In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb world 9

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

This is a movie that’s annoying in part because it doesn’t care if you’re annoyed by it. It doesn’t need you, the individual viewer, to…

Thumb tag poster

Tag

A lazy, vulgar celebration of White Male American Dumbness.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Primary moonlight

If We Picked the Winners 2017: Best Director

In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see what they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. Here, Brian Tallerico makes the case for the Best Director of 2016: Barry Jenkins for "Moonlight."


It’s not only that Barry Jenkins directed the best film of 2016. The winner for Best Director and Best Picture don’t necessarily need to match up. It’s not only that his competition in this category could have been stronger (no Martin Scorsese? Really?) It’s not only the important message it would send in 2017 to award a black man an Oscar for Best Director for the first time in film history. Sure, all of these factors played a role in our decision to assert that Jenkins should win on Sunday, but it is primarily because of the work right up there on the screen—the fluid storytelling, the blend of the lyrical & the realistic, the ability to make the specific feel universal, the pitch-perfect work with ensemble, the use of music, the tactile sense of setting. It’s not just one of the best-directed films of 2016 but of the decade.

Advertisement

Consider if you will all the places that “Moonlight” could have gone wrong. First and foremost, it is a film divided into three chapters, in which a different performer plays the same character, and yet it never feels episodic. We believe that Little (Alex Hibbert), Chiron (Ashton Sanders) and Black (Trevante Rhodes) are the same person, and we do so because of Jenkins’ direction—his visual choices that tie the chapters together and the way he directs his performers to echo each other without mimicking. He connects the chapters with a visual and emotional language in a way that allows us to never doubt or question that these three performers are playing the same person. The movie falls apart without that skill.

“Moonlight” strikes that amazing balance between personal memory and traditional storytelling. Jenkins allows us to never get pushed away by the specificity of it all, knowing that the film is stronger if it brings us into Terrell McCraney’s personal story instead of trying to make it “something for everyone.” This is Chiron’s story. That you can see yourself in it or feel its emotions is because of the truth of it and Jenkins' ability to turn truth into poetry.


Popular Blog Posts

Five Ways to Save Star Wars

The suggestions in this article are worth 10 billion dollars.

Dark Souls Remastered Wants to Make You Cry This Summer

A review of Dark Souls Remastered, a game so good it will make you cry.

Thumbnails Special Edition: Where Are Our Diverse Voices in Film Criticism

A special edition of Thumbnails spotlighting the efforts being made to amplify diverse voices in film criticism follo...

The Real-Life Fictions of The Tale and American Animals

Through their films’ unique narrative and visual styles, Jennifer Fox and Bart Layton expose how fiction is a fundame...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus