“Moonlight”: In the Limelight (Or, Can You Spell O-S-C-A-R?)

“Moonlight”: In the Limelight (Or, Can You Spell O-S-C-A-R?)

At the screening of  Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” – a love fest – the rapt Telluride audience learned the writer-director had come up through the ranks of the Telluride Film Festival, doing everything he could to keep his hand in the game after his days attending the Student Symposium ended: he popped popcorn, cleaned bathrooms, spilled beers. The hosannas began as soon as “Moonlight” left our box canyon. Below, for one example, is Matthew Jacobs’ rave from the Huff Post entitled “To Be Young, Gay and Black: The Beautiful Importance of ‘Moonlight’.” If you read nothing else, at least check these words in the first paragraph: “…most important thing to appear on the big screen this year.” My prediction: “Moonlight” in the limelight at the 2016 Academy Awards.

If you are already in the club, continue reading a second story about what happens to Chiron after “Moonlight” ends. 

“Moonlight” goes into general release Friday, November 4.

 “Moonlight” is a lyric poem in three stanzas. It’s a movie of haunting specificity that also speaks to anyone who’s clung to shards of hope amid dejection. It’s a tale of breathtaking simplicity and heartrending intricacy. It’s a vibrant meditation on injustice. And it may be the most important thing to appear on a big screen this year.

It’s an annual tradition for film festivals to produce a smattering of titles that rise above the cinematic void. Rarely are they received as rapturously as “Moonlight,” the coming-of-age drama written and directed by Barry Jenkins (”Medicine for Melancholy”). The praise has been unanimous and warranted.

“Right before the movie premiered at Telluride, I kind of made a note to myself that I was proud of the film and proud of the work that we did, and I’m going to try to just live in that headspace,” Jenkins said during a conversation in New York two weeks ago. “It’s still the same film it was a month ago and the same film it was when we wrapped on set. I try to remember that and keep it all in perspective because the truly important thing is to get the film out to the community.”


Based on an unproduced, semi-autobiographical play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, “Moonlight” is the story of Chiron, an introvert living in the Miami projects with his crack-addicted mother (Naomie Harris). Kids pick on him because he’s not as butch as the other boys. “What is a faggot?” he asks Juan, a neighborhood drug dealer (Mahershala Ali) who shows compassion for Chiron. Juan and his girlfriend, Teresa (Janelle Monáe), become surrogate parents. Chiron escapes to their orderly home for the food and comfort often denied to him. He struggles to understand his sexuality and his poverty, and he has nowhere else to turn. “My mama does drugs?” he asks Juan, and we melt with sympathy.

“Moonlight” comprises three chapters, each a short film unto itself. In the first, Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert) is a grade-school boy who’s been branded with the nickname Little because he is smaller and daintier than the others…

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