The Oscar winner and the college football hot taker

Some Academy Award winners aren’t that much different from the rest of college football fans.

Barry Jenkins, the screenwriter and director of “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” needed an outlet for his frustrations, commentary and hot takes each Saturday.

Plus, like he told ESPN, you “don’t just walk off the stage at the Oscars and then start talking about the college football championship.”

So Jenkins, who also adapted the Colson Whitehead novel “The Underground Railroad” into an Amazon Prime series, did what many forlorn college football fans do: he turned to Twitter.

“For most of the week, people are one version of themselves on Twitter, whether it’s me as a filmmaker or people who are lawyers, doctors, hip-hop artists, whatever it is,” Jenkins told ESPN. “And then on Saturday, we all come together. And it’s like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know we had these things in common.'”

But the community of football fans, armchair analysts and hot takers probably doesn’t have an Oscar at home, or scores of other awards and nominations, or is directing an upcoming prequel to Disney’s “The Lion King.”

And yet, none of that matters on sports Twitter. And honestly, it’s totally fine if he loses a few film followers when the football tweets begin, he said.

If you are someone who enjoys college football — like, really enjoys it — then you have definitely come across a Jenkins tweet or 10.

Like when he scorched then-Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen during the Gators’ loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.

Or live-tweeted through bowl games and College Football Playoff games during the New Year’s weekend.

His sports questions, comments and concerns online date back to at least 2016 and include other sports like the NFL and soccer. He’ll even mull over his fantasy football team with Twitter.

“The only things that are really exciting or rewarding to talk about are sports because it’s one of the few things where everyone is watching the same thing at the same time,” Jenkins said.

For Jenkins, who calls his Twitter experience a “very raw, honest place,” his social media takes are almost two different episodes. During the week, he recommends films and TV shows or shows off photos from his productions. Then the sports come on.

Jenkins’ love of football dates back to when he was running back at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, a football powerhouse that features alumni such as Teddy Bridgewater, Dalvin Cook, Amari Cooper and Devonta Freeman. His personal football fandom doesn’t matter when he’s watching games. Or tweeting about them. He’s from Miami and went to Florida State because he wanted to attend school with friends and study at the university’s film school. However, he is a Gators fan and they are a reason he’s drawn to football Twitter every weekend.

“It’s kind of just fun, especially over the last two years, we’ve all been so isolated,” Jenkins said. “You know, a game comes on and you start tweeting and you realize, ‘Oh s—, everybody else is watching the same game.’ And it kind of feels like the world kind of becomes your pub.”

Between the pandemic and his production schedule, Jenkins said that he hasn’t gone to a football game in person for a while.

Still, he’s clearly locked in and watching. Jenkins has a giant screen on the set of “The Lion King,” where he watched bowl games and the College Football Playoff contests. He also downloads condensed games, subscribes to college football newsletters and, in the time-honored college football tradition, he spends time on message boards.

But even at his most passionate moments, he is trying to keep his football Twitter fingers somewhat under control.

“I have a certain responsibility so I can’t just be a dude in a sports bar. So I do check my tweets about football,” said Jenkins, who also leaves some spicy tweets in drafts. “Tweets singling out a certain player or coach either never see the published light of day or get deleted soon after.”

He caught the College Football Playoff title game between Alabama and Georgia on his on-set screen. Last week, when ESPN spoke to Jenkins, he predicted a Bulldogs’ win, while saying he was rooting for the Tide.

“UGA is gonna crush,” Jenkins said. “Like, by at least three touchdowns.”

With Georgia winning 33-18, Jenkins was not far off. And he was there with his own brand of in-game analysis.

Now that the college football season is over, Jenkins will have to go back to tweeting about his film projects. He might not have as many hot takes, but there’s always next season.

“I really made some friends that I’ve never met, you know on the message boards and through social media, things like that,” Jenkins said. “I think that’s pretty cool.”

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