On "Moonlight," Mistakes, and Moments

By now, you’ve seen or heard about the dramatic finale of last night’s Academy Awards, namely that La La Land was initially announced as the winner for Best Picture, but a few moments later, it was announced that there had been a mistake and that Moonlight had actually won.

Here is that moment:

One could invent all kinds of conspiracy theories, ask so many questions, and discuss this moment ad nauseum for the next twenty years. Some folks will gleefully engage in all three preoccupations.

For my part, I remarked last night on Facebook that I’d thought it odd at the time that Warren Beatty was taking a long time to read the name. He seemed confused and concerned, and Faye Dunaway didn’t know how to respond.

And I was not amused by Jimmy Kimmel trying to make light of a situation that was anything but funny—though I realize that’s his thing—and his repeated references to Steve Harvey irked my nerves.

Ha. Ha.

But above all else, I was struck by perhaps the lone thread of beauty in the entire scenario:

The behavior of La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz.

With all those people on stage trying to correct and corral the situation, he is the one who stepped forward and announced, “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won. This is not a joke.” He then took it a step further, held up the correct card showing that Moonlight won, and encouraged them to come up on stage to accept their award.

Think about that.

In the midst of a crushing personal disappointment, he set that aside to give the Moonlight team their moment.

And when Jimmy Kimmel persisted in his attempts to lighten up the situation, wondering why Horowitz couldn’t also get an Oscar, Horowitz doubled down on his dignity and said, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.”

Think about that.

I didn't see Moonlight and had been rooting for Hidden Figures all along. And I'd also expected La La Land to win. So when Faye Dunaway announced its victory, I immediately turned off the television because I was disappointed.

I turned off the television because my preferred film didn't win while the producer of La La Land stood in front of the world and handed his trophy to the actual winning film.

Well, trophies aside, I think Jordan Horowitz was the biggest winner of the night.

May I learn to operate with similar selflessness and poise, to accept defeat and disappointment with equal aplomb. Or at least not glare at my husband when he eats the last piece of something delicious I’d been secretly saving for later.

Congratulations, Moonlight. I am sorry you were cheated out of your big moment. But thank you, Jordan Horowitz, for doing your best to get them one while giving the rest of us an unexpected lesson on grace.


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