A black teen grows up alone and confused about his sexuality
in a neighborhood where being different is a death sentence.
Written and Directed by Barry Jenkins
Starring Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex R. Hibbert,
Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe,
André Holland, Jharrel Jerome
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Adapted Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris),
Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing,
Best Original Score (Nicholas Britell)
Moonlight is a film that captures the human experience better than anybody ever has before. In this modern world where a person is not defined by their sexuality or the color of their skin, films like this are important. They show people the damage that labels can do to a young person's psyche and how the way we act when we're children resonates throughout our entire lives. This film tells the story of a young black child named Chiron and his lifelong search for an identity he can call his own. He was bullied for being gay and suffered daily abuse from his crack-addicted mother. His only friend was a victim of peer pressure and steered clear of him in public. Needless to say, this film is eye-opening but very sad.
Writer/Director Barry Jenkins takes us through Chiron's life at three very important stages. First, as a child nicknamed Little and his friendship with drug dealer Juan, played by a criminally underused Mahershala Ali. Despite being in the film for barely 20 minutes, Ali scored an Oscar for his work in this film. He's one of the best actors working today and I feel he deserved the accolades. Next, we see Chiron as a teen in high school, dealing with bullies and the emergence of his homosexuality. Ashton Sanders played him in this section of the film and I felt he was the most raw and powerful. He captured the most crucial part of Chiron's life and delivered a great performance. Finally, we see him all grown up, as a gangster with the street name Black. This section showed how Chiron had been pushed into being someone he wasn't. His reconnection with his childhood friend was a good way to cap off his story thus far and give the audience hope that he can still choose his own path.
I understand why this film took the top prize at the 2017 Oscars. Moonlight is a phenomenal film that deals with controversial themes and gives audiences a glimpse into the life of a regular person dealing with life-changing decisions. There's times when we feel like there's nothing we can do to change who we are. This film says otherwise. Moonlight shows that you are who you choose to be, no matter what anybody says to you. Your life is your life, and this film proves that again and again.