Length: 111 minutes / 1.85 hours
Based on the surprise win of Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, I had high expectations for Moonlight (2016). There were some fantastic, motivational, and inspirational films in the running for this award, including the “follow your dreams” story of La La Land (2016), the “communication is key” story of Arrival (2016), and the “overcoming adversity” story of Hidden Figures (2016). So, what did Moonlight have to offer? In my opinion, not much; but maybe that was because I’m a straight white (you could argue, privileged) male and there was little to relate to in this film.
Sure, the cinematography was impressive at times, but there wasn’t any story that I felt was impactful enough to warrant its award. I will give credit to Mahershala Ali, as his performance was certainly deserving of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. So, what lessons does Moonlight give us? Do we need to find good mentors in life? A nurturing home life can prevent many problems? Life is hard, get over it? It seems to me that these lessons are self-explanatory. If anything, this movie should give an emphasis to parents. If you’re a mother, don’t do drugs. If you’re a father, be there for your family.
As is usually the case with most Best Picture winners, I can’t help but think that this movie won because something else should have won before. If you want a better “coming of age” film, Boyhood (2014) had a much more impressive production. If you want a better “coming out” film, Brokeback Mountain (2005) could fill that spot. If you want a better “black” film, Do the Right Thing (1989) is a fantastic example. Maybe it’s the combination of its parts; I don’t know. What worries me the most is the thought that this film won because of the social pressures put upon the Oscars from last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Should a sub-par film win just so the Academy can prove that they have “diversity”? But again, I’m just a privileged, straight, white guy, so maybe I just don’t get it.
An OK movie with nothing significantly new to offer, I give Moonlight 3.0 stars out of 5.