Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ drama about three stages in the life of a young, gay black man growing up in Miami, was the big winner at the 26th annual Gotham Awards on Monday night.
Barry Jenkins’ extraordinary drama Moonlight — which is playing in select cities and adding more theaters every weekend — is such an embarrassment of riches in terms of the ensemble acting that it’s difficult to pick an MVP. The story of a Miami boy named Chiron coming to terms with his sexual identity over three different periods in his life, Moonlight features at least no less than 10 astonishingly nuanced supporting performances.
Ashton Sanders’ performance in Barry Jenkins’ revelatory triptych Moonlight is all about risk. The 20-year old, best known for a small role in Straight Outta Compton, plays Chiron, a gay teenager experiencing his sexual awakening within the unaccepting, hyper-masculine world of Miami’s poverty-stricken Liberty City neighborhood.
As four wide releases duke it out for the no. 1 spot at the domestic box office, one film shines on the specialty front as one of 2016’s best-reviewed titles: Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.
About a third of the way into Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ introspective three-part story about a gay black man named Chiron, Chiron — then a little boy called, well, “Little” (Alex R. Hibbert) — goes to the beach with Juan (Mahershala Ali), a Cuban-American drug dealer-turned-father figure to him. There, Juan teaches him how to swim. It’s a euphoric sequence, a moment that punctuates a chapter in Little’s life and stays with him.
When we look back on our lives, trying to figure out how we wound up where we are and who we are, there’s a tendency to focus on a few events that, in retrospect, are weighted with course-determining significance. Like snapshots, these pivotal moments get edited together in our minds. We become the directors and stars of our own biopics. That’s also the approach that writer-director Barry Jenkins has taken in his new coming-of-age story, Moonlight — easily one of the most personal and most powerful films of the year.
Moonlight is generating a substantial amount of awards season buzz ahead of its Oct. 21 release date, and the film’s cast tells EW it’s all for good reason.
As crime boss Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes on Marvel’s Luke Cage, Mahershala Ali plays the opposite of a superhero, but in real life he has to be at least a little superhuman. The actor worked seven days a week for six weeks last year, bouncing between Baltimore, New York, and Miami to simultaneously film three projects: Netflix’s House of Cards and Luke Cage as well as the indie drama Moonlight. “My manager was worried about me,” the 42-year-old actor admits. “It was a little bit of a crucible, a rite of passage, you know?
Take your first look at what promises to be one of the real indie gems of this coming fall movie season. Director Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is about three phases in the life of a man named Chiron, chronicling the struggles he is experiencing with both his sexuality and the people in his life while growing up in Miami.
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