People have begun asking me: “What is the best film of 2016?”. I have not seen every single film that has come out and have much catching up to do before making a definitive answer, but as of right now, Moonlight is most certainly in the running.
I ain’t see you in like, a decade… It’s not what I expected.
The first aspect of the film I want to touch on is the direction. Barry Jenkins helms this film as both writer and director. He does a truly remarkable job and never loses sight of the story he is telling. This is a story about someone misunderstood trying to find his place in a world that constantly rejects him. What will happen to this young boy when he grows up? A powerful story that is executed perfectly by Jenkins. While I still think Mel Gibson deserves an Oscar for Hacksaw Ridge, Barry Jenkins deserves a nomination. I will be checking out whatever his upcoming films are. Along with strong direction this film has fantastic performances all around.
Honestly I wish all of the main actors could get a nomination. All three of the young actors that portray Chiron are exceptional. The three actors are: Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes. Not only do they all look similar, but they each acted similarly. Whatever mannerisms Hibbert had as a young Chiron, Rhodes made sure to convey them as a fully grown adult Chiron. A couple of other standouts are Naomie Harris as Chiron’s mother, along with Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe. Each of these actors brought a rawness with their characters that truly brought them to life. After a while you forget that you are watching a film. It starts to feel like real life is unfolding before your eyes.
What did you expect?
Something interesting about this film is that it is split up into three parts. The first part follows a young Chiron who goes by “Little”. This is where you begin learning about who he is and learn about his upbringing. The second part focuses on an older Chiron who goes by simply that: “Chiron”. This is where you start to see more of the internal conflict of the character. The third and final part focuses on a grown up Chiron who calls himself “Black”. This is the payoff.
During the final act you see what the first two acts have led to and it is heart-wrenching. At its core this film is a character study, but I have never seen such a character study that is so raw and realistic. Needless to say, the writing is superb all around. The cinematography is great, the music is great, and the film is nicely paced. I do not have many complaints for this film at all. Occasionally there may be a scene where I thought something cliché happens, but it never took me out of the film. Otherwise, this is a masterfully produced film that deserves every single Oscar nomination it will receive.
At the end I mentioned the Oscars, but honestly even if this does not get nominations that does not mean it is an unworthy film. This is by far the best film I have seen this year. No other film has managed to make me feel, nor think, as much as this film has. Do yourself a favor and seek this one out. It is an important film for all of us to watch and allow ourselves to be enlightened.