Moonlight secured the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, a first for both writers. The script, based on McCraney’s unproduced screenplay (Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue) about a young black boy-turned-man’s conflict with sexual identity while he navigates a tough upbringing, beat out scripts from Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures and Lion.
Jenkins said onstage: “I tell my students that I teach sometimes, be in love with the process not the result. But I really wanted this result because a bajillion people are watching and all you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back,” mentioning Oscars attendees who wore blue ribbons in support of the union. “For the next four years, we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you.”
McCraney dedicated the award to the “black and brown” kids and “non-gender conforming.”
“Two boys from Liberty City, up here on this stage, representing three-oh-five,” he stated. “This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves, we’re trying to show you, you and us. So thank you, thank you, this is for you.”
It was an unusual year for the screenplay categories. At the WGAs, Arrival won for adapted while Moonlight took original screenplay. But at the Oscars, both competed against each other in the adapted category.
Moonlight also bestowed an award for Mahershala Ali (Supporting Actor) and took home the Best Picture victory, after La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner.