Last but not least is the little film that could. Moonlight seems to have come out of nowhere to become a sensation across film festivals. The few theatres that showed it took every opportunity to play it for audiences, at times playing it on two screens. What makes this film special enough to end up on nearly every top 10 movies of 2016 lists? Besides the lowkey yet powerful storytelling, excellent performances and themes of growing up, this coming of age tale of a boy growing up gay and black in Miami is beautiful in every way. With strong empathy, Director Barry Jenkins pulls us into this boy’s life, leading us on haunting journey.
When we first meet Little (Alex R. Hibbert), he’s a nine-year-old being chased by bullies, taking shelter in an abandoned apartment. That’s where he comes to meet Juan (Mahershala Ali, also in Hidden Figures), a kind, soft spoken drug dealer who slowly becomes Little’s father figure. His role in Little’s life get called into question when Juan is appalled to find Little’s mom Paula (Naomie Harris) smoking crack. At the same time, Little finds a friend in Kevin (Jaden Piner), a fellow classmate who encourages his friend to stand up for himself.