Analysis: A Hollywood Ending for 'Moonlight' - NBC New York

Analysis: A Hollywood Ending for 'Moonlight'

Even though everything seemed to go wrong in the final minutes of the Academy Awards, the right film won.



    'This Is Not a Joke': Watch the Botched Best Picture Reveal

    Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight" — not, as it turned out, "La La Land" — won best picture at the Academy Awards in a historic Oscar upset and an unprecedented fiasco that saw one winner swapped for another while the "La La Land" producers were in mid-speech. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017)

    “Moonlight,” the story of a young man searching for himself amid a hardscrabble upbringing in Miami, and “La La Land,” an old-school throwback musical about star-crossed lovers seeking fame in Los Angeles, sport little in common, save for bittersweet conclusions.

    But shortly after midnight Monday, “Moonlight” scored a Hollywood ending – marking an awards show version of “Cinderella” where, amid unprecedented Oscars confusion, the right envelope finally fit the right movie.

    All the questions that could answer how Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway ended up initially announcing “La La Land” as the Best Picture winner remained far from clear. Ballot tabulators PwC took responsibility for the error, saying that the presenters had been given the wrong category envelope by mistake. 

    One thing is certain: “Moonlight” is a worthy victor in a year brimming with strong films.

    WATCH: 'Moonlight,' Affleck, Stone Take Top Oscars

    [NATL] WATCH: 'Moonlight,' Affleck, Stone Take Top Oscars

    All the stars came out Sunday night for the 89th Academy Awards. Watch a round up of all the top Oscar winners.

    (Published Monday, Feb. 27, 2017)

    “La La Land,” which notched a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations, is a fine movie that could have ended up going down in fandom annals as another good flick that unfairly became enshrined in greatness by a Hollywood establishment that too often over-rewards films about the entertainment industry.

    There’s nothing glamorous about director Barry Jenkins’ brilliantly wrought and acted “Moonlight,” which traces, in three parts, the tale of Chiron, aka “Little.”

    The character is introduced as a bullied, latchkey kid who is being raised by his crack-addicted mother (Oscar nominee Naomie Harris) and is befriended by her dealer (Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, who plays Juan with more nuance than menace). In the second part, Chiron is a high schooler dealing with his sexuality and worsening destabilization at home. In the third part, he’s a young man, hardened by prison and life as a drug dealer, but still sensitive and haunted by a past and a love he’s struggling to come to grips with.

    The low-budget critical hit stood out in a year filled, as previously noted, with other searing dramas (“Fences” and “Manchester by the Sea”), true-life uplifting fare ("Hidden Figures" and "Lion") and intriguing sci-fi (“Arrival”).

    There’s no need to feel sorry for “La La Land,” which took home six Oscars and whose team proved the epitome of grace amid the muddle on the Dolby Theatre stage in the ABC broadcast’s final moments. “Moonlight” scored three statuettes, including the one that counts most and could spur a deserved box office boost.

    The two movies will now be linked forever in cinematic history, both winners in their own way, but with “Moonlight” outshining a lighter film that celebrated the “City of Stars.” Movie fans can only hope that the inevitable controversy and conspiracy theories bound to swell won’t overshadow the dramatic triumph of “Moonlight.”

    Oscar Accountants Talk Mistake Protocols Before Show

    [NATL] Oscar Accountants Talk Mistake Protocols Before Show

    Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz are the two accountants from PwC who controlled the envelopes at the 89th Academy Awards. Before the big event, they talked about their job, which Ruiz called a "big responsibility." She added that they even memorize the winners so they can make sure the right names are called onstage.

    (Published Monday, Feb. 27, 2017)

    Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.