The story of a young black man growing up with a dysfunctional home life and discovering his own sexuality is told over three chapters roughly seven years apart beginning at age nine.
I went into Moonlight worried sick it wouldn’t live up to the immense praise heaped upon it by all corners. Bar Arrival (the best film of 2016) and Manchester by the Sea every single best picture nominee has disappointed me to some level. What if I was that one guy that didn’t like Moonlight? Well, I’m not that guy. Because Moonlight deserves every single bit of praise it gets and more. Given that Arrival does not have a chance in hell of winning the award, I will be rooting for Moonlight all the way.
It’s hard to put into words quite how incredible Moonlight is. It doesn’t really conform to pre-set movie formulas so it’s very difficult to set out a basis for comparison with other movies. Other nominated movies have found themselves terminally unstuck by sticking to a rigid part structure, Lion and Hacksaw Ridge ended up fragmented and overlong. Moonlight on the other hand is a revelation. I’ve just looked on IMDb and apparently it’s just under two hours long, well I tell you it was all too short. I needed more of every character, every scene. Much the sea that is so crucial to the story, Moonlight simply washes you along with it. It’s not desperately grabbing at your attention like some of the other nominees, and because of this there isn’t that big “wow” moment when you suddenly get involved like the first battle sequence of Hacksaw Ridge or La La Land’s opening number. Instead it lets the characters and the filmmaking do the talking.
Moonlight could populate pretty much every supporting and leading actor nomination spot at the Oscars by itself. Mahershala Ali is about to win best supporting actor and deservedly so, he is on screen for precious few minutes but he calmly dominates them. Appearing paternal and protective but also clearly dangerous. His presence is such that even after he departs from the screen he can be felt throughout the movie. All three actors that portray Chiron I would nominate for best leading actor, though interestingly none actually say that much, it’s through them that you experience the movie. Naomie Harris, whom also is on screen for precious few minutes, steals every scene she’s a part of.
In my heart I know that Moonlight will go down in history as the movie people thought won in 2017. I think it’s destined to become like Boyhood and Citizen Kane, that pub quiz question that reads what won the Oscar in the year that Moonlight didn’t. Oh was it that Musical? For me the comparison between Moonlight and La La Land is stark and vast. La La Land is very enjoyable fluff, whereas Moonlight is a deeply beautiful and poetic masterpiece. It’s a movie that’s going to stay with me for quite some time now, if anything I don’t think it’s been praised enough.