Picture, queer cinema has finally been given its due. Also, it is a film that depicts the African American experience that isn't about racial oppression and doesn't fall victim to the "white savior" narrative thanks to its all-black cast. Typically, when films about the African-American experience get cited for Best Picture, they are often films about racism and oppression like 12 Years A Slave, The Help, and Selma. So for a film like Moonlight to win is a more progressive change of pace.

Lastly, the film is budgeted at about $1.5 million, making it one of the lowest budgeted Best Picture winners ever. It goes to show that if a filmmaker has enough creativity and can get a good amount of funding, they can make it all the way to not only compete with heavyweighted films in the Best Picture race but triumph over them as well. Especially a movie like La La Land which is a mainstream love letter to Hollywood, starring two reliably charismatic movie stars. Given how Hollywood loves to honor itself, that makes this film's win over it even more awe-inspiring. Hopefully, Moonlight's win shall inspire more incoming filmmakers to dream bigger as they thinking smaller in terms of scale.

So that is why I think it is more important to talk about what Moonlight winning means rather than the circumstances of how was announced as the winner. Finally, I want to say that as much as I admired the charm of La La Land, I am glad that the Academy gave Best Picture to the actual Best Picture of 2016.