Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Moonlight - 8 nominations

Best Picture - Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
Actor in a Supporting Role - Mahershala Ali
Actress in a Supporting Role - Naomie Harris
Cinematography - James Laxton
Directing - Barry Jenkins
Film Editing - Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon
Original Score - Nicholas Britell
Adapted Screenplay - Screenplay by Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Moonlight is a beautiful film told in three acts.  Act I follows the first part of a life, in which a child with a crackhead mother must fend for himself until he meets someone who teaches him about life and cares for him... despite the fact that this role model is a drug dealer.  But he's a drug dealer with a heart of gold who takes the boy into his life and makes sure he is safe and has a strong male stabilizing influence in contrast to what the child's mother is ill-equipped to provide.  In Act II, the child has grown up a bit and is now a teenager who is picked on while he tries to navigate the world with a mother who is increasingly desperate and more and more addicted to drugs and bad choices. He finds one single friend who is his lighthouse in the darkness, who cares about him and treats him with respect.  Only an act of the deepest kind of betrayal can shatter the life our protagonist is living. In Act III, the young man is grown up, and is a product of the difficult life he has led.  He is now the one responsible for his choices, and longs for the authentic and giving love he so rarely had in his life.

Everything about Moonlight is beautiful and heartbreaking.  Each phase of life ends with the haunting transition of a black screen and police lights, as if to say that this constant barrage of disappointments and loneliness can only have one inevitable conclusion.  Every actor who plays a third of this person's life is incredible - and I think everyone who sees the film will be especially touched by Mahershala Ali's quiet portrayal of the drug dealer father figure - his kindness could be felt through the screen.  I'm shocked that Trevante Rhodes (Act III) was not also nominated for his incredible performance as Black.  I just watched the film a second time, and again, I was overwhelmed.  There is not a sour note throughout the film.  In fact, when I saw Moonlight for the first time, I was shocked by what happened in the theater.  Most of the time when you go to a movie, as the credits begin to roll, people begin shuffling and collecting their belongings, some people stay seated to watch the credits and others leave.  Not so with Moonlight.  EVERYONE in the theater just stayed still.  Nobody moved.  It was as if we were all too stunned with what we just witnessed and needed a moment to take it in as a community.  That is the mark of a truly outstanding film.  And that's just what Moonlight deserved, as are all of its 8 nominations.

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