Monday, 6 March 2017

Dir: Barry Jenkins
Winner of best picture at the 2017 Academy Awards and probably destined to be remembered for all the wrong reasons, I personally didn't think Barry Jenkins's Moonlight was Oscar-worthy, I thought it was much better than that. There is nothing typically 'Oscar' about it, so I'm thrilled that it was nominated and eventually won. I'm not a huge fan of award ceremonies, particularly not the Oscars but in nominating Moonlight they have recognized something important and I don't really mean that just in relation to the film's content, but in the fact they have recognized an independent, a non-showy drama based on its originality and its performances. The premise is quite simple, the execution of the story though is remarkable. It is subtle, relatively quiet, subdued and still. Not the sort of picture that wins awards or is recognized by the larger audience, indeed, Moonlight is the second lowest grossing film ever to win the best picture award. Some say the film's content and the accusations that the Oscars is a whitewash, is the only reason the film was nominated in the first place. I've also read that the film is only perceived as great because of the boundaries is crosses. I couldn't disagree more. Moonlight is one of the most honest films I've ever seen, with heaps of integrity, originality and honesty. You don't have to like the content but you cannot deny it. It's a shame it will be remembered greatly for the Oscar mix up when La La Land was announced the winner by mistake. It took something away from the guys that night I'm sure, which was a little harsh, not fair on La La Land either but as much as think it is impossible to compare both films, both have the same amount of romance within. For me, romance always wins. The performances are stunning. I wasn't sure where the film was going at first but around 20 minutes in, there is a scene between young Alex Hibbert and Mahershala Ali that was like a punch to the stomach. This one scene told the audience that this wasn't going to be another feel-good drama where everything is going to be okay just because you want it to be, this is going to pull no punches, not for effect, but because this is life, not for everyone but for many. That said, everyone can take a little bit of Moonlight and see themselves in it and that is why it works so well. Mahershala Ali is stunning, the three actors that play Little/Chiron/Black are brilliant, as are the three actors that play Kevin. Janelle Monáe is fast becoming one of my favourite actors and Naomie Harris, while reluctant to play the character at first, puts in another career best (along with the many other career bests of hers I can think of). It is a film of several stand-out scenes and performances, it deserves the best picture award because everything about it is perfect. It is rare, even with a five star film, that I ever believe a film wouldn't be better with just a little change here or there, but not Moonlight, every second counts, every frame is beautiful and absolutely nothing is wasted. The only thing I would change would be the audience I watched it with and that ridiculous Oscar mix up but when a film like this reaches the mainstream then it is a happy day for cinema indeed.

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