Moonlight is stepping into the awards season spotlight.
Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed portrait of a young black man growing up in Miami took home the award for Best Motion Picture – Drama at this year’s Golden Globes.
“As someone who went eight years without making a piece, I gotta give love to these people right here,” Jenkins said, thanking production company Plan B and distributor A24.
The filmmaker also thanked his mother, saying, “Denzel [Washington] says this in Fences, ‘I gave you everything, I gave you your life.’ Mom, you gave me my life, and I hope me being on this stage right now is the fulfillment of the life that you gave me.”
Backstage, Jenkins added that Moonlight was successful “not as escapism, but as realism.”
“They want to go into the cinema and see something real reflected,” he said. “All these films, they pre-date…no one could have anticipated that we would be sitting on the president-elect that we have coming into office in 12 days. However, we all made these films because we felt something was lacking in the soil at the root, these stories that haven’t been told, and I don’t know if it was that these two things were coming together at the same time, but we’re here now, and we have to give people things not to escape to — there’s room for escapism — but things that they can run to, that can reaffirm.”
One of the year’s best-reviewed films, Moonlight follows the life of a young man named Chiron in three acts, chronicling three different points in his path to adulthood. Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes all star as Chiron, and the film introduces the various characters who meet and influence him throughout his life, from the understanding drug dealer he turns to for advice (Mahershala Ali) to his drug-addicted mother (Naomie Harris).
Jenkins spoke to EW in December about working with Tarell Alvin McCraney to adapt his play into Moonlight and finding the right way to weave together the three separate acts.
“I thought if I could find these actors with the same eyes, the audience will connect to this guy’s soul,” he told EW. “The movie is working on this element of [how] the world is shaping these young men. And I think between each chapter, the world has shaped him so much that he’s almost become a different person.”
Moonlight’s Golden Globe win could spell good news for its Oscar chances, boosting its profile before the Academy Award nominations on Jan. 24. (One of its main competitors, La La Land, won best picture in the comedy or musical category.)
In all, Moonlight earned six Golden Globe nominations, including best director for Jenkins and supporting actor for Mahersshala Ali. In the best drama category, it beat out Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Lion, and Manchester by the Sea.