Nathaniel R reporting from the Toronto Film Festival
I'll need more time to process Moonlight, a stunning triptych about a black gay man named Chiron at three stages in his life (played by Alex R Hibbet as a child, Ashton Sanders as a teenager, and Trevante Rhodes as an adult). A full review then is yet to come. Barry Jenkins' film inspired by the play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" is beautifully calibrated to explore its central theme of finding your identity. It provides no easy answers as to how to do that and no simple catharsis which could make it a difficult sell. If anyone is up to the task it's the distributor A24 who will platform release the film beginning on October 21st.
As to the reductive topic of all the Oscar buzz, I am uncertain. Yes, it's going to be a huge critical success and some people's favorite of the year. Barry Jenkins has most definitely announced himself as a exciting formidable writer/director. Yes the cast is performing the material gorgeously particularly Mahershala Ali as a complex father figure to Chiron in the first act, and Trevante Rhodes who pulls all the Chiron's together with heartbreaking interiority in the last act. (Of note: Naomie Harris as Chiron's drug-addicted mother is the only actor to appear in all three chapters but she's impactful each time). But, how to put this... it's definitely an art film that's going to work best for audience members for whom identity politics resonate (*raises hand*). It's also a double minority story about being black and gay.
Oscar is, rather infamously, a majority instution if you get me. They normally need some "in" for LGBT or black stories, in the form of an already renowned director for the former or a famous historical event or famous actor in celebrity bio or some such for the latter. We'll see.
I repeat: If anyone is up to the task it's the distributor A24!