Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins reveals the Oscars speech he would have given

The director was caught off guard after La La Land was wrongly announced as the Best Picture winner, so didn’t get to deliver his planned speech

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The 89th Academy Awards is bound to pass into film legend, following a mix-up where the Best Picture Oscar (traditionally the biggest award of the night) was mistakenly given to La La Land rather than the actual winner, Moonlight.

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Now, amid all the confusion over who was to blame and the apologies from various Oscar bigwigs, Moonlight’s director Barry Jenkins has revealed that the furore stopped him from giving his planned acceptance speech, instead having to improvise something on the fly.

“Best picture is a producer’s award, so I didn’t plan to say much,” Jenkins told the Hollywood Reporter. “Given the possibility of going up for adapted screenplay, I assumed there was a chance I wouldn’t speak at all, that I would have already said my piece.

“The plan was to have Adele Romanski speak first, then Jeremy Kleiner and, finally, briefly, myself. I planned to keep it personal, repeating and evolving a story I’ve told throughout the season.”

You can read the speech below:

“Tarell [Alvin McCraney] and I are Chiron. We are that boy. And when you watch Moonlight, you don’t assume a boy who grew up how and where we did would grow up and make a piece of art that wins an Academy Award. I’ve said that a lot, and what I’ve had to admit is that I placed those limitations on myself, I denied myself that dream. Not you, not anyone else — me.

And so, to anyone watching this who sees themselves in us, let this be a symbol, a reflection that leads you to love yourself. Because doing so may be the difference between dreaming at all and, somehow through the Academy’s grace, realising dreams you never allowed yourself to have. Much love.”

But after the mix-up, the barest hint of the message ended up making it into Jenkins speech, where he instead said “Very clearly even in my dreams this can’t be true. But to hell with it because this is true. It’s true, it’s not fake.” 

“That came out much differently onstage,” Jenkins acknowledged. “Given what happened in those last 10 minutes of the ceremony, I don’t know how I managed any words at all. It is what it is.”

Oh well – at least we’re getting to see his intended words now.

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Moonlight is in UK cinemas now