For a lot of us, the Best Picture fuck-up at last year’s Oscars was a momentary and amusing blip, or even an eventual moment of relief: We were free from the tyranny of La La Land, and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight had actually won. It was less reassuring for Jenkins himself, as it turns out, who says the cloud of confusion around what should have been one of the most satisfying moments of his entire career kind of screwed him up, pretty much for the rest of the year. “I wasn’t sure that thing was mine or who it belonged to because of how everything happened,” Jenkins said recently. “And it made 2017 a very long year.”
Jenkins’ comments came as part of his advice to the currently nominated Jordan Peele, who was in the room—with John Singleton and Lee Daniels—for a Hollywood Reporter roundtable discussion with the only four African-American men to have ever been nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. (Steve McQueen, who was nominated for 12 Years A Slave, is British.) It’s a frank, fascinating conversation, whether Peele is laying out the moment when Get Out’s white audiences caught up to what kind of film they were actually watching (it involves keys, in case you’ve never seen it), their collective support for Ryan Coogler’s path into blockbuster superstardom, or their bafflement that Spike Lee (or any number of talented black female directors) weren’t in the room with them.
Jenkins elaborates on his feelings about the Oscars—and his two minutes of losing them—near the end, when he’s asked to give some direct advice to Peele about his time at this year’s show:
I have mixed emotions. It’s cool to be here now a year later because all the things I felt like I wanted to do heading into the ceremony, I did. We went and made Beale Street [based on the James Baldwin novel], and we’re making Underground Railroad at Amazon. Those were things that were going to happen whether we lost or won. And for two minutes, we lost. And in those two minutes, I was still self-satisfied because I knew I’m going to go off and do these things, you know? Winning or losing is not gonna take any of those things off the table. But it’s bittersweet because when that switch happened, I didn’t enjoy it. And I look back on that whole process, the process that you have handled very well, my friend, and all that shit comes together at the end and because of how things went down, I didn’t enjoy it. And I’m never going to get the opportunity to enjoy that—because even if it happens again, it won’t be the same. Moonlight was a very special film for me. It was super-personal, as this film is for you, so, bro, I’m gonna have to say what [Singleton] said: Smile, yeah, but enjoy that shit, man, ’cause you earned it.
You can read the full conversation here.