Best: Beyoncé Wins Video of the Year
After racking up 11 nominations — more than any other artist, ever — and delivering a gripping, 15-minute Lemonade medley, it was no surprise that Beyoncé scored the ultimate VMA. "I dedicate this award to the people of New Orleans," said Bey who set her groundbreaking video in the city. From the city's roots in the slave trade, to the economic and environmental devastation it faced post-Hurricane Katrina, to an ongoing epidemic of police violence, "Formation" is a tribute to the endurance of its people, most notably those who are black and poor. Yet Beyoncé and director Melina Matsoukas take it a step further, making the case not just for black survival, but for black empowerment in a series of striking images: her middle fingers up in funeral garb; black women linking their arms in dance; a newspaper headlined "More Than a Dreamer" with MLK's face on the cover; a standoff between a child in a hoodie and row of riot cops; the words "STOP SHOOTING US" scrawled on a wall; Beyoncé herself lain across a New Orleans cop car, sinking in the midst of a flood. To Beyoncé, New Orleans is not just the city she loves; New Orleans is the mirror through which the United States must see itself, warts and all. Whereas 2013's "***Flawless" once called for the world to bow down, 2016's "Formation" is the call to rise up.