Oscar 2017: Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor, Moonlight

Mahershala Ali, who plays a benevolent drug dealer in Moonlight, the year’s most acclaimed film, is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.

While Ali had been the critics’ favorite and won the Screen Actors Guild prize, he lost the Golden Globe (Aaron Taylor-Johnson in “Nocturnal Animals”) and the British Academy prize (Dev Patel in “Lion”) to other contenders. (See below).

My Wonderful Teachers

During an emotional speech, Ali thanked his “wonderful teachers and professors,” and shared with the audience some advice he received from them: “It’s not about you, it’s about these characters. You are a servant. You’re in service to these stories and these characters.”

He thanked his wife, who just gave birth a few days ago. “I just want to thank her for being a soldier through it all and carrying me through this process,” he said of awards season.

While Ali did not bring this up during his speech Sunday night, after he won a SAG Award earlier this year, he proudly declared, “I’m a Muslim.”

Supporting Actor Nominees:

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Lucas and Hedges are fresh faces, first-time nominees.  Shannon has been nominated before.

Jeff Bridges has won Best Actor and has been nominated six times before, in both the lead and secondary leagues.