ByAlexandra Ekstein-Kon, writer at
Editor at MP. Twin Peaks, Mr. Robot, a bit of this, a bit of that. Tweet me at @alexa_ekon
Alexandra Ekstein-Kon

The 2017 ceremony was a near-perfect spectacle. The dresses and tuxes were out in all their dazzling colors, Jimmy Kimmel made amends with Matt Damon (sort of), and awards went into the grasping hands each deserving winner. However, there was one snafu that is getting a lot of attention, eclipsing just about everything else that happened on the red carpet or in the Dolby Theatre. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly proclaimed La La Land the Best Picture winner — whereupon the entire team trouped on stage and gave their throaty, teary-eyed speeches — only to discover 2 minutes into it that Moonlight had in fact won the award, and everything was utterly awks for all. Luckily, everyone handled it as professionally as possible, and the Moonlight team were still able to give their heartfelt speeches — although it was hard for everyone to recover enough to give them the attention they so dearly deserved.

After the show, the press caught up backstage with Mahershala Ali (who won the Best Supporting Actor award for Moonlight) and Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney (who won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay) to discuss their respective wins, and their opinions on the fiasco that had just gone down on stage.

Mahershala Ali as Juan in 'Moonlight' [Credit: A24]
Mahershala Ali as Juan in 'Moonlight' [Credit: A24]

Mahershala Ali hit the nail on the head with his eloquent description of La La Land's success, and said he wasn't surprised to hear their name called:

“'La La Land' has resonated with so many people, especially in this time when people need a sense of buoyancy in their life, and a sense of hope and light, that film has really impacted people in a very different way than 'Moonlight.' When their name was read I wasn’t surprised, I was really happy for them. It’s a group of extraordinary people in front of and behind the camera."

He went on to vocalize the feeling everyone got the moment the error was discovered:

"When I did see security or people coming on stage, and their moment was being disrupted in some way, I got really worried. When Jordan H said ''Moonlight,' you guys have won,' it threw me a bit — it threw me more than a bit. I don’t want to go up there and take anything from somebody. It’s very hard to feel joy in a moment like that, because somebody else just in front of them, but I feel very fortunate to have walked away with the Best Picture award. It’s pretty remarkable.“

I can only imagine the unnecessary guilt you'd feel at having to take the award out of your worthy opponent's hands because of an unfortunate organizational blunder. It's sad to think that such a great moment would come with any other feelings than unbridled joy.

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Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney also shared his thoughts on the Best Picture fiasco, diplomatically saying it made everything feel "even more special":

“I think all the movies that were nominated were [great] so I applauded with everyone else. I noticed the commotion that was happening and I thought something strange had occurred — and then I’m sure everybody saw my face. But I was speechless with the result. I’ve watched the Academy Awards, and I’d never seen that happen before. It made a very special feeling even more special, but not in the way I expected.”

We can only imagine! Way to be graceful AF, McCraney. After addressing the disaster though, he was able to just express a little of his joy at having won Best Picture:

“The last 20 minutes of my life have been insane. I don’t think my life could be changed more dramatically than what happened in the last 20, 30 minutes… beyond life-changing.”

'Moonlight' [Credit: A24]
'Moonlight' [Credit: A24]

McCraney also graciously splashed some compliments in La La Land's direction:

“The folks from 'La La Land' were so gracious. I couldn’t imagine being in their position and having to do that. … It was so gracious of them to do that. … I love LA. … I could see my apartment in the opening shot of that film and I was nostalgic."

Moonlight's triumph over La La Land is a testament to just what an incredible film it is. With masterfully subtle storytelling, beautiful cinematography and soundtrack, and gripping characters, the team deserves every inch of that award and more. La La Land definitely wasn't lacking in Oscars attention either, taking home 5 Academy Awards, so it seems like everyone came, saw, conquered, and hopefully danced the night away afterward.

What do you think of the Oscars Best Picture disaster?


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