Can we get a rewind?

There’s no denying that the climactic moments of the 89th Academy Awards, when an envelope mix-up resulted in “Moonlight” initially losing the best picture Oscar to “La La Land” until the error was swiftly rectified, will go down in movie history. In one chaotic and unforgettable moment, parallel streams of elation, disappointment, shock and giddy disbelief ebbed and flowed and dramatically changed course.

The final outcome, once it was sorted out, was undoubtedly one to celebrate, as director Barry Jenkins, his producer Adele Romanski and original playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney delivered brief, heartfelt remarks to whoops and applause. The surreal scene – which featured a magnificent display of sportsmanship and artistic camaraderie on the part of both “La La Land” and “Moonlight’s” creative teams – is already destined to become part of Hollywood legend and lore. But lost in the sheer strangeness of it all was that crystalline, indelible moment of triumph that “Moonlight’s” victory represents, above and beyond its artistry.

Director Barry Jenkins celebrates after “Moonlight” won best picture. Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision via AP

In fact, it’s the sophistication and formal elegance of “Moonlight” that convinced so many of its admirers that it was a long shot for best picture. Like many of my fellow critics, I had put “Moonlight” at the top of my list of best films of 2016. But I was resigned to the fact that the 6,000 or so voting members of the Academy would most likely give their top honor to “La La Land,” an exuberant but bittersweet look back at cinema history and a wary look forward to its uncertain future. Having had my expectations duly managed – OK, lowered – over the years, I decided (to my shame) that I would be happy if “La La Land” won best picture as long as Jenkins at least won best director.

Instead, the opposite happened. And it took “Moonlight” winning best picture to make me realize how much it means for the academy – a group of industry professionals that has become a metonym for the show-business establishment at its most culturally and corporately powerful – to declare it the finest movie of 2016.

For one thing, “Moonlight’s” victory proves that those Hollywood suits and technicians appreciate cinema, not just as a commercial or industrial enterprise, but as an art form: in this case, exemplified by a movie that is just as rooted in film’s history and auteurist past as the rapturously nostalgic “La La Land.”

Just as that movie’s director, Damien Chazelle, quotes such masters as Jacques Demy and Vincente Minnelli throughout his alternately naturalistic and ersatz song-and-dance musical, Jenkins quotes the saturated palette of Wong Kar-wai and the pictorial style of Claire Denis, whom he has frequently cited as influences. “Moonlight” may be about a young man coming of age amid poverty, drug addiction and homophobia in contemporary Miami, but its narrative roots extend all the way to Hong Kong, West Africa and Paris.

As grounded as “Moonlight” is in film history, it’s just as self-conscious in its revolutionary reframing of the world. Three years ago, the historical drama “12 Years a Slave” became the first best picture winner to feature a predominantly African-American cast; this year, “Moonlight” became the first best picture winner to feature an exclusively African-American cast, with nary a white savior, patron or villainous foil to speak of. As a movie that centers on black lives and experience, it joins fellow nominees “Fences” and “Hidden Figures” as that rare film about African-Americans in which the protagonists aren’t reduced to their identities as enslaved laborers or domestic servants, but are fully realized agents of their own destinies.

Much was made this year of the academy’s perceived progress in being more inclusive, after years of being criticized for ignoring actors and filmmakers of color. Last year, the organization invited 683 new members to join, ensuring that a hefty percentage of them were of diverse ethnic heritage (the new class was also 46 percent female).

Damien Chazelle won best director for “La La Land.” Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision via AP

That might have had something to do with “Moonlight’s” win last Sunday, but the fact that a record 18 people of color were nominated this year, as well the impressive showing of “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and the feature documentary nominees (four of five of whom are black) suggests that more movies are being made by and about a wider swath of humanity that lend themselves to award nominations – movies with resonant stories, layered characters, superb production values and directorial vision. The more such movies are made, the more viewers of all races will be able to see themselves reflected in their narratives; the more nuanced those narratives, the more accessible their core ideals will be. This is why “Moonlight” has taken hold with so many viewers, regardless of whether they grew up black, gay or male – or listening to “chopped and screwed” music in Miami.

Toward that end, as the “La La Land” and “Moonlight” teams embraced each other amid the confusion on the Dolby Theatre stage late last Sunday night, an inescapable truth was illuminated with almost prophetic clarity. The reason the Oscars matter is that, like movies themselves, they’re microcosms for the same social space that marginalized groups have been fighting for over the course of generations: the space to be seen, recognized and valued every bit as much as the ones who have occupied it as a birthright for centuries.

That fight is far from over, especially within a stubbornly entrenched Hollywood system of discrimination, unacknowledged bias and solipsistic storytelling. But for a brief moment, it was clear that it’s not a zero-sum game. There’s still room on that stage for countless other artists. It’s a matter of who’s motivated to claim it, who’s willing cede some of it, and who recognizes that the future lies in making sure it’s big enough to share.