Moonlight is the little film that could. It basically came out of nowhere to upset La La Land at this year’s Oscars and take the Best Picture award. Did Moonlight deserve it?
Well, no. It’s a very good movie, but La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and even The Witch were better films. That’s not to say it wasn’t deserving of the nominations for Best Picture and in some acting categories.
The sophomore feature from director Barry Jenkins is indeed a thing of beauty. A young boy grows into a man in the film’s three parts, and Jenkins cast the roles perfectly. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes all play the central character at different ages, and they are all spectacular. The movie had one of 2016’s best ensemble casts. It’s also a very good-looking movie, beautifully shot and edited.
Mahershala Ali, the Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor, plays a drug dealer who winds up being a mentor to the young boy; he’s the ultimate in conflicted characters. Ali brings an unexpected warmth to the role. Naomie Harris, also nominated for an Oscar, is memorable as the boy’s drug-addicted mother.
Moonlight is certainly one of 2016’s best and important films—just not the best. It doesn’t really matter what I think; it got the award, even if it had a weird time getting it. (Poor Warren Beatty.)
Special Features: A director’s audio commentary, interviews with the cast and a doc on the music round out the features.