Have you seen the Oscar winning Best Picture yet? “Moonlight” should win it on Academy Awards night, February 26, 2017. Best Director, too, for Barry Jenkins.
The reasons why it might not win are the reasons it will win. It does drug dealers a different way: sensitive and vulnerable (vulnerable on a personal level, not on a turf protection level). It draws homosexuality outside the box in each of three distinct developmental stages and in a Miami ghetto besides.
That three-part construction works especially well telling this story. “Little” lucks toward two very different horizons in his stunted pre-teen life. The same kid, as a teen, grows into his real name, “Chiron,” stepping across two very different, life-changing thresholds. The adult, comfortably wears the name “Black,” coming to terms with two very different aspects of his manhood.
That may sound complicated, like too much to get right. Jenkins gets it more than right. He gets it brilliant. He flows it deceptively simple. Evoking the Miami home turf that he grew up in, Jenkins makes you feel so much more of the lives than the two hours of screen time. Every choice by Jenkins (he directed and wrote the screenplay) feels like a master class in “less is more.”
“Moonlight” delivers all this with an acting ensemble that upends “best of” categories. Three actors play Chiron. Three actors play Kevin (probably the most interesting character). Three actors play the parent figures in Chiron’s life. Each in the ensemble brings something special to the modulated intensity of “Moonlight.”
If you want to talk in terms of applying difficulty points in tallying Oscar scores, “Moonlight” offers something that isn’t like other Oscar contenders in any year. “Moonlight” reflects big issues without really feeling like an issue picture. It reflects relationships that are cooler than the circumstances could possibly allow. It seems unlikely ground for such a resonant film. Regardless, the light of this moon is full.