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Barry Jenkins
Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Sanderson, Jharrell Jerome, Trevante Rhodes, André Holland

Winner: Golden Globe for Best Drama
Nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture!

Moonlight is one of those movies that showers its audience with blessings: raw yet accomplished performances from a uniformly fine cast, casually lyrical camerawork, and a frankly romantic soundtrack that runs the gamut from ’70s Jamaican pop to a Mexican folk song crooned by the Brazilian Caetano Veloso.” ( In this poetic triptych a gentle Black boy bullied as a “faggot” grows to manhood in Liberty City, Miami, finding a father figure in the local drug king (a great Mahershala Ali) and his vibrant wife (a sweet yet fierce Janelle Monae) while enduring the abuse of an addicted mother (a ferocious, no-holds-barred performance from Naomie Harris).

Based on a play by gay Macarthur “Genius” fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney (In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue), with a screenplay by straight director Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy), the 27-day location shoot embraces the city both men grew up in. A blend of rapturous lyricism and neo-realism, Moonlight evokes memories of Truffaut and Jean Renoir while playing with a totally Black and Cuban vernacular. The film’s three sections pivot around the boy Chiron’s friendship/ attraction to the much more outgoing Kevin who challenges Chiron to be “less soft,” including an intimate meeting on the beach (water and moonlight a recurring motif) as adolescents, and a cathartic reunion as adults.

Ithaca College undergraduate Jharrel Jerome plays the teenage Kevin as a live spark to the deep waters of Ashton Sanders’ Chiron. And never has a run-down diner provided more romance as a guarded “Black” makes his rendezvous with short-order cook Kevin. “A poetic drama about growing up poor, black, and gay in an America that insists on looking anywhere but there,… it’s a cultural watershed—a work that dismantles all the ways our media view young black men and puts in their place a series of intimate truths. You walk out feeling dazed, more whole, a little cleaner.” (Boston Globe)


DCP 'Scope color
1 hour 51 minutes
release year/country
2016 USA