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Apr 18, 2017


Oscars so white –  the street name for 2016 Oscars stuck even if it was hosted by one of the best black comedians ever – Chris Rock. To wash off the guilt of 2016, in 2017 the Academy tried to redeem itself by rewriting its liberal spiel of embrace-all and promote-all and re-branded its diversity image with a few shades of black. These shades of black came in the form of Moonlight and Hidden Figures.

The winner of 2017 Best Picture Oscar Moonlight is a deeply personal story and a semi-autobiographical film from writer Tarrel McCraney. For the first time in the history of Oscars, a Best Picture Oscar went to a movie without a single white actor. Man, the Academy must have felt really really bad about last year. If black people knew about the Academy’s depth of remorse, we would have had a few more new directors and actors from the African American community.

Moonlight - a movie that was in incubation for a decade was adopted from McCraney's play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” Both director Barry Jenkins and Tarrel McCraney comes from the same Liberty City neighborhood where the young protagonist grow up in. The camera, the screen play and the tight editing works with stellar performers to deliver a  celluloid poem that keeps it real in the gritty urban landscape. This is the ultimate outsider movie, told bloody raw.

I think it also belongs to new (?) genre of movies sprouting up in Hollywood - 21st century American Realism. We have some socially aware film makers turning their cameras and keyboards on to the wrecked backdrop of  middle America, sliding determinedly into poverty, rage and hopelessness. The other recent film that comes to mind belonging to the genre is American Honey, released in the U.S almost at the same time as Moonlight.

As viewers we need all kinds of films - the ones that makes us laugh, the ones that make us cry, the ones that make us deepen our understanding about human condition, Moonlight belongs to the last category.