Moonlight director Barry Jenkins says he believes the notorious Oscars gaffe in 2017 fuelled people’s ideas that the film was undeserving of its win.
At the 2017 edition of the awards, La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner of Best Picture, before Moonlight was then correctly unveiled as the victor.
Speaking on the Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast, Jenkins said that although he appreciated the extra exposure that the infamous incident and subsequent Oscars win gave his film, he believes it gave credence to ideas that the film only won the award because it was “the Black film”.
“Because we were awarded Best Picture in that way, that clip was shown so many places,” Jenkins said. “I have no doubt in my mind, out of anything I ever do in my life, and who knows what’s to come ahead, but that particular moment is going to be the most visible thing that’s ever associated with me, for better or for worse.
“The good thing is there were maybe people who had never heard of the film or who had seen it but did not know who I was or what I looked like. This movie played in a lot of small places… because of how loud [the Oscars] was, they did see it.”
He added: “It didn’t feel special in the moment for me personally…it was actually quite frightening what was happening given everything going on in the world. I thought some very nefarious things were happening. I didn’t have the camera angles you guys had. It was almost like being in the parking lot at the let out and pop, pop, pop. That’s where my mind went.”
Discussing the downside of the incident, Jenkins added: “In a slightly sinister way, the fuck-up confirms or affirms some people’s unsavoury thoughts about why the film was awarded Best Picture,” the filmmaker said.
“If you did the blind taste test of films and wrote down all the accolades this film achieved that year, whether it be the ratings, the reviews, all of these things, [then ‘Moonlight’ wins]. If we were at the NFL Combine, and I tell you, ‘This player has these measures and was drafted number one,’ you wouldn’t doubt it at all.
“And yet, when you get into ‘Oh, it’s because it was the Black film’…it’s like no, motherfucker. We ran a [4.2 second 40-yard dash], and we ran it barefoot because we didn’t have the benefits of all that private school Academy training.”
Reviewing Moonlight upon its release, NME wrote: “The three actors playing Chiron – Alex R Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes – serve Jenkins majestically. It’s far too early in the year to call Moonlight the best of 2017, but it would be among the finest of any year.”