In what has to be the most bizarre series of events ever to transpire on the Oscar stage, Moonlight took the Best Picture trophy, in the strangest manner possible—after the La La Land crew had been told they won the trophy, and took the podium, and gave their speeches. But it turned out there had been an error. Presenter Warren Beatty, upon opening his envelope, said that Emma Stone’s Best Actress notice was inside—hence the reason for his long, dramatic pause upon seeing it. His co-presenter Faye Dunaway took the envelope and announced La La Land had won, and its producers and cast took the stage, reading their prepared speeches.
Then they were interrupted, by Beatty and a (delightfully) frantic Jimmy Kimmel. Beatty had gotten the wrong envelope; Moonlight, in an incredibly unexpected surprise, had won Best Picture. Of course, it made perfect sense for the La La Land team to take the stage because its triumph seemed so pre-ordained, especially after Damien Chazelle won Best Director. But no, Moonlight, the tale of the adolescence and adulthood of a gay African American boy in Miami, had actually won. It’s the lowest-grossing film to win Best Picture in a generation, and one of the most critically acclaimed; its triumph would have been surprising and uplifting no matter how it happened. It capped an Oscars that had otherwise been largely predictable, and Moonlight took its trophy in a way that will certainly be remembered forever.