MOONLIGHT

MOONLIGHT is the most powerful movie I've seen this year. As widely reviewed, the acting, writing, directing, and cinematography are all remarkable, but the film was also sonically brilliant. The score was minimal and disciplined; unlike so many modern movies whose overbearing score hits over the head with the orchestral hammer, exhorting us to to feel sad, or scared, or triumphant.

And then there were the needle drops; my favorite being the use of Goodie Mob's "Cell Therapy." The ominous piano intro and booming bottom, brought to us by Organized Noize, signaled Chiron's transition and chapter in ATL's dirty south. And finally, the quietude and silence. Barry Jenkins did not feel the need to fill up every dialogue with words, understanding that the unspoken can be just as, if not more powerful, than the words uttered.

The film is a ultimately a love story--one of unrequited love, depicted as masterfully as in REMAINS OF THE DAY and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. The dull and constant ache of longing for a fruit which is forbidden but in painful proximity is portrayed with deft constraint by the amazing Trevante Rhodes. And bravo to Mahershala Ali, whose range, I've not witnessed in short order: from the relatively two-dimensional comic book villain Cottonmouth in LUKE CAGE, to the deliciously complicated and nuanced father figure here.

I look forward to seeing the film be rewarded many times over next award season.