Moonlight ★★★★★

I needed a second watch before I cemented MOONLIGHT at 5 stars. My suspicions proved true; this is not only the best film of 2016, but one of the best ever deconstructions of traditional masculinity you're likely to find. It's a Best Picture winner, shockingly - a tremendous winner made on a comparatively paltry budget. The sort of film that, though not necessarily paradigm shifting, feels deserving of hyperbolic praise for its sheer tenacity in being itself. MOONLIGHT is painstakingly honest, true, and instinctually poetic - finding artfulness wherever its lens settles. Though movement is ecstatically captured, it never ceases to be naturalistic - flurries of motion, shots hanging on the way eyes linger on other eyes, the camera exacerbating the emotions of its subjects. MOONLIGHT is abundantly visual, using its every capability. In a private Q&A I attended with FSU film students, Barry Jenkins elucidated what makes Moonlight work so well. Never was he shooting the script, but rather what was in front of him. Budget always informs the aesthetic of the film, but it need not compromise it. Writing can state what the character's are feeling on the interior, as long as the actors participate in the realizing of that character themselves. Make whatever you can, and learn when to cut. MOONLIGHT is stellar; a benchmark of empathetic filmmaking.

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