Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Moonlight at at the 89th Annual Academy Awards Sunday night. He beat out Hell or High Water's Jeff Bridges, Manchester by the Sea's Lucas Hedges, Lion's Dev Patel and Nocturnal Animals' Michael Shannon for the award.
Ali had long been the frontrunner, winning rave reviews for his turn as Juan, a drug dealer and voluntary father figure to Chiron (Alex Hibbert) a boy struggling with his sexuality and his mom Paula's (Naomie Harris) drug addiction in a rough Miami neighborhood.
This was Ali's first Academy Award nomination. He also won the SAG and Critics Choice Awards for his performance, all of which capped a strong year for the actor. In addition to Moonlight, he appeared in the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures and had a leading presence as the villain "Cottonmouth" in the Netflix show Marvel's Luke Cage.
And the win is most certainly a highlight of an already awesome weekend: the 43-year-old Oakland, Calif. native welcomed his first child, a daughter Bari Najma Ali, with wife Amatus Sami-Karim four days before his Oscar win.
Choking back tears, the actor was largely humble during his acceptance speech, forgoing the same kind of over-the-top poignant (and political) speech he gave at the SAG Awards in favor of a toned-down message that included a shoutout to his grandmother, thanks to mentors and a loving ode to his wife, who was in her third trimester during awards season. "I want to thank her for being a soldier through this process," Ali said. "Peace and blessings."
Double congratulations, sir.