Moonlight director Barry Jenkins said the infamous Oscars mix-up at the end of the 2017 ceremony has unfairly reinforced the belief that the movie won best picture only because “it was the black film.”
Barry Jenkins made the comments during an interview on the “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered” podcast to promote his latest work, the Amazon Prime limited series The Underground Railroad.
At the end of the 2017 Academy Awards, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly awarded the best picture Oscar to La La Land. The mix-up, which only became apparent as the La La Land producers were accepting the award on stage, ranks as one of the biggest disasters in Oscars history.
“In a slightly sinister way, the fuck-up confirms or affirms some people’s unsavory thoughts about why the film [Moonlight] was awarded best picture,” Jenkins said.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 27, 2017
He said all of the accolades Moonlight had won prior to the Oscars indicated it was the true winner.
“If we were at the NFL Combine, and I tell you, ‘This player has these measurables and was drafted number one,’ you wouldn’t doubt it. You wouldn’t doubt it at all. And yet, when you get into ‘Oh, it’s because it was the black film’…of course, it’s like no, motherfucker,” he said.
Jenkins acknowledged that the publicity generated by the Oscars mistake ended up boosting his career and Moonlight‘s visibility.
“That particular moment is going to be the most visible thing that’s associated with me,” he said. “The good thing is that there are people who had never heard of the film or who had even seen in it and had no idea who I was or what I looked like… and because of how loud this thing was, they did see it.”
During the interview, Jemele Hill revealed that she has never seen La La Land, adding that she isn’t a fan of musicals.
Jenkins also gave a shout-out to New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones for writing an article about the movie and the Miami neighborhood where Jenkins and co-screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney grew up.
Hannah-Jones would go on to spearhead the 1619 Project, her widely criticized and discredited effort to reframe American history around slavery. The project sought to make 1619 — the year the first slaves arrived to the British colonies — the true founding of the United States.