Moonlight, a 2016 American film, stole the show at the Gotham Awards ceremony, winning the award for being the best film of 2016. Moonlight also won an award for its screenplay and a jury award for its acting ensemble, as well as winning the audience award during the ceremony.
— MOONLIGHT Movie (@moonlightmov) February 3, 2017
The coming-of-age film focuses on the struggles faced by a Miami-based, gay, black man embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Moonlight‘s story unfolds in phases, as the audiences are taken through the childhood, teen years, and adulthood of Chiron, the protagonist of the film, played by Trevante Rhodes. Chiron’s character evolves from a young bullied boy to a weight-lifting masculine adult who hides his inner lonely persona by his outer macho appearance.
Rhodes has admitted that he found it rather strange to play Chiron because he is a naturally outgoing and social person in real life, while Moonlight‘s Chiron is depicted as an emotionally closed-off person. According to GQ, the actor spoke about the efforts he took to assume the role of his conflicted character.
“I walked around L.A. for three weeks with this disdain towards everybody that I saw. Feeling like I hated everyone because they were happy. Like little kids smiling — I hated them! I wanted to slap the sh*t out of them, because they had happiness and I didn’t.”
Moonlight was directed by Barry Jenkins, and its success might be considered by some as the triumph of liberal values in Hollywood. Earlier, prestigious awards like the Academy Awards have been embroiled in a race row as many celebrities protested the lack of diversity in the acting nomination.
— IndieWire (@IndieWire) February 9, 2017
However, Moonlight‘s nomination clearly reveals that the talents of filmmakers of color are being properly recognized this year, and the social issues depicted in their movies can prove to be eye-openers for people around the world.
Business Insider reported that, although La La Land is the front-runner to win the best picture award at the 2017 Oscars, Moonlight would be a much better choice. Referring to the Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling starring La La Land as a “pat fluff” film that “rewards viewers who recognize what’s pretty and vintage” and which was “practically designed for the Academy Awards,” the article takes an entirely different view of Moonlight.
“[Moonlight is] a revolutionary movie in the middle of what might turn out to be a revolutionary moment in American history.”
— MOONLIGHT Movie (@moonlightmov) January 24, 2017
Filmmaker Barry Jenkins has overcome the challenges faced by a black American artist while finding producers, marketers, and distributors. Earlier, Jenkins had won appreciation for directing Medicine for Melancholy, a low-budget independent film he also wrote.
Medicine for Melancholy was regarded as a transforming film that had an impact on its audience. Since he worked on Moonlight after an eight-year break, Jenkins was skeptical about the success of the film. However, the film has become hugely popula,r due to the word-of-mouth publicity, and it has earned around $10 million without a costly publicity campaign. According to the Los Angeles Times, Moonlight‘s director highlighted that films can provide an effective platform for bringing to light the issues that are often neglected.
“These are marginal people and marginal lives. It’s [great] there’s a platform to center these stories, because they’re needed now more than ever.”
Moonlight‘s director believes that the success of Moonlight is just a small step towards achieving the goal of eradicating Hollywood’s diversity problems. The director holds the opinion that the film industry will have to wait for at least eight more years to see changes taking place in the attitudes towards non-white filmmakers and actors.
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