MOONLIGHT (2016) 5 Stars (out of 5) Rated R — 110 Minutes

The following review first appeared on December 15, 2016.

If 2016 was the year of “Oscar’s African American Snub” — then 2017 may just be the first time in 89 years — “Oscar’s Year of the African American Triumph”. Hollywood was color blind last year, but in reviewing all of this year’s major films — every one of Oscar’s 20 acting nominations could be filled by a person of color. While there is one film — Nate Parker’s masterpiece, THE BIRTH OF A NATION, whose deserving actors, crew and film may be totally shutout, it is a safe bet that when the Oscar nominations are announced on January 24, 2017, you can expect nominations for LOVING, FENCES, HIDDEN FIGURES and MOONLIGHT.

MOONLIGHT is the first and only film in 2016 that I am recommending to either purchase or rent the DVD. In order to grasp and truly understand all of the subtleties and nuances, you will need to watch it twice, if not three times. Yes, this is a haunting, disturbing film that just may be better seen at home. This can then give family and friends the opportunity for discussing to address the myriad of themes.

MOONLIGHT is very much a director’s film. Barry Jenkins will surely be nominated for Best Director of the Year as will his film. Mr. Jenkins, with Tarell McCraney, wrote the screenplay together, adapting from an original stage play — “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Mr. McCraney.

The film’s narrative is divided into three separate chapters in the life of Chiron — first played by Alex Hibbert (boy); Ashton Sanders (adolescent) and Trevante Rhodes (man). Chiron’s mother is played by Naomie Harris.

Mahershala Ali is absolutely brilliant as Juan and is destined for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Janelle Monae plays Teresa. And three actors who play Chiron’s schoolmate Kevin (growing from Jaden Piner to Jharrel Jerone to Andre Holland) should also be acknowledged.

Equally outstanding is the cinematography directed by James Laxton and the eclectic musical score coordinated by Nicholas Britell. MOONLIGHT is nominated for 6 Golden Globe Awards.

MOONLIGHT begs the question and brings to light what life is like around the Miami housing project. The themes which I wrote down as the story developed included — Black and Poor; Drugs, Adolescence and Parenting; Bullying, Homophobia and Masculinity; Incarceration, Regrets and Redemption.


Last week I reviewed LOGAN, which became my first “A” rated movie of 2017. The film is projected to have an astounding opening week (combined domestic and international) box office of $170 Million.

Next week, through the magic of CG animation, comes KONG: SKULL ISLAND. New York City and the Empire State Building becomes a distant iconic memory as we now find ourselves in Southeast Asia. The year is 1973 and US troops are pulling out of Vietnam. Satellite photos reveal the existence of an uncharted island. This new film has a pretty good cast led by John Goodman, Corey Hawk, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson and Thomas Mann. Full review coming next week.


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