Katie’s Movie Review – Part: 4

Katie Phillips, Staff Writer

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Back at it again. Here with the Infamous Oscar Best Picture award winner. And it was certainly worth the win.

Moonlight (2016) R

Written and Directed by: Barry Jenkins. Based off the book “In The Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Cast: Trevante Rhodes as Adult Chiron. Ashton Sanders as Teen Chiron. Alex Hibbert as Child Chiron. André Holland as Adult Kevin. Jharrel Jerome as Teen Kevin. Jaden Piner as Child Kevin. Naomie Harris as Paula. Janelle Monáe as Teresa. Mahershala Ali as Juan. Patrick Decile as Terrel. 

Summary: A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

With 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie comes to win. I once read a tweet from a celebrity that said something like “La La Land was good, but Moonlight was important.” And honestly that’s all it comes down to. La La Land may have a few catchy tunes and some big names. But Moonlight has a story that needs to be told in today’s modern narrative. It follows the tale of a young African American boy, Chiron, all the way up to adulthood. The audience gets to experience the trials and tribulations that come with being a double minority with weak family ties in a poor neighborhood. The story is broken into three sections: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Each section has its own tests for Chiron, such as bullying, his biggest crush getting a girlfriend, and even going to prison. I would like to call the tale heartwarming but, sadly, it’s not. Because, of course, in postmodern media, all gay love stories are tragedies. And yes, I commend it for trying to be realistic, but c’mon, can’t I get one movie that I don’t have to take a 4 hour depression nap after? Just saying. That’s my only criticism.

Alright, lets dive deeper. Moonlight holds the first LGBTQ+ film to win best picture at the Academy Awards. In 2006 Brokeback Mountain, a mournful gay cowboy movie underlining deep-seeded homophobia throughout society, was up for the same award. “Many members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including Ernest Borgnine, refused to even watch Ang Lee’s mournful cowboy ballad. Tony Curtis opined that John Wayne, über-masculine patron saint of the Western genre, wouldn’t approve,” says author Nico Lang on Salon. It lost to a movie called Crash, which was a complete upheaval of everything the people there thought was going to happen. Other LGBTQ+ films have been nominated for wins, such as Milk (2008), Dog Day Afternoon (1976), The Hours (2002), The Kids Are All Right (2010), Capote (2006), and Carol (2015). The first ever LGBTQ+ person ever to win an award was in 1927 (Janet Gaynor for her roles in 7th Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans). And in 1972 Paul Winfield was the first African American to be nominated for his leading role in Sounder. Lee Daniels was the first ever LGTBQ+ African American movie director to be nominated in 2008. The Times of Harvey Milk was the first gay-themed documentary with openly gay directors to win Best Documentary in 1984. There has never been an LGBTQ+ African American to win an acting award (Wikipedia) So. You can see why this film is important.

Anyway, lets talk about the film itself and what makes it good. The three-tier storytelling platform allows the audience to bond with the characters over what feels like most of their life. You get a connection that’s more than just a few hours of film. And the main character, Chiron, is an underdog. Everyone loves an underdog. And unrequited love. Well, unless it’s in their own life. But people love watching it on the big screen. Though this film doesn’t focus on cinematography, it focuses on building characters and relationships. That’s all it boils down to. Love and representation. If you take anything from this, take that.

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