Throughout the history of Oscar Season, there comes one ‘Best Picture’ nominee that strikes you as a truly great movie. For me those films were 1962’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the 1970’s Oscar winner ‘Patton’, and 2015’s ‘Room’, and ‘The Revenant‘ to name a few. (In fact, to name all the films I found to be truly great would take this entire paragraph and especially add more filler instead of depth.). ‘Moonlight’ is one of those nominees. Will it win this year’s Oscar for ‘Best Picture’? Who knows! My guess would have to be ‘La La Land’, due to the Academy’s love for classic film. However, ‘Moonlight’ is something special. This is a film that grabs your attention from the first frame where we are introduced to drug dealer Juan (Played with sincerity by Oscar-nominee Mahershala Ali) to the last frame where we see young Chiron a.k.a Little (Alex Hibbert) staring at the audience while occupying a beach where the film’s most emotional moments take place.
The film is divided into three acts disguised brilliantly as chapters where we see young Chiron go from childhood to adolescence (where he is played by Ashton Sanders) to adulthood (where he is played by Trevante Rhodes). It is a coming-of-age tale that feels so real with its amazing direction and well-written screenplay by Barry Jenkins, you can’t help but watch and feel for Chiron’s struggle as he deals with his sexuality, the school bullies that pick on him for it throughout his education years, and his crack-addicted mother (Played brilliantly by Oscar-nominee Naomie Harris). This film not only lets you feel the emotions while sitting through these chapters, but the way Jenkins structures each moment is nothing short of development. We watch Chiron grow and we are with him all the way. This type of storytelling that Jenkins brings to the audience is enough to not make it seem so rushed, or try to be an Oscar film. ‘Moonlight’ just happens to be up for 8 Oscar nominations.
I was really excited for ‘Moonlight’ when I first saw the trailer. Between you and me, I am fascinated with any hint on neon. But it isn’t just the color scheme that ‘Moonlight’ boasts in order to get my attention. There was a lovely score orchestrated by Nicholas Britell, which many people would mistake for someone such as Bach, or Ludwig Van Beethoven that also caught my attention. This film does have an amazing, and haunting score that sticks with you and makes you rethink your life. The cinematography by James Laxton also feels like a neon-drenched breath of fresh air.
Whether ‘Moonlight’ takes home that long-awaited Oscar, or it ends up going to ‘La La Land’, there is no denying that Barry Jenkins’ ‘Moonlight’ is a work of art, a masterpiece and the real best picture of 2016. It is also a film of extreme importance no matter who you are.