On Sunday, we witnessed an incredible mistake being made whilst the winner of the best feature film was announced. “La La Land” was announced as best feature, however only a few moments after Damien Chazelle gave his acceptance speech, it came to his attention that the announcement was wrong, and the award was actually given to Moonlight.
This may have been a simple and innocent mistake, however it raised a media outrage but also became the subject of many political memes.
With the history of #OscarsSoWhite, many wondered if this was in fact an innocent mistake. After witnessing Adele winning album of the year when even she herself admitted that it should have gone to Beyoncé, many people of colour seem to have lost hope in brown talent being recognised and awarded. Many were hoping for Moonlight to win best picture, a movie that features an all black cast and tells a story of a black gay man, which is a rare and almost non-existent subject in mainstream film industry. Compared to La La Land which can only be described as every movie created by Hollywood since the 40’s.
It seemed almost impossible for Moonlight to be recognised because black and brown talent and stories are so rarely recognised, and this recognition seems so impossible that it may have caused the wrong announcement to be made.
Something that came to my attention was the treatment of the cast when the mistake was proven. The way they were called on stage was not respectful enough, they were not given the same respectful treatment that they deserved. Seeing a full white cast being replaced by (majority) black cast on the stage was something to remember.
But a film such as moonlight being awarded as best feature gives hope to a new generation of filmmakers of colour by making Barry Jenkins only the fourth black director to win an Oscar. This success tells young film-makers of colour that there is hope of being recognised , it might take twice as much longer for them compared to white film makers, but it gives us hope. Other Oscar winning films included Fences and Hidden Figures which are also centred around black stories featuring a black cast. It seems like the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has made an impact.
Another issue that should not go unrecognised, is the boycott of the awards by Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian film director who since Tuesday is a two time Oscar Winner for the best foreign language feature, this time for his film The Salesman. His absence needed to be widely recognised by both the Academy and the media, proving that demonising muslim countries is an act against arts and culture.
This year was the first year a Muslim Actor Mahershala Ali took home the Oscars, for his role Juan in Moonlight.
Words by Katy Jalili.