Moonlight Wins Best Picture in the Weirdest Way Possible

ABC/Eddy Chen
Everyone knew this year's best-picture contest at the Oscars came down to two diametrically opposed choices: Moonlight, a coming-of-age tale of a young, gay black man in Miami created by Liberty City natives Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins, and La La Land, a big-budget Hollywood musical about how awesome Hollywood is.

So when Faye Dunaway announced that La La Land had taken the prize, viewers around Miami clicked off their TV sets in disgust. They missed one of the weirdest moments in Oscar history — and a surprise crowning of Jenkins and McCraney's masterpiece as best picture.

Here's how the insanity played out:
Even this morning, it's not totally clear what happened, but the working theory is that Warren Beatty and Dunaway were accidentally handed a duplicate of the envelope for Best Actress, which went to La La Land's Emma Stone. Zoomed-in shots on the envelope held by Beatty seem to show Stone's name rather than La La Land as Best Picture.

Let's hope the bizarre setup doesn't end up overshadowing an incredible achievement for two kids from the Liberty City projects.  Everyone in Miami knew Moonlight was an incredibly moving piece of art — seeing it recognized as the best picture in America is the crowning achievement of a homegrown film industry.

And it wasn't Jenkins and McCraney's only big win: The pair also took home an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and gave an amazing speech about what the win means for minority voices in the era of Donald Trump.

"The ACLU has your back. We have your back. And for the next four years, we will not leave you alone. We will not forget you,” Jenkins said.

Mahershala Ali also won best supporting actor for his role as Juan in Moonlight.

Once Miami figured out that Moonlight had in fact won best picture, the accolades flowed in.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink