Never mind the old Chris Rock routine about how Martin Luther King Boulevards across America invariably tend to be especially violent — there’s a great honor in having a street named after you. It’s a concrete way to leave your mark on the world long past the point of your passing, a symbol of accomplishment that nobody can take away from you. Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood is home to Do the Right Thing Way, a commemoration of Spike Lee’s essential chronicle of one explosive day on the streets. And now, another black filmmaker of great vision and skill will receive this special distinction in parts due south.
Sound the alarm: TV has landed yet another of the movies’ best and brightest. Hot off the (chaotic) Oscar win for Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins will next go to work at Amazon, writing and directing a new drama series based on Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.
A small budget indie movie about black queer romance was named Best Picture at the Oscars on Sunday night. Let that sink in for a moment.
It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that I finally found time to catch Moonlight in theaters, so you’ll excuse me if the buzz around Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney’s film hasn’t quite worn off yet. Moonlight isn’t just a powerful story of one person’s struggle with his sexuality, it is also one of the most powerfully acted and beautifully shot films of the decade. In my professional opinion as a film critic, we should just throw awards at that movie until both filmmakers are forced to move into bigger houses just to store them all. That’s my professional opinion, mind you.
The 90 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press are always an unpredictable bunch of awards season voters, but that made predictions for the 2017 Golden Globes’ Best Motion Picture Drama award even more uncertain. The awards race has been a close one this year between Manchester By the Sea and Moonlight (and especially close in the Drama category at the Globes with other frontrunner La La Land in the Comedy category). But this year the HFPA decided to honor the Kenneth Lonergan film / the Barry Jenkins film with the top drama prize.
Is there a more stressful month for film fans than December? Not only are most of us trying to stay on top of our normal holiday stress — picking up gifts for our family and friends and dreading time spent in airports and train stations — we are also trying to fit in as many movies as possible before the end of the year. Whether you write about film, participate in an office Academy Award pool, or just like watching good movies, there’s nothing like cramming movies into every spare second of an already packed mo
The end-of-year cavalcade of awards bestowments and ranked lists continues apace today, with one of the more prestigious critical bodies weighing in. Sight and Sound, the official film magazine of the BFI, runs an annual poll of United Kingdom-based writers and compiles a list of the year’s 20 finest films from the results. (Naturally, their cutoff dates for what qualifies as a “2016 release” are based on British release dates, which is how Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper landed on this list, though it will receive a U.S. run in the spring.) It’s a nicely balanced list well-stocked with festival favorites, but the most notable (and heartening) aspect of the ranking must be the strong showing from female filmmakers, who make up three of the top five selections.
Awards season, that glorious time of year when works of moving art are made to fight for our amusement and betting-pool glory, lurched into gear last night with the Gotham Independent Awards. A sort of east coast counterpart to Los Angeles’ Independent Spirit Awards, the program recognizes the finest achievements in indie film over the previous year, as selected by the members of the Independent Filmmaker Project. For the past two years, the IFP’s Best Feature designation has effectively predicted the film that will receive the Best Picture Academy Award a couple months later. If that happens to be the case again this year, the Oscar future looks bright — and refreshingly black.
Barry Jenkins‘ Moonlight is already being called one of the best movies of the year, and not without reason. It’s a visual feast quaking with beauty and sadness, a hushed poem of pain and romance, and a piece of filmmaking that feels more alive . But most people will also be talking about Moonlight for its actors, and its triads of shattering, magnetic performances.
A raw, exquisite portrait of young black masculinity, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight follows one life through three stages to tell a story of repressed desires and internalized suffering. Across three chapters we watch Chiron, a young South Florida boy, grow into a teen and later into a nearly unrecognizable man, as he seeks to understand the various shades of his identity.