Film Review: Moonlight (2016)

And the Oscar Goes to:

Moonlight, 2016

Directed by: Barry Jenkins

Starring: Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monai, Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland

Moonlight, the recipient of 2017’s Oscar for Best Picture, is a movie adaptation from Tarell Alvin’s unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. The film is presented in three parts, each exploring a different time in Chiron’s life (as a youngster: Little; a teen: Chiron; and an adult: Black) as he faces the hardship of a drug-abusing mother, bullies and struggling to accept that he might be gay.

From start to finish Moonlight comes across as something entirely different; a focus on themes and characters overtake the usual focus on a strict A-to-B plot, which, in my opinion, has both positives and negatives. On the plus side, the acting within this film is amazing; everyone’s part comes across as natural and it’s no surprise to see Mahershala Ali win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Naomie Harris nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The performances are flawless from start to finish. As well as the acting, praise must be given to both the editing and the cinematography teams within the film, as they truly earned their Oscar nominations. The editing is immaculate, with camera shots cutting from one point to another to perfection; not lasting a second too long or a second too short.

However for me it is not without criticisms. While it had superb cinematography, editing, writing and acting, a lack of a traditional plot did disappoint. I couldn’t help think back to 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook (starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence) where they tackled an issue seldom seen in major films (dealing with mental health issues) but they did so where they also had a plot (the romance of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as well as the dance competition they were training for); Moonlight did not have this. It had a love interest; throughout the three stages of Chiron’s life we also see Kevin, Chiron’s closest friend. From childhood friends to sexually experimenting teenagers to estranged adults, Kevin’s part seems to simply confuse Chiron’s feelings without the traditional happily-ever-after we’ve come to expect from a love story. And while it focuses on Chiron’s dealing with all of these things (rather than the love story) it does seem to be lacking a plot and an ending for me.

That being said, Moonlight also took home the Oscar for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Original Music Score and Best Director; Moonlight was nominated for a total of eight Oscars at the 2017 awards which is a fantastic achievement. A brilliant film with regards to acting, writing and cinematography, I just felt it lacked the traditional plot I’ve become accustomed to.

Plot: * *

Acting: * * * * *

Writing: * * * *

Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ¾

 

Performance at the 2017 Oscars:

Oscar wins: Best Picture (2017); Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali); Best Adapted Screenplay (Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin)

Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris); Best Director (Barry Jenkins); Best Original Music Score (Nicholas Britell); Best Cinematography (James Laxton); Best Film Editing (Nat Sanders, Joi McMillon)

 

Watch the trailer *here*

 

Ratings Elsewhere:

Metacritic: 99

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

IMDB: 7.5/10

 

More from And the Oscar Goes to:

2016’s Best Picture winner: Spotlight

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