Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far: https://largeassmovieblogs.com/2017/01/the-lamb-devours-the-oscars-2017-roster.html
How has a movie like Moonlight become a front-runner for Best Picture? This is still a mystery to me, although numerous people have tried to Oscar-splain it at this point. It’s not the fact that it’s a film about people of color – we’ve seen other films be quite successful with this before. Sure, the Oscars are desperately trying not to be so white but the skin color of the characters in Moonlight is not such a huge award-recognition obstacle. What I think sets Moonlight apart in a wonderful way, is how it is about people of color. This is such a subtle and moving film, such a refreshingly paced, edited and acted movie, that I am still surprised about it getting a nomination.
Let me explain. I thought Selma was just okay. I didn’t really like 12 Years a Slave. I hated Lincoln. And I’ve never bothered to watch Precious or The Blind Side. The main reason for this being that these movies seem to be yelling at us in all caps: FEEL GUILTY AND BE SAD to varying degrees of loudness. Or if you aren’t a privileged white person like me, then just; BE SAD. Of course, that doesn’t just apply to these films, it’s also the reason why I haven’t bothered to watch Suffragette yet.
But Moonlight is different. It doesn’t do any of these things. It simply tells a good story, and that story happens to be that of a black, gay man who was raised by a drug-addict and a drug-dealer in a very rough area of Miami. On paper, this sounds terrible to me. Because it could be filled to the brim with clichés, as many similar films have been. And if that non-existing terrible version of this film had garnered the award recognition that Moonlight is getting, it wouldn’t have surprised me. The fact that instead we got this Moonlight is probably one of the best things that has happened in American cinema in the last few years.
For sure, this is an achievement we should mainly credit Barry Jenkins with. Where this man has been in the last eight years following his first feature film, is another riddle. Although perhaps it isn’t; he was surely busy trying to find investors for this film – I cannot begin to fathom how hard that must have been. This film also gave us – and with us, I mean the people who don’t watch House of Cards – Mahershala Ali. And what a gift he is. All the other performers are incredible too, to be honest. It’s particularly amazing to see the three actors playing Chiron melt together into one perfect character.
Of course, one cannot talk about Moonlight without mentioning its beautiful soundtrack, gorgeous cinematography and knife-sharp editing. There must be other things I have forgotten too.
Let me just say for all us, if Moonlight is left award-less after Oscar night, we will FEEL GUILTY AND BE SAD.