Note: As Moonlight continues to gain traction and awards buzz ahead of its nationwide release November 4, check out our Q+A from #NYFF with director Barry Jenkins
After opening last week in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, Moonlight has been making massive waves in the film industry. Not only is the movie tremendous—perhaps the year’s best, argues A.O. Scott, in The New York Times—but it’s got audiences wildly excited as well, scoring $103,685 per theater in its opening weekend, good for the year’s very best opening average. It overtakes the roughly $92,000 that comedian Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice opened to this summer.
The filmchronicles the life of Chiron, a War-on-Drugs era Miami boy, in three chapters. It delves into relationships, self-discovery, drugs, and addiction—not the typical movie to attract massive audiences. But with significant buzz surrounding it now—including a 99% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes—Moonlight is ripe for a wider box office success, and early indications are that it could do so. With the support of A24, which has given smaller films significant pushes in the awards season, Moonlight looks poised for a good run.
Moonlight tells a story that doesn’t always get told. With an all-black cast, visually-stunning filmmaking, and a fresh story, it is also a breath of fresh air. After this, it would be a travesty if hashtag #OscarsSoWhite continued. The film gifts us with an intense and nuanced first act performance from Mahershala Ali, a breathtaking third act from André Holland, and a heartbreaking turn throughout the film from Naomie Harris. All of them are worthy of major acting awards—and this is not even to mention the brilliant work of Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes, who play Chiron in the three distinct phases of his life.
When leaving Moonlight—and, yes, you 100% have got to see this movie—you’ll likely be unable to do more than sit back in awe of what you’ve just seen. The film’s striking final shot is true breathtaking finale. This is far from a typical film, even in Oscar season, and can’t be treated as such. Previous years have seen small films like The Artist and Room catch on—still, this is different in kind. This movie has a meaning. This movie has a purpose. You may ask yourself: Why does Moonlight deserve more?
Well, for that, there’s a simple answer: it is more, and that much better.