Saturday, January 20, 2018
  • Monday, Feb. 27, 2017
Does "Moonlight" Reflect Changing Tide In Hollywood Diversity?
Tarell Alvin McCraney, center, and Barry Jenkins accept the award for best adapted screenplay for "Moonlight" as Amy Adams, left, watches on at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
  • LOS ANGELES (AP)
  • --

Yes, the Great Mistake of Oscars 2017 made history in all the wrong kinds of ways. But a day later, advocacy groups and others overjoyed by the Cinderella win of "Moonlight" were saying, let's forget the snafu and move on - because "Moonlight" made history in all the right kinds of ways.

The coming-of-age story of a gay black youth in a poor Miami neighborhood was made on the tiniest of budgets - $1.5 million, said director Barry Jenkins backstage. It had a mostly black cast, and was seen as the first LGBT-themed movie to win best picture in the 89-year history of the awards show.

And so, there's no point in wondering whether the spectacular mess-up that led to "La La Land" first being announced best picture winner - incorrectly - would overshadow the "Moonlight" win, said Sarah Kate Ellis, president & CEO of GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy group. "I don't think you CAN overshadow the 'Moonlight' win," she said in an interview, while acknowledging it was "a bit upsetting that it went down that way."

What won out, she said, was not only a strong message of diversity and inclusivity, but "hopefully the bigger dream - that Hollywood recognizes this and continues to produce films like this, so that they are not the exception but the rule."

"So often we've heard from Hollywood that writers aren't writing about these things," Ellis said. "So having a success at this level takes that narrative out." The reason for the film's success, she said, was simple: "It reflects the world we live in today. Countless people can relate to it."

Gil Robertson, president of the African-American Film Critics Association, said he woke up on Monday morning simply "floating" over the "Moonlight" win.

"It's definitely a sign that the tide has turned" in Hollywood, Robertson said. The most significant result, he said, is what it would signal to up-and-coming filmmakers.

"What's cool for black filmmakers and filmmakers in general is that this lets them know that it's possible," he said. "It shows them, 'Wow, I can do this too.' That's probably the biggest thing to come out of this." As for the snafu, he said, "It was a mistake. Let's just move on."

That's essentially what Jenkins said backstage, minutes after accepting the best picture trophy. He noted that he had wanted to thank the studio, A24, for believing in and supporting the project throughout - but didn't have time, given the chaos onstage.

"My whole acceptance speech was going to be in thanks to them, because it's amazing to be Barry Jenkins right now, but it was not a year and a half ago for a guy who made a movie for $13,000 and hadn't made a movie in seven years at that point," he said. "And it's unfortunate that things happened the way they did. But hot damn, we won best picture."

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