Best Picture Nominees — Moonlight
We are just a few days away from this year's Academy Award telecast. Nine films are vying for the top prize in film, and in the run up to the awards I've been taking a look at their chances. We've reached the final two, in this case the films I think have the best shot at winning the top prize. Today is a tale of growing up from the mean streets of Miami.
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes
Director: Barry Jenkins
Total Nominations: Eight
Nominated For: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Harris), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney), Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score
About: "Moonlight" is one of the top contenders, and is a film that could very will win the top prize. From a social and political standpoint, it's on point. The film is about a young black man coming of age in the streets of Miami. His mother is an addict, his only role model is a drug dealer, and his only friend is subject to the fickle whims of popularity. The film, in three slices, shows the story of this boy and his struggles with growing up. And did I mention he happens to be gay in a time, place, and culture where that could get you beat up or worse? It's a powerful story that centers on a single question, "who are you?" It's oft repeated, and the film is meant to be an exploration of one man's journey to answer that question. I didn't love this film, but I appreciated the craft. And I think it will win a few awards on Sunday night. While I don't see it winning the three technical awards, or Harris coming out on top in the Supporting Actress race, it's a strong contender in the other four. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jenkins win for directing, though I think that likely goes to Damien Chazelle. But I think Jenkins and writing partner McCraney will win for Adapted Screenplay. I also think Ali is the front-runner in the Best Supporting Actor race, and I think he should win. Finally, "Moonlight" has a decent chance at Best Picture. I don't think it ends up on top, but it would be my second-place finisher.
Rating: R for some sexuality, drug use, brief violence, and language throughout.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Where to See It: "Moonlight" is now playing nationwide.