Moonlight has won the best picture Oscar in an unlikely victory, sensationally defeating the strong favourite La La Land.
This was after Faye Dunaway read out La La Land as the victor – and the cast and crew took to the stage and completed many of their acceptance speeches. Chaos then reigned as Warren Beatty, with whom Dunaway had presented the prize, returned to the stage to admit their mistake.
“I wasn’t trying to be funny,” said Beatty, explaining that they had been handed the previous winner’s envelope – for Emma Stone’s La La Land victory. “That’s why I looked at Faye for a really long time,” said Beatty.
Directed by Barry Jenkins and adapted from an unpublished playscript by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight won near-universal critical plaudits for its depiction of the coming of age of a gay black teenager from a rough neighbourhood in Miami.
Moonlight premiered at the Telluride film festival in 2016, and generated Oscar momentum straightaway, winning a string of awards including best drama at the Golden Globes and best feature at the Gotham awards.
It defeated nine other films in the Oscar race: apart from hot favourite La La Land, it also beat Kenneth Lonergan’s grief drama Manchester by the Sea and the commercially successful Hidden Figures, about black female mathematicians who worked on Nasa’s moon mission in the 1960s.
This makes Moonlight the lowest-budget best picture winner of all time: made for $1.6m, so easily trumping its nearest rival, Precious, whose budget was between $6.5-$10m.