The end of the 89th Academy Awards was one for the ages — and that's an understatement.
"Moonlight's" stunning upset victory over early frontrunner "La La Land" was made even more shocking by the fact that presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially awarded the Best Picture trophy to the wrong film. Thinking they'd won, "La La Land's" producers delivered their entire acceptance speeches — only to hand the award off when they realized what had happened.
In many ways, this moment was exactly what Twitter was built for.
The mix-up unleashed a tidal wave of snark, followed by chaos, followed by jubilation — all playing out in real time.
Initially, supporters of "Moonlight" — who were stung that a groundbreaking black queer coming-of-age story would likely be shut out by a conventional Hollywood romance — prepared themselves for disappointment.
Starting with a win for Best Production Design, it seemed like "La La Land" was poised for a clean sweep of the night's biggest awards.
Tweeters of color in particular — including some of the most prominent voices on black Twitter — were less than pleased, especially when "La La Land" appeared to have claimed the night's top prize.
Then it happened. "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz stepped up to the mic and announced the mistake. "Moonlight" had actually won.
At first, it seemed like it might be a terrible prank.
If this was a joke it's not fucking funny.— Akilah Hughes (@Akilah Hughes) 1488172341
But pretty quickly, it became clear Horowitz wasn't kidding. All hell broke loose.
News organizations had to adjust their breaking news alerts.
BREAKING UPDATE: Following incorrect announcement, 'Moonlight' has won Best Picture at the #Oscars.… https://t.co/kMdWfOS6ut— ABC News (@ABC News) 1488172501
Shock and disbelief reverberated across social media.
WOWWWWWWWWW RT @intjRj: @LowKeyUHTN https://t.co/AloQ6TjVk3— Low (@Low) 1488172701
Literally all of us tonight at the #Oscars https://t.co/stvZz0Lksm— Bustle (@Bustle) 1488173121
When the confusion died down, it became clear the seemingly impossible had happened.
"Moonlight" had won Best Picture. For real.
And the celebration began.
The shocking upset victory was hailed as a long-overdue win for marginalized groups of artists...
Black queer people have created popular culture since the beginning of time, and no one has credited us for anything. Till now.— Kima Jones ⏰🪜🔨💫✨ (@Kima Jones ⏰🪜🔨💫✨) 1488173045
...and for moviegoers who have waited just as long to see themselves on screen.
Take a moment and think about the reverberating effect of Moonlight's #Oscars win on all the Littles, Chirons, and Blacks out there.— Franklin Leonard (@Franklin Leonard) 1488184082
This is a win for so many. I'm amazed and elated. Let's celebrate this for a long time, y'all.— Raquel Willis (@Raquel Willis) 1488174112
Many saw a deeper symbolism in the chaos and confusion.
and this is nerdy to say but still saying it, what if now Moonlight also becomes a verb meaning getting your due despite white shenanigans 🌝— Ayesha A. Siddiqi (@Ayesha A. Siddiqi) 1488173327
Others praised the "La La Land" team for reacting to an enormously difficult moment with grace.
Most, however, were simply thrilled.
Y'all. WTF. My emotions. #Oscars— April (@April) 1488173457
This victory for "Moonlight" may or may not represent a sea change in the way the Oscars does business.
Time will tell whether the Academy is truly committed to rewarding greater diversity in film. And "La La Land" deserves all the awards it won and critical recognition it's received.
But last night, a small, gorgeous, unsparing, nuanced movie about the life of a gay black kid in Miami, written and directed by artists of color, took home the top prize. What's more? It deserved it.
Now, more than ever, that matters.