The Cast and Crew of Moonlight

If you know me, or even spend five minutes talking to me you will realize I love movies. Of all the movies I saw this year none was better than Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins. I had the pleasure of seeing it at the Toronto International Film Festival and I was blown away by this cinematic wonder.

It tells the tale of a young black man from childhood to adulthood and shows the struggles he goes through growing up in his circumstances. On paper (or on screen) it doesn’t sound like anything revolutionary. We have seen ‘coming of age’ pieces before but not like this. Barry Jenkins, in his breakout directorial hit, has directed an amazing ensemble to some of the finest work I have seen in a long time. This 37 year old from Miami, where the movie is set, has revealed a part of America that is rarely seen. He has demonstrated to us how someone can be the product of their environment and how they can be torn by positive and negative forces.

This movie, based on the play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, is taking critics by storm. With a budget of only $5 million it is proving the old adage you don’t need to be a blockbuster to be the best.  Among the awards this film is collecting you can include AFI Top 10 of 2016, Best Film by multiple critics associations, Best Ensemble from the Critics Choice Awards, National Board of Review – Top 10 Films of 2016, and many, many, many more.

Put it this way, the #OscarsoWhite campaign will be DOA this year. There is no way on earth that Moonlight can be overlooked by the most prestigious awards for film.

People ask the question: who is in it? The answer isn’t what one might expect. It isn’t Denzel, or Halle, or even Oprah. No it’s a collection of new actors and older actors who, until now, haven’t shown us their best work. They were waiting for Mr. Jenkins to bring it out. The cast includes Naomie Harris. Some may recall her as Moneypenny from the recent James Bond movies. She had a decent year with performances in ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ and ‘Collateral Beauty’ but it is her work in this film as a drug addicted mother that will most likely get her an Academy Award nomination, her first. Then there is Janelle Monae who most of us know as an accomplished R&B singer. Her role in Moonlight though has left no doubt that Ms. Monae has more than one skillset she can rely on. And how about Mahershala Ali? He has already started collecting awards for his portrayal of Juan, the drug dealer who becomes a father figure to the central character. We have seen him in roles on shows like ‘House of Cards’, ‘Luke Cage’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ but it is his amazing work in Moonlight that should get him his first Oscar nomination.

In addition to this amazing cast, the sets, cinematography, editing and overall script are so impressive. The movie was shot in 25 days. Naomie Harris filmed her role in 3 days in between days off from her simultaneous promotional tour of ‘Spectre’.

I see a lot of movies. Some very good, some not so much. Every now and then a movie comes along that leaves you glued to your seat even after it’s over. You aren’t jumping up to go on with the next thing in your life but you are taking a moment to absorb what you have just seen. Moonlight is that kind of a movie. I was beyond impressed with this film. These are the reasons why I find the cast and crew of Moonlight fascinating.