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Moonlight and the Oscars Blunder

“Moonlight,” created by director Barry Jenkins, was never meant to be the hugely successful movie that it is today. In fact, Jenkins told The Los Angeles Times, “We didn’t make the movie with any expectations.” It took only $1.5 million to make, but already has grossed $25.4 million at the box office.

Maybe even more important is the fact that Moonlight has made history as a coming-of-age LGBT film with an all-black cast. It garnered positive reviews, brought huge audiences to theatres, and won some of the highest awards that a movie could receive.

Recently, Moonlight has proved its worth in the world of awards. It has won a Golden Globe, and at the Oscars, Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win Best Supporting Actor, and Jenkins became the first black person nominated for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture. On top of that, it has been acclaimed by many critics, ranging from the renowned to the average Joe.


And yet, despite all of this, the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when “Moonlight” is brought up, is the mix-up at the 89th Academy Awards.

During the show, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty presented the nominees for best picture, and Dunaway announced that the winner was “La La Land.” What happened next sparked a stream of conversation that spanned websites like Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter, and became the headline on the front of every newspaper and online news site.

The producers got the news and Horowitz announced to the audience that there had been a mistake, and Moonlight had actually won best picture. He snatched the paper and showed it to the camera in the now-iconic moment, which was followed by a variety of hilarious reactions from people as they realized the mistake that had been made.

The incident has been dubbed as “an unprecedented moment in Oscars history” by CNN, a “Oscars 2017 Best Picture Mistake” by New York Times, and a “picture envelope mistake” by The Guardian, among others. In fact, when you type ‘Oscars’ into Google, the second suggested search is ‘Oscars 2017 mistake’.

This historic blunder took over social media as soon as it occurred, and although the hype will die down soon, it will take much more time for people to forget the moment that moved the spotlight from a historic movie to how it became wrapped up in the sensationalism of an honest mistake.


Despite this blunder, and the pop culture hailstorm that followed, “Moonlight” will continue to prevail as a movie that kicked down doors and broke boundaries for both minorities and the LGBT community, and especially for those who fit into both categories.

“Moonlight” will continue to represent a great time in which such a movie can be awarded for its ingenuity, authenticity, and groundbreaking subject matter. No matter how much effort is put into attempting to change the storyline to one of ‘mistakes’ and ‘blunders’, “Moonlight” will always be a movie that shines as an inspiration for so many who have felt overlooked and unacknowledged.



I love films, social media, and social justice. I mostly write commentary on current pop culture, social justice issues, and social media.
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