How 'Moonlight's' shocking win ricocheted across Twitter.

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The end of the 89th Academy Awards was one for the ages — and that’s an understatement.

“Moonlight” writer-director Barry Jenkins accepts the Academy Award for Best Picture. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

“Moonlight’s” stunning upset victory over early frontrunner “La La Land” was made even more shocking by the fact that presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially awarded the Best Picture trophy to the wrong film. Thinking they’d won, “La La Land’s” producers delivered their entire acceptance speeches — only to hand the award off when they realized what had happened.

In many ways, this moment was exactly what Twitter was built for.

The mix-up unleashed a tidal wave of snark, followed by chaos, followed by jubilation — all playing out in real time.

Initially, supporters of “Moonlight” — who were stung that a groundbreaking black queer coming-of-age story would likely be shut out by a conventional Hollywood romance — prepared themselves for disappointment.

Starting with a win for Best Production Design, it seemed like “La La Land” was poised for a clean sweep of the night’s biggest awards.

Tweeters of color in particular — including some of the most prominent voices on black Twitter — were less than pleased, especially when “La La Land” appeared to have claimed the night’s top prize.

one day

Black people are gonna fly away to another planet à la Sun Ra

& we’re taking all our good art with us.

see how you like it then.

— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) February 27, 2017

So much for the Academy being more representative of America. #Oscars

— Evette Dionne (@freeblackgirl) February 27, 2017

Thankfully I began the emotional preparation for this bullshit a month ago

— roxane gay (@rgay) February 27, 2017

Black and brown people, seriously, why do we continue to watch the #Oscars?

— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) February 27, 2017

Then it happened. “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz stepped up to the mic and announced the mistake. “Moonlight” had actually won.

At first, it seemed like it might be a terrible prank.

If this was a joke it’s not fucking funny.

— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) February 27, 2017

But pretty quickly, it became clear Horowitz wasn’t kidding. All hell broke loose.

News organizations had to adjust their breaking news alerts.

BREAKING UPDATE: Following incorrect announcement, ‘Moonlight’ has won Best Picture at the #Oscars.

— ABC News (@ABC) February 27, 2017

Shock and disbelief reverberated across social media.


— Low (@LowKeyUHTN) February 27, 2017

trending: ?!?!?!?!

— O Clare Hutchinson (@aux_clare) February 27, 2017

Literally all of us tonight at the #Oscars

— Bustle (@bustle) February 27, 2017

When the confusion died down, it became clear the seemingly impossible had happened.


— Kiva Reardon (@kiva_jane) February 27, 2017

“Moonlight” had won Best Picture. For real.

And the celebration began.

The shocking upset victory was hailed as a long-overdue win for marginalized groups of artists…

This is a historic night for black and queer storytelling. #Moonlight #Oscars

— Tre’vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) February 27, 2017

Black queer people have created popular culture since the beginning of time, and no one has credited us for anything.

Till now.

— Kima Jones (@kima_jones) February 27, 2017

…and for moviegoers who have waited just as long to see themselves on screen.

Take a moment and think about the reverberating effect of Moonlight’s #Oscars win on all the Littles, Chirons, and Blacks out there.

— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) February 27, 2017

This is a win for so many.
I’m amazed and elated.
Let’s celebrate this for a long time, y’all.

— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) February 27, 2017

Many saw a deeper symbolism in the chaos and confusion.

Oh you won Best Picture, @LaLaLand ? Would be a shame if the spirit of Black History Month decided otherwise. #Oscars

— Saint Twon Don (@TroubleSan) February 27, 2017

and this is nerdy to say but still saying it, what if now Moonlight also becomes a verb meaning getting your due despite white shenanigans 🌝

— Ayesha A. Siddiqi (@AyeshaASiddiqi) February 27, 2017

That was the greatest enactment of white privilege giving way to a new America. Reluctantly. Weirdly. But it happened. #Oscars

— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 27, 2017

A black film won best picture and no slavery or maids were involved in the making of the film. #Oscars

— Kevin Simmons (@TheSkorpion) February 27, 2017

Others praised the “La La Land” team for reacting to an enormously difficult moment with grace.

I loved that the producer from La La Land immediately gave over the Oscar. No hesitation. Even he knew Moonlight deserved to win. #Oscars

— Fortune Feimster (@fortunefunny) February 27, 2017

The LA LA LAND people were so classy. Amazing. Two great movies.


— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) February 27, 2017

Most, however, were simply thrilled.



My emotions.#Oscars

— April (@ReignOfApril) February 27, 2017

Moonlight and La La Land are masterpieces in their own right. Two films can coexist. Don’t knock down one to boost the other. #Oscars

— ✨ (@flixls) February 27, 2017

“To hell with dreams. I’m done with it. This is true.” #MOONLIGHT WINS BEST PICTURE! ALL LOVE, ALL PRIDE!

— MOONLIGHT Movie (@moonlightmov) February 27, 2017

This victory for “Moonlight” may or may not represent a sea change in the way the Oscars does business.

Time will tell whether the Academy is truly committed to rewarding greater diversity in film. And “La La Land” deserves all the awards it won and critical recognition it’s received.

But last night, a small, gorgeous, unsparing, nuanced movie about the life of a gay black kid in Miami, written and directed by artists of color, took home the top prize. What’s more? It deserved it.

Now, more than ever, that matters.


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