Moonlight Shines Bright
Over winter break, I had the pleasure of watching ten of the best movies of 2016-17, including all but one of the nominees for this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture. I watched La La Land, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Silence, Moonlight, Nocturnal Animals (not nominated), Hidden Figures, Arrival, Sully, Manchester by the Sea, and Hell or High Water. After watching these movies nominated for Best Picture, I believe that Moonlight will take home the 2017 Academy Award. Why? It is simply one of the best movies I have ever seen.
Both Hidden Figures and Fences seem to serve as direct responses to the Oscars’ So White controversy of 2016, since they highlight the achievements and lives of strong, talented African Americans. However, I believe that Moonlight is different from these films; it garnered the nomination regardless of the social issues touched upon in the film that are relevant to our times. If you read no further than this line, know this: Moonlight is a simple story told simply.
Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, who grew up in the Miami Ghetto. The movie chronicles his journey in three stages, each one reflective of a different period of his life: his childhood, his teenage years, and his twenties. Despite the location of the film and various plot elements, the film does a fantastic job of omitting unnecessary drama. The story progresses smoothly without the gratuitous and clichéd overdramatizing that has characterized recent Hollywood films. The three different actors who play Chiron do an incredible job of not only creating continuity within the character, but also feeding off of each other in a way that creates a seamless transition from one to the next.
Mahershala Ali, who plays the role of Juan, is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Despite his character’s brief appearance in the film, Juan greatly influences Chiron’s transformation. Naomie Harris, who plays Chiron’s mother, has also been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Furthermore, Moonlight is nominated for best Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, and Music (Original Score). Overall, this film will move you, shock you, potentially make you cry, and amaze you. If you only see one movie in the next couple of months, make it Moonlight. You will not be disappointed. The movie is available for streaming beginning Feb. 14.