You’ve heard the ads a million times, seen them pop up on your Twitter feed, before a Youtube commercial, and on TV. La La Land was expected to win Best Picture at the Oscars this year, after winning seven Golden Globes and tying the famous Titanic with a whopping fourteen nominations at this year’s Academy Awards. So, no one was surprised when it’s name was announced as winner of Best Picture — but Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway could take a couple lessons from my high school drama coach in that you should a: always triple check your props, and b: leave what’s not about rehearsal, outside of rehearsal (and god forbid you let it affect a performance).
Apparently Beatty and Dunaway had a spat just before the awards over who would announce Best Picture… but all of this is not exactly the point. While the media gets wrapped up in the celebrity gossip and shock that *gasp* something went wrong at the Oscars, the real winners of the award get no recognition. See how far into this article I just got without even mentioning the winning film? It was Moonlight, by the way, who is now being forced to share the spotlight with La La Land.
La La Land has had mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, some falling in love with the musical theater components, while others had complaints about the poor rendition of Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts style filming. Either way, it was surely a crowd pleaser, receiving a 93% rating (rottentomatoes.com). After all, who doesn’t love to see Ryan Gosling play the piano gorgeously in a cheesy rom-com? However, Moonlight still came in with a 97%, critics calling it “a socially conscious work of art as essential as it is insightful.” (Peter Debruge, Variety)
The fact that both of these movies had similar audience approval rates only speaks to the caliber of film that was Moonlight; to score comparably to a such a light-hearted, feel-good movie while having such a dark topic is certainly something to be commended– and not many people expected it to do so, including Stephen Whitty from the New York Daily News. “‘Moonlight’ glows. Unfortunately, the indie drama is going to be a tough sell for a lot of audiences.”
The dark themes within Moonlight clearly managed to hit home with audiences, combining abuse, drugs, racism, and bullying into a film that made audiences truly feel. Clearly, Moonlight was a mature film, one that deals with themes that are increasingly important in our society today, and so it’s no wonder that it ended up taking the gold. To make the producers, actors, and directors share the cover of magazines like Variety is actually ironic in a way; to plant the comedic romance that is La La Land side by side with the controversial tale of overcoming adversity that won the Oscar is fairly absurd. The attention La La Land has been getting in response to this incident ingrains a movie in Oscar history that didn’t actually win, while downplaying the accomplishments of the real winner. For this reason, I say– go see Moonlight. Love La La Land all you want, sure, but support the little film that’s proven itself incredible and gone unnoticed in a Hollywood where overused plot lines and whitewashed acting are the norm, because movies like this are important and deserve just as much, if not more, recognition than most of its competition today.