Moonlight dazzles film critics

New film wins big at the Oscars

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – The new motion picture Moonlight has gotten quite a bit of attention since its release in October 2016, particularly at the 89th Academy Awards, where it won the Oscar for Best Picture. The popular film is based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s 2003 play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. McCraney assisted with translating the story of his script to the screen alongside director Barry Jenkins. The film’s cast includes Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes, and André Holland.

Moonlight captures the journey of the main character, Chiron, in three important stages of his life. The action of the film is divided into three separate sections: when Chiron is a young child, when he is in his teens, and when he grows into an adult. A different actor portrays him in each part of the story, capturing the different aspects of his journey into adulthood. The story includes his experience with dealing drugs, coping with a dysfunctional family member, and exploring his sexuality.

For the first part of the movie, Alex Hibbert plays Chiron, or “Little”, a young black boy growing up in Miami, Florida. This segment focuses on Chiron’s relationship with a drug dealer he meets named Juan. Juan develops a bond with the young boy, teaching him how to float in the ocean and inviting him to spend time with him and his girlfriend, Teresa. A shy child who is fleeing bullies at school, Chiron is also trying to escape his awful home life, and he does so by turning to Juan. In the next part of the movie, Ashton Sanders portrays Chiron as a teenager, who still faces bullies but finds comfort in his friend Kevin. Finally, Trevante Rhodes captures Chiron’s years as an adult and personal experience with drugs and law enforcement as a African American male.

The movie also features a musical score by Nicholas Britell (along with a few songs by Goodie Mob, Barbara Lewis, and Boris Gardiner). The soundtrack was released in October 2016.

Moonlight has received critical acclaim in the film industry. It earned the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, and was nominated for eight Oscars. In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, Moonlight also was awarded Best Adapted Screenplay. Mahershala won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Juan, making him the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.

Watching Chiron’s growth throughout the film is deeply personal and extremely gripping. Its simplicity and honesty is what makes this film so inspiring and popular among audiences everywhere. Even though the story is very specific and the characters are well-constructed and complex individuals, the movie does more than tell one man’s story. It goes beyond that and makes a statement on American culture and the experience of being a Black American. This is one more reason to make an effort to see this Oscar-winning film.

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