Moonlight Wins Best Picture Amid Confusion

Alex Castillo , Copy Editor

This year’s Academy Awards held on Feb. 26 is a ceremony where outstanding films are honored and appreciated by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This year, films like Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, Moonlight, La La Land, and Hell or High Water were nominated for multiple awards.


La La Land was a fan favorite this year, pulling in a whopping fourteen nominations and therefore tying with movies like All About Eve and Titanic for most nominations. After winning six Academy Awards and sweeping a seventh in the form of Best Picture, it was no surprise to the anyone to see the most coveted award of the night being given to Damien Chazelle’s musical; except for the Academy. During a speech from the La La Land producers, Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty ran up to break the news. Moonlight was supposed to win Best Picture, not La La Land. This interruption was a complete shock for everyone, including Brayden Hayes, 12.


“I saw both of them and I was fine with either of them winning,” Hayes said. “They were both really good but I was just super surprised to see that happen. The Oscars are supposed to be super professional but this is just a huge mistake that was internationally televised. I would’ve been really embarrassed if that was me giving up my Oscar.”


The confusion came as a result of the multiple copies of each envelope. In case an envelope is lost or damaged, PricewaterhouseCooper, the firm that manages the Academy Awards, keeps multiple copies of each envelope. This explains Emma Stone’s statement on Twitter after the show where she mentioned that she was able to keep her Best Actress envelope and proceeded to upload a photo of it. When Warren Beatty stood at the podium to announce Best Picture, he was mistakenly given a copy of the envelope for Best Actress. The Best Actress award was called directly before Best Picture, allowing for the possibility of the wrong envelope having been handed out. Warren Beatty himself was skeptical of the envelope as it read “Emma Stone, La La Land” and instead of explaining the mistake, the card was read out sans Emma Stone’s name. When the correct card had been found and read, the La La Land cast had already found their way to the stage and were making their speeches. Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty were then forced to interrupt the speeches to make the announcement that the real winner was Moonlight.


Alan Ramirez, 12, watched and loved both Moonlight and La La Land but was shocked to see the huge mistake on TV.


“That just sucks man,” Ramirez said. “They did all the work to get to the Oscars and then they get the trophy taken away. I’m still glad that Moonlight got it but it must be really hard to be a part of La La Land right now. You just think that they would be more careful with what they read on the envelope.”


In addition to Best Picture, Moonlight left the Dolby Theater with an award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Moonlight follows the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of Chiron, a black man struggling with the societal interpretation of his sexuality in his community. Growing up in a rougher part of Miami with a mother addicted to drugs, Chiron faces bullying from his peers and from his own mother as a result of his sexuality.


For John Guido, 12, the win for Best Picture means something to the LGBTQ+ scene along with the black community.


“It’s hard to ignore the cries of underrepresentation from these groups,” Guido said. “They totally have a reason to make complaints. Minorities and members of the LGBTQ community are hard to find in movies and to see a movie about the what they face is something important for everyone to see. It kind of proves that there’s more talent out there that the big movie people aren’t looking for.”


Despite the awkward mix-up that cost La La Land the award for Best Picture, many are still content with Moonlight winning the award. At the end of the night, La La Land went home with six Oscars and Moonlight left with three. Other popular movies like Hacksaw Ridge ended the night with two Academy Awards and Arrival called it a night with an Oscar for Sound Editing.