As always in August, and after the disappointments of the summer movie season, there are a slew of hyped films moviegoers and critics are looking forward to in the fall. This year that means Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women” or even Nate Parker’s “The Birth of A Nation” which has been under wraps since its Sundance premiere, among others. There are also movies set to surprise such as two that ended up providing unexpected Best Actress winners: “Still Alice” in 2014 or “Room” last year. A24 was the studio behind the latter of those two releases and if the trailer for “Moonlight” is any indication it may have another awards season player to enter the fray.
Directed and written by Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight” is an adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” It’s also the first film production A24 has guided as an independent company from start to finish although having Brad Pitt’s Plan B (“12 Years A Slave,” “Selma”) on board as producers doesn’t hurt. Jenkins, who earned Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards nods for 2008’s “Medicine for Melancholy,” has recruited a noteworthy ensemble to tell the tale including Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris, Andre Holland, Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monae.
“Moonlight” centers on three chapters in the life Florida native Chiron. It follows him from the age of 10, as high school teenager and an adult man. It feels wrong to label “Moonlight” the African American “Brokeback Mountain,” but to many in the African American Gay community it my be that poignant a tale. Will it play with Oscar voters? Many doubted that “Room” could and A24 proved them wrong. After Telluride (not official, but obvious at this point), Toronto and New York Film Festivals we’ll see just how far Jenkins’ passion project can go down the Oscar road.
Happily for anyone not attending the aforementioned festivals, “Moonlight” begins its theatrical release on Oct. 21. Watch the trailer below and let me know what you think on twitter @TheGregoryE