2016 #8 – Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins)

“At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.” – Mahershala Ali as Juan in Moonlight.

Moonlight (2016)
Barry Jenkins
Starring: moonlightcast.png
Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monaé, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Written By: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Running Time: 110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes)
Genre(s): Coming-of-Age, Drama, LGBT

Every once in awhile a film comes along that you instantly know is special. It touches you to your core and resonates with you in a way that not many other films do. Moonlight is one of those films.

Divided into three acts, Moonlight tells the story of Chiron through three stages of his life – Little (Alex Hibbert), Chiron (Ashton Sanders) and Black (Trevante Rhodes). The film ends up becoming a moving and an incredibly emotional portrayal of love, self-discovery and adolescence that has stayed in my mind ever since watching it.

The way Moonlight navigates through Chiron’s life is pure perfection and I think it is a testament to Barry Jenkins’ craft that he is able to create such a feeling of hope in a situation where it seems there is anything but. Moonlight doesn’t shy away from the realities of Chiron’s situation, consequently making it feel like an entirely honest experience from start to finish.

This story is brought together by the three Chirons, who are all in sync with each other in a way that is just so impressive. Alex Hibbert and Ashton Sanders both capture Chiron’s desire to figure out his own identity perfectly and while Trevante Rhodes appears to be a completely different person at first, his eyes tell a different story. André Holland (Kevin) and Mahershala Ali (Juan) deliver standout performances as well, each playing important  roles in two of my favorite scenes in the film – the diner scene (which may be one of my favorite scenes ever with such a stunning use of music) and the scene when young Chiron asks Juan what being a f*ggot means. Monaé and Harris are both good as well.

Truthfully, Moonlight does everything right. The storytelling structure is great, the cinematography is stunning, the score is brilliant. Masterpiece. 5/5.

Also, I said it before but the movie’s use of Barbara Lewis’s “Hello Stranger” has to be one of my favorite uses of music in cinema ever.

2016 Personal Ballot (updates are in bold)

Best Picture
1. Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Sing Street
The Jungle Book

Best Director
1. Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Jon Favreau – The Jungle Book
John Carney – Sing Street
Jeff Nichols – Loving

Best Actor in a Leading Role
1. Joel Edgerton – Loving
2. Chris Pine – Hell or High Water
3. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo – Sing Street

Best Actress in a Leading Role
1. Ruth Negga – Loving
2. Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
3. Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1. André Holland – Moonlight
2. Ashton Sanders – Moonlight
3. Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
5. Trevante Rhodes – Moonlight

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1. Janelle Monaé – Hidden Figures
2. Lucy Boynton – Sing Street
3. Naomie Harris – Moonlight
4. Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
5. Janelle Monaé – Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay
1. Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
2. Sing Street – Simon Carmody, John Carney

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Loving – Jeff Nichols
3. Hidden Figures – Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder
4. The Jungle Book – Justin Marks

Best Film Ensemble
1. Moonlight – Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monaé, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Hell or High Water – Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey, Kevin Rankin, Katy Mixon, Margaret Bowman
3. Hidden Figures – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monaé, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge
4. Sing Street – Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kelly Thornton, Don Wycherley, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice, Ian Kenny
5. The Jungle Book – Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken

Best Original Score
1. Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
Loving – David Wingo
3. The Jungle Book – John Debney
4. Hell or High Water – Nick Cave, Warren Ellis
5. Hidden Figures – Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams, Hans Zimmer

Best Original Song
Sing Street – “Drive It Like You Stole It” by Gary Clark
2. Sing Street – “To Find You” by Gary Clark
Sing Street – “Up” by John Carney, Gary Clark, Graham Henderson, Carl Papenfus, Ken Papenfus, Zamo Riffman
Hidden Figures – “Runnin’” by Pharrell Williams
Hidden Figures – “I See a Victory” by Kirk Franklin, Pharrell Williams

Best Production Design
1. Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena
2. Hidden Figures – Missy Parker, Wynn Thomas
3. Sing Street – Tamara Conboy, Alan MacDonald

Best Cinematography
1. Moonlight – James Laxton
2. Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
1. Sing Street – Barbara Conway, Sandra Kelly

Best Costume Design
1. Sing Street – Tiziana Corvisieri
2. Hidden Figures – Renée Ehrlich Kalfus
3. Loving – Erin Benach

Best Film Editing
1. Moonlight – Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
2. Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
3. The Jungle Book – Mark Livolsi
4. Sing Street – Andrew Marcus, Julian Ulrichs

Best Visual Effects
1. The Jungle Book – Andrew R. Jones, Robert Legato, Dan Lemmon, Adam Valdez
Passengers – Pete Dionne, Sebastien Gourdal, Erik Nordby
Hell or High Water – Jeremy Cox, Scott Hastings, Daniel Holt, Michael Prawitz

2016 Ranked (updates are in bold)

1. Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins)
Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie)
Sing Street (dir. John Carney)
Loving (dir. Jeff Nichols)
5. The Jungle Book (dir. Jon Favreau)
6. Hidden Figures (dir. Theodore Melfi)
7. Passengers (dir. Morten Tyldum)
8. The Girl on the Train (dir. Tate Taylor)


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