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If last night's Golden Globes results are anything to go by, and they usually are, La La Land is now the clear front-runner for Oscar success in just over a month's time. But while the all-singing and all-dancing crew that basically plagiarized Randy Newman's best song drew most of the plaudits, there was one huge victory over in the Best Motion Picture -- Drama category that went under the radar but was easily the most important triumph of the night, as Moonlight continued its rags to riches tale to claim the gong and, hopefully, expand its potential audience.
There's a good chance that you might have missed the hullaballoo regarding Moonlight, which tells the story of Chiron over the course of a 20 year period. At first we see Chiron when he's around 10 and dubbed Little, because of his introverted personality and size, who is roundly bullied by people of his same age. Local crack dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) offers Chiron advice and wisdom and solitude away from his emotionally abusive mother Paula (Naomie Harris). The film then moves several years ahead to Chiron as teenager, where he is again frequently bullied but finds solace from a close friend, and then to Chiron as an adult.
American cinema is peppered with films that are set in the same world and have similar characters to that of Moonlight. But what makes Moonlight so delightfully unique is its anti-Hollywood approach, and its sentimental viewpoint of this lifestyle and universe. Rather than looking to thwack his audience over the head with sensationalist plot points about violence, drugs, and abuse, director Barry Jenkins uses European cinematic approaches to patiently open up his characters and get right to the heart of them, while at the same time teasing the toils, conflicts, and dangers that always linger close by.
Moonlight is wonderfully understated, to such an extent that you as a viewer have to meet the film half way so that you can resonate with it and its characters. It doesn't scream or yell for attention, with its most vociferous moments coming in quick blasts that then expose Chiron even further. Considering we live in a time when the world has never felt more divided, and we seem to want to definitively label a person based on one trait, one remark, and lazily generalize huge sways of individuals, Moonlight is the sort of film that exposes the cruelty and dangers of such viewpoints, but does so in an utterly gorgeous and arresting fashion.
Things didn't originally look too good for Moonlight at the Golden Globes, though. After Mahershala Ali was cruelly overlooked in the Best Supporting Actor category in favour of Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals, it appeared as though Moonlight was going to just be one of the Golden Globes' many bridesmaids. But with committee favorite La La Land over in the Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy section, Moonlight always stood a fighting chance in the Drama field. Out of the other nominees, only Manchester By The Sea was deemed its main competitor, with Hacksaw Ridge, Hell Or High Water and Lion more than happy just to sit there quietly, eat fine food, and get drunk. That's what people do at the Golden Globes, right?
The outpouring of delight immediately after Sylvester Stallone allowed Karl Weathers to reveal Moonlight had won the Best Drama Golden Globe from the entire auditorium, which saw dozens upon dozens of people standing to their feet to applaud and celebrate, showed just how much the film had impacted people. Now let's hope that the rest of Hollywood stands up to the task of bringing more unheralded stories of similar ilk to the big-screen, because we really need them.