Nobody and I mean nobody was predicting a Best Picture win for Barry Jenkins‘ Moonlight, but it edged out La La Land all the same. So what happened?
Donald Trump happened, for the most part. Championing a small, sensitive film about a lonely closeted black dude from Miami — a film about love, compassion and overcoming fear as well as the bruisings of a bad parent — was the right thing to do in the face of a loathsome climate of alt-rightism and “make America [white] again.”
Obviously a large bloc of voters simply warmed to Moonlight for its intimacy and artistry. A good portion of these supporters, I suspect, had also been stubbornly insisting all through award season that La La Land was escapist fluff. Which anyone with a soul and a brain will tell you it definitely isn’t (or at least is a lot sadder and more melancholy than the lightweights realized). But the “say no to fantasy” clods wouldn’t budge.
L.A. Times columnist Glenn Whipp wrote last night that after giving Best Picture trophies to The Artist, Argo and Birdman Academy members had tired of honoring yet another film about struggling artists and the travails of the entertainment industry.
But at the end of the day, Moonlight won a Best Picture majority for the same reason that Asghar Farhadi‘s The Salesman took the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar — it was the right film to support in lieu of the ugliness in Washington.
Received last night from Jordan Ruimy: “Moonlight‘s Best Picture win was at least partly mandated by the racial politics of the moment.”
S.R.O. (Significant Russian Other) to me last night: “What is this Moonlight? Have you seen it?”
Me: “Yeah. Saw it last September. It’s small but good. Very well made. Didn’t exactly rock my plimsoul…”
S.R.O.: “As good as La La Land?” [Which she saw a few weeks ago and loved.]
Me: “Well, in my humble opinion, no. But it’s good. I respect it. It’s a thumbs-upper.”