Moonlight ★★★★

As a straight white dude who doesn't often make the effort to stray outside his bubble, I have few meaningful points of reference for this, but it reminded me quite a bit of Boyhood, both in its strengths and its weaknesses. Not only are both stories about coming of age and self-discovery, but both films' protagonists are primarily blank ciphers for larger social/thematic issues.

Without getting too deep into this comparison (or the pedantry of why I rated one higher than the other), my main (and only?) problem with Moonlight comes in part 3, where I began to feel the screenwriter behind the scenes. Suddenly the most successfully naturalistic film of the year felt artificial.

As usual, though, the fact that I feel compelled to focus on the negative at all is more a sign of how well received the film has been than a sign of my personal reaction to it. I loved it. As an animate sack of anxiety who also has trouble opening up to other people, I felt a strong connection to Chiron and to the film regardless of my skin color or sexuality.

Plus, the way the camera lingers on all of the actors is just magical. It not only creates the kind of languid pace that I love, it also lets the characters actually express their stories through emotions. Chiron and Kevin sitting across from each other at the diner. Chiron reveals something about himself. Cut to Kevin. No dialogue. Just a suddenly solemn expression. Now that's storytelling. It's little things like this that I forgot I needed after watching so much mainstream garbage.

2016 | Oscar Nominees

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