I’ve been meaning to jot down my post-Oscars thoughts, but time has gotten the better of me, per usual. The only word that comes to mind when thinking about the last few minutes of the Oscars is pure joy.
I hoped that Moonlight, the best film of the year, would win Best Picture, but I didn’t hold my breath. Everything was playing out according to plan (and as predicted in my Oscar pool ballot). I was ecstatic to see Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali collect statues, for Supporting Actress and Actor respectively, after two years of all white nominees in the four acting categories. Then Casey Affleck was announced as the Best Actor winner instead of Denzel Washington, who gave a phenomenal performance in Fences, and I was brought back to Earth.
Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins, along with Tarell Alvin McCraney, came on stage to accept the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, followed shortly afterward by Damien Chazelle, collecting his award for Best Director for La La Land. I knew how the Best Picture award was going to play out. And I was right, or so it seemed.
The La La Land team trouped on stage to accept their award and I almost changed the channel. Then, after literally thanking his blue-eyed wife, one of the producers announced that Moonlight had in fact won Best Picture. It almost seemed miraculous. And I felt pure unadulterated joy at the fact that, for once, the best piece of art won. We won.
Re-visiting Barry Jenkins’ planned acceptance speech, as published in The Hollywood Reporter, I was reminded of the importance of allowing yourself to dream. Hope always beats despair.
“Tarell [Alvin McCraney] and I are Chiron. We are that boy. And when you watch Moonlight, you don’t assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award. I’ve said that a lot, and what I’ve had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. Not you, not anyone else — me. And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and, somehow through the Academy’s grace, realizing dreams you never allowed yourself to have. Much love.”