‘Moonlight’ wins best picture Oscar after major gaffe
"Moonlight," a poignant story of human connection and self-discovery in the tough projects of southern Florida, won the best picture Oscar on Sunday, besting favorite "La La Land" -- though not without drama.
Starring Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, the film by director Barry Jenkins tells the life story of a young African-American struggling to find his place as he grows up poor in Miami.
The prize was only given to the film after a massive on-stage mix-up that led to "La La Land" first being given the award -- an Oscars moment sure to rank among the most infamous in history.
"I told my students, 'Be in love with the process, not the result.' I really wanted this result," Jenkins said as he accepted the award for best adapted screenplay -- one of three on the night for the film.
Later, after the mistake, he told reporters: "It's unfortunate things happened the way they did but damn, we won best picture."
Played by three different actors at various stages in his young life, Chiron, the film's central character, grows up among drug addicts as he gradually comes to terms with his homosexuality.
The film has won plaudits as a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and is praised in equal measure as a groundbreaking and personal meditation on identity, family, friendship and love.
"Moonlight" has established Jenkins in critical circles as a major American talent. This was only his second feature-length movie, after the critically acclaimed romance "Medicine for Melancholy," eight years ago.
Set in Miami's notorious Liberty City public housing project, among the most crime-infested neighborhoods in America, "Moonlight" has won almost unanimous praise for its acting, direction, screenplay and cinematography.
It has an average rating of nine out of 10 from more than 200 reviews aggregated by film website Rotten Tomatoes.
"Moonlight uses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema," the site's critical consensus reads.
Ali -- best known for his portrayal of White House chief of staff Remy Danton in Netflix political drama "House of Cards" -- was one of eight nominees from the film and took home the best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Juan, a drug dealer with a heart.
Harris ("Spectre," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom") has earned nominations at all the major awards ceremonies for her intense performance as Chiron's crack-addicted single mother, but came out empty-handed. She was beaten to the best supporting actress Oscar by Viola Davis, who picked up her statuette on her third try for "Fences," having previously been nominated for "Doubt" (2008) and "The Help" (2011).
"Moonlight" had been pushing clear of the also-rans in the betting for best film but was still seen as significantly behind "La La Land."