The Guardian: The 50 Best Films of 2016 in the US: No 1 Moonlight

Industry News

Ashton Sanders in Moonlight. Photograph: David Bornfriend/AP

Reprinted from The Guardian UK by Benjamin Lee on December 16, 2016.

“In an industry that still prefers a limited set of straight, white narratives above all else, the arrival of this ambitious, slow-burn drama was a game-changer,” writes Benjamin Lee in The Guardian UK.

“Telling the story of a gay black man coming to terms with his sexuality in three devastating chapters, it prioritised raw authenticity over minority-based cliches, and the result was like nothing we’ve ever seen. Director Barry Jenkins, adapting the loosely autobiographical play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, avoids drowning the deprived Miami setting in grimy stereotypes and dazzles viewers with unconventional, often poetic stylistic choices that never distract from the heartfelt narrative and flawless ensemble cast.

“Naturalistic performances by newcomer Trevante Rhodes, along with the House of Cards and Luke Cage breakout Mahershala Ali and 007 alumni Naomie Harris were all heartbreaking in their own unique ways, and Jenkins’ script tells their characters’ stories sensitively, never shying away from the realities of homophobia and addiction.

“It might initially be remembered for its groundbreaking diversity, but it is Moonlight’s heart-swelling humanity that lingers. It’s a film that gently argues for empathy, compassion, love and acceptance – a message that affects us all, regardless of sexuality or race. No other film in 2016 understood people quite as much as Moonlight did.”

The Guardian UK 12/16

About Jeffrey Burman 3284 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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