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Everything You Need To Know About Oscar Best Picture Winner ‘Moonlight’

First and foremost, Oscar winner Mahershala Ali plays a sensitive crack dealer
by Anton D. Umali | Feb 27, 2017
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So Moonlight just won the Oscar for best picture, albeit in a manner reminiscent of Steve Harvey’s clusterfuck at the Miss Universe 2015 proceedings. Sorry, La La Land, but thank you Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway for that awesomely awkward senior moment (PricewaterhouseCoopers, the official accountant of the Academy Awards just owned up to the mistake with a statement).

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The annoying movie musical that stars now-Oscar winner Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in a—SPOILER ALERT!—failed romance undeservedly stole all the attention prior to the actual awarding ceremony. Moonlight, a film with smaller roots, a relatively unknown cast, and less of a commercial appeal sat in the background, waiting patiently to make its presence felt. And since it was able to deservedly upset the hot mess that is La La Land for the year’s highest prize, audiences need to learn more about this touching flick, its origins, and its contributions to the movie books.

Read up, then try to catch this flick if you can. It is, after all, now a multi-Oscar winner.   

It’s a coming of age tale about a gay black boy

Park your expectations when you finally decide to watch Moonlight. The film, which is simultaneously sad, heartfelt, and gritty, uniquely portrays the life of an African American man unlike anything that’s ever been done before. It tells the story of Chiron, a young black kid who must navigate his own identity amidst the trappings of poverty and masculinity in the downtrodden streets of a drug-ridden Miami. 

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It was inspired by the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney

It also bagged the best adapted screenplay statue, which is an amazing feat for director Barry Jenkins, who also penned the script.

It uses a three-part storytelling method

Told through three important vignettes from the the life of the protagonist, Moonlight works just as much as three standalone short films as it does as a feature length one. Titled “i. Little,” “ii. Chiron,” and “iii. Black,” each specific time in the main character’s life adds a layer to the overall arc of his journey.  

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The protagonist is played by three actors

As the story is delivered in three stages, it’s only fitting that three different thespians all fill the shoes of this complicated character. In his childhood he is played by young actor Alex Hibbert, in his teen years by newcomer Ashton Sanders, and in adulthood by Trevante Rhodes.

Oscar winner Mahershala Ali plays a sensitive crack dealer

The House of Cards regular bagged his first nomination and Oscar for his captivating turn as Juan, a drug dealer with a heart of gold. In “i. Little,” Ali takes the troubled Chiron under his wing, providing reprieve from the kid’s crack-addicted mother. It’s a performance that is equal parts vulnerable and strong, blurring the lines between father figure, role model, and the dregs of society. Ali, who gave a heartwarming speech during his Oscar acceptance, is the epitome of the modern-day character actor—one who is eloquent, talented, and capable of bridging social divides through his work.

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Janelle Monae and Naomie Harris costar

Both play older female figures in Chiron’s life—the former a kind pseudo-mother, and the latter his biological mom who is damaged because of her crack addiction. 

It has humble beginnings

Back in 2008, director Barry Jenkins made an independent film entitled Medicine for Melancholy, which was done on a budget of $15,000. And with the critically acclaimed Moonlight, Jenkins has cemented himself as one of today’s most visionary filmmakers. 

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