Just a short retrospective on the Oscars and the frankly glaring mix up that occurred during the show the other night. La La Land was falsely announced as the winner of Best Picture in a moment of pure cinema history that took place before our eyes. Moonlight was the actual winner. In the midst of all the drama taking place it can be easy to forget that Moonlight was seen as the underdog to the overwhelming favourite La La Land. Though in actuality I had considered Moonlight the front runner for the last few weeks as a backlash mounted against the perceived over adulation La La Land received. The Oscars traditionally like to award the Best Picture to the most overtly political film of the year. Following the election of Trump, the Black Lives Matter movement and the political discord that continues to divide America it was no surprise to me that Moonlight took the award on the night. Much like Spotlight taking the award last year in part due to its content being perceived as more “Important” I feel Moonlight was the right film at the right time and that it’s subject matter played a part in it winning on the night.
Moonlight was a film that I enjoyed. It was stunningly shot, wonderfully directed and told an original story in a truly ambitious fashion. There were issues I had with it that prevented me from being able to heap as much praise on the movie as some critics did but I felt it was a piece of evocative and powerful cinema and was glad to see it nominated by the Academy. La La Land was my favourite of the nominees, just edging out Hell or High Water (I have yet to see Fences though, something I will soon correct). It swept me away on a whirlwind of glee and it was painful to watch Jordan Horowitz have to hand back his award the other night, which he did with incredible class I might add. However just because my personal favourite did not win does mean that I feel Moonlight’s victory was unwarranted. I will argue till blue in the face that for me La La Land is the better movie, and that even Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea and Hell or High Water were better films to me. But there is a line drawn where you have to acknowledge the subjectivity of cinema. Moonlight’s ferocious originality, narrative ambitions, subject matter and obviously talented cast and crew make it an obvious nominee, and a worthy winner. In the past couple of weeks a few people have asked me what should win Best Picture and I have responded that I would like La La Land or Hell or High Water to win but, in a way, it doesn’t matter. For me as long as a nominated film embodies the highest ambitions of cinema then the eventual victor is almost circumspect. Yes it would be nice to see a particular favourite win, but when dealing with art the lines are so blurred that it becomes illogical that there is a best film, besides simply a favourite. How do you compare Arrival with Hell or High Water, Fences with Hacksaw Ridge or Moonlight with La La Land? Would you compare Mohammed Ali with Sachin Tendulkar? A Ferrari with a Concorde? To me films are so variable that comparison, especially that of the supposed best of cinema, is mute beyond that of personal preference. I’ll fly my flag for La La Land, and happily argue it’s corner till I drop that I think it is better than Moonlight, but I won’t say Moonlight wasn’t a worthy winner on the night. Congratulations to the cast and crews of all the films nominated at this year’s Oscars, you all did brilliantly.