Why MOONLIGHT Deserved “Best Picture” over LA LA LAND
The 2017 Academy Awards are over, and now we can go back to the mediocrity of cinema that March is surely going to produce (Kong, The Power Rangers Movie). However, this year’s Oscars had one of the biggest “upsets,” or mess-ups in Oscar history. The once Oscar darling, and lock for “Best Picture,” La La Land, won the prestigious prize. That is, of course, until it didn’t.
In a strange turn of events, presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty said the wrong film for best picture. Half way through the producers of La La Lands acceptance speech, Fred Berger was in the middle of thanking his family. That’s when reality hit and Berger said, “We lost, by the way — but, you know.” Then announced the winner of the prestigious prize was Moonlight. The crowd stood in silence, thinking it was some odd joke, but it wasn’t. “This is not a joke,” Platt said. “I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.”
Let’s just say the cast and crew of La La Land were speechless.
Director Barry Jenkins and his cast were in tears, and rightfully so. They just got the ultimate surprise, a surprise that is not only deserving but earned.
“The last 20 minutes of my life have been insane,” Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight,” told reporters backstage after the awards. “I don’t think my life could be changed any more dramatically than the last 20 or 30 minutes.”
I’m more than happy this happened because Moonlight without question deserved to win “Best Picture.” Now, I have reviewed and watched both La La Land and Moonlight numerous times, and while La La was my personal favorite of 2016, Moonlight is the best overall film of 2016.
“I don’t think my life could be changed any more dramatically than the last 20 or 30 minutes.”- Barry Jenkins
The story of a young, gay, African-American male living in a tough neighborhood in Miami is a tough project to take on, let alone have critical and audience praise to boot. While La La Land is expertly directed, beautifully shot and ultimately an excellent film, it doesn’t have the gravitas that Moonlight has.
A film that can capture audiences by its characters first and foremost is a remarkable achievement in itself. That’s not to say that Damien Chazelle’s highly praised musical didn’t have great character moments, it was just more of a conventional musical when you get down to it. Sure, the coloring, editing, and overall old Hollywood tone had my heart singing long after the credits rolled.
In retrospect, the character moments and subtlety Moonlight has throughout the movie’s runtime is incredible. You’ll always remember Kevin and Chiron’s look as he is being taken away at school, and you will always remember when they lock eyes again ten years later. It’s moving, powerful, and authentic filmmaking that should never go unnoticed.
Fans will always have something to say, that’s the downfall of cinema, along with the wonderful world of social media at society’s fingertips. However, from my point of view, this was no Oscar “upset”. The best picture of the year won the award it deserved, and my god what a film that is.