MOONLIGHT was a Sublime Masterpiece

I have been compiling my Top 20 lists for 2017 and realised I never ever reviewed MOONLIGHT, or I did and it somehow disappeared into the ether. I was mortified!! This was a film that is considered the best of 2016, even winning the Best Picture Oscar, following one of the biggest Oscar faux pas in history. How could I have missed reviewing it!! Now while it was considered a 2016 film for Oscar and American purposes, our lucky little country occasionally gets films a little late and this work of art didn’t release until the end of January in Australia, so for my own lists it’s a 2017 movie. It was released by Roadshow Films, was rated M and still runs for 111mins.


Moonlight Alex R. Hibbert image
Alex R. Hibbert




MOONLIGHT is the story of Chiron, a gay African-American boy from the Miami projects told through three chapters in his life, as a child, a teenager and then as a young man.

Chiron struggles with poverty, a drug-addicted mother, and being bullied for his sexuality, all the while trying to contend with expectations of what it means to be a poor black male in America and being boxed in by your circumstances.


Moonlight Alex R. Hibbert and Mahershala Ali image
Alex R. Hibbert and Mahershala Ali



Nearly a year on this masterpiece is still a work of pure timeless genius. Made for next to nothing it is the film made with the lowest budget (of all time on adjusted figures) to win an Oscar and also the first LGBTI film, and the first film featuring an all black cast, to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Such were the budgetary constraints on MOONLIGHT, the cast had to share one trailer for costume, hair and makeup and one rest room stall had to be shared by cast and crew.

And that scene where Chiron/ Little is learning to swim?! Alex R. Hibbert is actually being taught to swim by Mahershala Ali as he could not swim in real life. It gets even better when you hear Mahershala Ali is the first Oscar winner for Acting of Muslim faith. Reading all the trivia makes me warm and fuzzy!

All the praise and awards are worthy beyond a doubt. The restraint and subtlety in this powerful film is so incredibly moving I was flawed following the screening. It is one of those films I could not talk about for a few days as I needed it to absorb and process. The cleverness in the character driven story deserves a second best picture Oscar this year. MOONLIGHT is heavy, emotionally charged and heart breaking and at times so heart warming tears will just flow. I have the poster framed in my house and I need to own this one on Blu Ray.


Moonlight Ashton Sanders image
Ashton Sanders



Little, Chiron and Black are all the same person – Chiron is his actual name and the others are nicknames. The same coming of age story each played by different actors on the Journey. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes. Three actors that were superb and actually never met. Director Barry Jenkins wanted all the actors to build their own persona of Chiron without influence and it flows so seamlessly you can believe they are the same actor ageing in each part. Alex R. Hibbert was the best performance for me, it really punched my soul. Ashton Saunders’ performance was the most devastating and Trevante Rhodes will hurt the most to watch in Chiron’s redemption. It’s a beautiful circle of the character’s evolution that makes me emotional even writing about it now.

Mahershala Ali delivered a wonderful character as Juan – another heartbreaking character. One of pure love but at the same time shrouded in betrayal. Caught in a world of circumstance, a nice guy who at the same time is one of the worst. A terrible Catch 22 for Chiron that shapes the man he becomes. 

And there is one performance that needs to be praised beyond all others – Naomie Harris as Paula, Chiron’s mother, one of the most stand-out performances of the year. You will hate her beyond belief and she deserved an Oscar for it.


Moonlight Trevante Rhodes image
Trevante Rhodes



MOONLIGHT is a tragic redemption coming of age masterpiece. It is in my favourite movies of all time and while it is at times painful to watch it is one of the most superbly made movies of this generation. It released over a year ago, if you haven’t seen it get the DVD/ Blu Ray!





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.