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‘Moonlight’ wins in surprising upset at a politically charged Oscars



Donald Trump was the subject of many jokes and speeches in Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre Sunday night at the 89th Academy Awards. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, hosting the high-profile ceremony for the first time, frequently prodded the president for his politically controversial statements and stances.

“Remember when just the Oscars were racist?” Kimmel joked, referencing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of previous years.

This year’s awards reflected a strong reaction to that controversy, which emerged out of a perceived lack of diversity in the nominees and winners. “Moonlight,” a critic favorite about a closeted Black gay man coming of age in Miami, won three Oscars, including Best Picture.

Read our review of “Moonlight” here.

The announcement came as a shock for audiences both at the event and watching from home. “La La Land,” which took home six awards and was the odds-on favorite to win, was initially announced as the winner. But as that film’s cast and crew made their way onto the stage, Kimmel rushed out to make the correction.

Kimmel jokingly blamed himself for the mistake, making reference to Steve Harvey several times as the ceremony came to a close. “I knew I would screw this up somehow,” he said sheepishly.

While “La La Land” took home the most awards of the night, “Moonlight” followed with three, including Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. Ali, the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, thanked his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, and their newborn daughter.

Other films proved successful at the ceremony. Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” about conscientious objector and WWII medic Desmond Doss, took home two awards for Sound Mixing and Film Editing.

Not everyone thought “Hacksaw Ridge” deserved an Oscar. Click here to read our review.

Emma Stone and Casey Affleck won Best Actress and Best Actor for “La La Land” and “Manchester by the Sea,” respectively. Stone, who fell short of winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress two years ago for “Birdman,” used her speech to thank her fellow nominees. Affleck, a first-time nominee new to awards season, expressed a sense of surprise with his win.

“I wish I had something bigger and more meaningful to say,” Affleck said. “But I just look out at [the audience], and I’m proud to be a part of this community. I’m just dumbfounded that I’m included.”

To see how we thought the Oscar nominees would shake out, click here.

Celebrities and winners made pointed political jokes and references all evening. Actor Gael Garcia Bernal spoke out against President Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a significant campaign promise for Trump.

“As a Mexican, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that separates us,” Bernal said.

Ashgar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” won Best Foreign Language Film, was not present at the ceremony. Farhadi, an Iranian filmmaker who decided not to attend in protest of President Trump’s Muslim ban, had a prepared statement read to the audience.

“Dividing the world into the U.S. and our enemies creates fear — a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” Farhadi wrote.

Kimmel kept the evening light-hearted, despite the show’s political bent. The host frequently poked fun at Matt Damon, a nod to a humorous beef between the two of them begun on Kimmel’s late-night program, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Kimmel also maintained his reputation for pranks, diverting a bus of Los Angeles tourists to the venue for an impromptu peek at the ceremony.

Outside of the show-stopping mistake at the end of the broadcast, the rest of the program went without a hitch. A full list of the winners can be found here.

Follow Dana on Twitter @AlstonDalston.


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Dana Alston

Dana Alston

Dana Alston is an Associate Arts & Culture Editor from San Jose, CA. He writes about film, music, and television. Paul Thomas Anderson is his one true god.

You can follow his meme-endorsed social media ramblings @AlstonDalston on Twitter or Letterboxd, or shoot him some eloquent hate mail at [email protected]