Moonlight won Best Picture last year, though not without some shock, uproar, and confusion. It was such a huge pop culture moment that you’re probably more than familiar with how it all went down: While Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were presenting the award, they mistakenly said that La La Land was the winner. Ultimately, La La Land’s producer, Jordan Horowitz, set the record straight and revealed that Moonlight was actually taking home the Oscar.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most memorable moments in the 90-year history of the awards ceremony. Unfortunately, the debacle denied everyone who worked on Moonlight the chance to fully relish the accolade, including director Barry Jenkins. But as a keynote speaker at this year’s South by Southwest, Jenkins shared personal stories of his upbringing and the infamous moment he didn’t get at the 2017 Oscars. Interestingly enough, Jenkins premiered his first feature film, Medicine for Melancholy, at SXSW a decade ago. Returning to the SXSW stage presented him with the perfect opportunity to share what he would have said if he’d gotten his big Oscar moment.
According to Deadline, Jenkins started off by diving into his story of becoming an acclaimed director. From his experience of growing up with a mother struggling with addiction to his early and undying love for Die Hard, Jenkins highlighted all of the factors that contributed to his career as a filmmaker, Deadline reports. He even referred to SXSW as “the birth of Barry Jenkins the filmmaker.” Without revealing that it was his Oscars acceptance speech, Jenkins gave credit to Tarell McCraney, whose play formed the foundation of Moonlight. Jenkins continued:
“Tarell 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 — certainly don’t think he would grow up to win Best Picture. 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, realising dreams you never allowed yourself to have.”
And we think that’s important to celebrate — even if it is a year later.
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