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Moonlight won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay at the 89th annual Academy Awards.
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney took home the award, marking the second win of the evening for Moonlight, which went into Sunday night’s show with eight nominations, including for the top prizes of best picture and best directing.
Actor Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor for his role in the film, a coming-of-age story about a young gay black man in Florida, earlier in the evening. The film later won best picture.
Although other organizations classified Moonlight as an original screenplay, the Oscars put the composition, inspired by McCraney’s autobiographical play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, in the adapted category.
While Jenkins began his acceptance speech with a long list of thank-yous, he ultimately pivoted to more political remarks amid a particularly socially conscious awards season.
Explaining that he tells his students to “be in love with the process, not the result,” Jenkins admitted he wanted “this result opportunity to speak to the Oscars’ large audience around the world.
“All you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror out there, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back. The ACLU has your back. We have your back and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you,” Jenkins said.
McCraney said he was glad that “two boys from Liberty City” could be up there. “This goes out to all of those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming [people] who don’t see themselves,” McCraney said. “We’re trying to show them you and us. … This is for you.”