Barry Jenkins Finally Gives His Best Picture Winning Speech; Damien Chazelle Revamps His Image

Playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney with Director, Barry Jenkins

First, we celebrate. We celebrate two incredibly brave men, their gorgeous, moving story, the beautiful film that is Moonlight, and its Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney) wins at this year’s wackadoodie Oscars ceremony. Because of the Price Waterhouse Coopers envelope mixup, we really didn’t get to hear a true winner’s speech from Barry Jenkins, but via Vulture, we can at least read what Jenkins had prepared:

Tarell Alvin McCraney and I are this kid. We are Chiron. And you don’t think that kid grows up to be nominated for eight Academy Awards. It’s not a dream he’s allowed to have. I still feel that way. I didn’t think this was possible. But now I look at other people looking at me and if I didn’t think it was possible, how are they going to? But now it’s happened. So what I think of possibility, let’s take it off the table. The thing has happened.”

In case you haven’t read the background story of Moonlight, the film was adapted from McCraney’s play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, while trying to cope with feelings about his mother, who had recently passed. Before they got together to write and shoot Moonlight, Jenkins and McCraney had never met, though they both grew up in the same Liberty City, Miami neighborhood, and shared the experiences of being raised by mothers who struggled with addiction. After reading McCraney’s screenplay, through a series of “loopy” emails, Jenkins convinced the playwright to work on a script with him, and the result is a gorgeous, moving and ultimately uplifting movie we have all been privileged to see. If for any reason you haven’t caught Moonlight, I cannot implore you more to see it as soon as you possibly can.

Meanwhile, for those of us who watched the incredulous reactions to the Best Picture snafu, we were all impressed with La La Land producer, Jordan Horowitz, who was just as gracious as he could be in such a situation. Quickly calling up the Moonlight crowd and alerting them to the error, assuring that “This is not a joke” and holding up the correct winner’s card,

Horowitz handed over the mic as soon as humanly possible (once Kimmel quit trying to joke the whole mess away). As the chaos continued one viewer caught the look on one face that some of us won’t soon forget, that of director, Damien Chazelle.

Whoops! Of course, I don’t personally know Chazelle, so that could just be his “Like, whoa!” face, and in any case he’s on the road to repair, anxious to leave us with a different image:  that of fellow winner and loving supporter of other directors. Ta-da!


Yes, Variety rounded up the two gentlemen and gave Chazelle a chance to fix his face and toss a friendly arm around Jenkins. Each with his own Oscar in hand, and a little dish of ice cream (I presume) later … they’re just two working dudes who happened to bump into each other. Or, are they?

In fact, it was Chazelle’s camp that suggested to us in the eleventh hour that their client be joined by “Moonlight” writer/director Barry Jenkins, given the wild turn of events when “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as best picture. We jumped at the chance to have these two young, extraordinary filmmakers sit down for an exclusive interview with awards editor Kristopher Tapley. Chazelle and Jenkins hadn’t spoken until they traded stories Monday morning and posed for pictures in the courtyard of El Cabrillo …”

All’s well that ends well, eh?

Regardless, congratulations to Jenkins and McCraney and Mahershala Ali — the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar (suck it, 45) — and Chazelle. It’s good to be golden.

(photos via Variety)

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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