by Frederick H. Lowe
“Moonlight,” a beautifully told yet gut-wrenching coming of age film about a black boy growing into a teenager and a man, has been nominated for six Golden Globes, putting the movie on track to win an Oscar or Oscars.
The 74th Annual Golden Globes by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Monday nominated “Moonlight” for best motion picture for a drama. Barry Jenkins was nominated for best director. He also wrote “Moonlight.” Jenkins’ screenplay is based on the theatrical play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, a MacArthur Foundation winner. McCraney and Jenkins grew up in the same public housing project in Liberty City, a Miami neighborhood, where the movie takes place.
Mahershala Ali was nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in any motion picture, and Naomie Harris was nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in any motion picture.
Nicholas Britell was nominated for best original score for a motion picture.
“Moonlight” follows the life of Chiron who lives with his single, crack addicted mother Paula in Miami. He is played by three different actors–one as a young child, a teenager and a grown man.
Chiron can’t always go home because his mother tells him she’s got someone coming over. He sleeps on the subway and on the beach where he experienced sex with a man, a classmate, for the first time. The two meet again many years later as men, leading some to call it a love story. It is that and more.
Chiron, the teenager, also is afraid to leave the school because a gang of his classmates wait in the playground to beat him up because he is gay. In one very difficult scene, he stares out a school window watching them waiting. He waits them out and they eventually leave.
They call him a “faggot,” though he doesn’t know the meaning of the slur. Eventually they severely beat him.
Chiron takes his revenge on the leader by beating him with a chair. The movie audience jumps from their seats and cheer.
The movie’s characters don’t follow the expected script. Chiron is taken in by his mother’s drug dealer, played by Mahershala Ali, and his girlfriend, played by Janelle Monae.
A young Chiron asks Juan (Mahershala Ali) if he is a drug dealer. Juan answers yes. Chiron gets up from the dinner table and leaves the house.
Juan puts his head down in sorrow, realizing that he has sold drugs that have destroyed Chiron’s mother.
There are some light moments in this very serious movie. Chiron is so withdrawn that he rarely speaks. Monae’s character smiles and tells him, “I don’t care if you don’t talk to me. I don’t want to talk to you.” With that, an empathic connection was made between the two.
The line made the audience laugh and connect with Chiron, too, and that connection deepened through the film.