Pop Culture and Politics

Best Picture: “Moonlight”, My Honest and Unbiased Review (Spoiler Alert)

I wanted to take some time to let the Oscars resonate with me. I really wanted to take the actual time to watch the movies that were nominated, and then create my own opinion. The media and the internet cause so many mixed reactions; there are so many different viewpoints shoved in your face that sometimes it’s really hard to create your own. It becomes too easy to get caught up in what everyone else is saying and thinking.

With all of the virtue signaling that is going around with this last election and the current political climate, the main reaction that I was hearing is that Moonlight was a boring, drawn out movie about black homosexuals. I watched the other movies that were nominated and I certainly didn’t think they were that powerful, so I gave Moonlight a chance and I watched it, with a completely open mind. Am I a little bit skeptical because of the current political climate, especially when Hollywood has done nothing but pander recently? Of course. I would never want to take away the integrity of any artist, actor, or director by giving them an award based solely on what was pandering the most to social injustices, this doesn’t do anyone any favors. Just like how I would never want anyone to hand me anything just because I am a minority woman.

So here it is…. here is my true, real reaction to Moonlight.

Moonlight fell nothing short of brilliant. It was gut wrenchingly raw, sad, emotional, and took me to all of those places I didn’t necessarily think were possible. All three actors that played Chiron were dedicated and convinced me. I have never felt so much sadness and loneliness for one character in a film. I almost felt like I was living the life of young Chiron. After watching the movie, I really let his character sit with me over the last 48 hours and he genuinely left a lasting impression on me. Can one even begin to imagine the amount of loneliness a young black man, with a crackhead single mother, who is bullied for being homosexual, with no friends must feel? You cannot imagine it. But that’s exactly what Moonlight put into perspective for me. And to think that this tale is not impossible, that this is an untold story that is happening out there, right now. It makes my heart heavy.

Theresa and Juan’s characters made me think about all of the adults that it took to make me who I am today, that it truly takes adults from all walks of life and integrity to make a lasting impression on a child. Chiron was really lacking that positive male role in his life, he was lacking that base and strength, and he found it in a street drug dealer that taught him how to swim, how to look out for himself, and how to tap into his inner strength that he wasn’t aware of. All of the metaphors in the movie were perfectly rounded and generously placed. The use of symbolism and color, the way blue symbolized some personal form of solace for Chiron and in contrast red symbolized his internal rage and angst toward his life and the cards that he was dealt. The one night where the ocean seemed so vast that anything seemed possible.

Not only did this movie put into perspective an untold contemporary American story, it also makes you grateful. I think that is what these movies really do in the end, to shed light on a heartbreaking reality that isn’t yours. It made me sympathetic, wiser, and grateful. Only a great movie can do this for a person and I am definitely not the same after watching it. I re-watched several scenes and discussed it, thought over it, looked for more symbolism, really took time to watch the interactions between the different characters. I am moved and put this movie at the top of my list of movies ever made.

The writers and the direction of the story didn’t paint a fairy tale ending, they ended it with how things usually turn out. Juvenile detention and life led down a certain path that almost seems inevitable for young black men brought up in that environment. It left me wondering what ended up happening with his emotional life. Did he finally find comfort and love? Did he finally become okay with his past and confront those horrific memories that appear in his dreams every night? Did he finally feel that he got the level of respect that he deserved, from his mother? Obviously he had found other forms of receiving respect, via the streets, but you see someone who is worth so much more than that as you watch him grow up throughout the movie. You cheer for him and want him to choose a life or a path that would provide so much more for his hindering spirit. You also see the disappointment in Kevin’s eyes when he realizes someone that he has so much love for became something different, that one day of bad choices ended up having drastic consequences for everyone involved. What would the fairytale ending really be for Chiron?

After several discussions about the movie, all I could really find myself saying was, “I just feel so bad for him.” I felt and feel his loneliness, the obstacles that he had to overcome and the ones that he never overcame, his lack of emotional relationships and love after Juan died. This is a tale of a life that is truly heart breaking and difficult, at some points just down right scary. The more that I read and watch stories like these, it changes me a little bit to be more considerate of what people are going through, because much like Manchester by the Sea, these are all stories that are possible and happening to people out there. It’s not that much of a stretch of imagination to think that there are 10 year old little boys in the ghetto boiling hot water to place in the tub so they can take a bath, or that their crackhead mother used the last of their money to buy drugs so he doesn’t own a pair of jeans that fit him.

I loved this movie and I hope that everyone involved continues to put out masterpieces like this. In my humble opinion, it would have been an injustice if this movie did not win Best Picture…. And that’s me not pandering.

 

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