In just a few days, awards season will officially be in full swing in Hollywood. Beginning with the Critics Choice Awards 2016 on December 11 and ending with the prestigious Academy Awards (aka Oscars) 2017 on February 26th, keep your remote control and popcorn handy because movie time is here! Already there are popular favorites coming out of all the feature films we’ve seen this year, and the Gotham Awards 2016 picked it’s decided best for the night – Spotlight. Though it tilts towards the indie genre, the impact that it has had over audiences, judges and critics alike is making it take the spotlight. If you haven’t watched it yet, make sure you do as soon as possible, so you don’t miss out on a fantastic work of art.
To begin with, Spotlight covers two social topics that have been at the forefront in headlines this past year, and in fact for decades now – blacks and homosexuality. Imagine putting together these two controversial elements to create something that probably wouldn’t have even been allowed to be aired during the timeframe the story takes place. Spotlight is the story of the life of Chiron, a black boy dealing with his difficult life and personal struggles. The movie is based on the Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.
It starts off with a young boy, Chiron who is bullied in childhood for his small size by other boys. One night, he is rescued by a crack dealer by the name of Juan who takes him home to his girlfriend, Teresa. After allowing him to spend the night there, he is taken back to his home where we are introduced to his crack addict mother, Paula, who it turns out gets her drugs from Juan. With a hopeless situation Chiron faces in school and at home, he takes comfort in a fellow student called Kevin. They indulge in juvenile behavior towards homosexuality. The first part ends with Chiron telling his mother he hates her and confronting Juan about his drug dealing ways.
The second part takes off with Chiron, now a teenager, continuing to be bullied by his peers. At home, his mother continues spiralling downwards with her addiction to crack. Chiron spends more time with Teresa, though Juan is now no more. Then one day the situation arises where Kevin is told by one of Chiron’s biggest tormentors to beat Chiron until he can’t get up. Though Kevin’s blows are not that fierce, the rest of the gang finish the job for him. In revenge, Chiron assaults the lead attacker and is arrested, to be sent away to juvie. Kevin watches him leave in a police car. End of part two.
Part three takes over with Chiron, now a full-grown adult. He has assumed the lifestyle of former crack dealer, Juan, probably the only father figure he had in his life. Chiron is himself a dealer, living in a big house and driving the same car. He soon gets a call from Kevin, who isn’t so fortunate in his life, being a server and cook in a local diner in Miami. Chiron drives down, first meeting with his mother who asks for his forgiveness and comes to terms with the effects her addiction had on her son’s childhood. When he meets up with Kevin, the reunion isn’t as exciting as it had earlier been, though Chiron admits he hasn’t been romantically involved with anyone since his and Kevin’s teenage trysts. They finally reconcile.
The movie ends with the child Chiron, blue under the moonlight.
Trevante Rhodes as Chiron
André Holland as Kevin
Janelle Monáe as Teresa
Naomi Harris as Paula
Mahershala Ali as Juan
Patrick Decile as Terrel
Moonlight first premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September. It was again screened at the Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. It was released worldwide on November 4, 2016.
The film has received critical acclaim, having already claimed four awards at the Gotham Awards 2016. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a massive 98% rating. According to one critic: “The film urges the viewer to look past Chiron’s outward appearance and his superficial signifiers of identity, climbing inside familiar stereotypes in order to quietly dismantle them from within. Moonlight doesn’t say much…it says everything.”