Moonlight-poster*I saw the Academy Award-winning Moonlight for the first time at the beginning of its initial run in theaters, last fall. I walked into a screening of the movie with every intention of reviewing it.

I walked out having been profoundly moved, forever changed, and temporarily muted. I simply couldn’t find the words to describe the movie.

I’d not felt that way after seeing a film since Precious, another film with honest, gritty performances, flawed, human characters that commanded my attention, and a character arc that left me literally exhausted and speechless. I felt the same way after seeing Monster’s Ball and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Dreamgirls.

In all of those prior cases, the films went on to win Academy Awards, and I’d accurately predicted them. In the case of Monster’s Ball, I knew that if Halle Berry hadn’t gone on to win the Oscar for Best Actress, it would have been due to racism in the industry. Berry’s performance, particularly a critical scene during which her character is processing an unfathomable loss, earned that trophy.

Similarly, after watching Moonlight, I called Mahershala’s Oscar, the screenplay award, and the Oscar for Best Picture. I knew if Moonlight didn’t win on Oscar night, homophobia — not racism — would have been the primary culprit.

 as "Juan' in Moonlight

Mahershala Ali as “Juan’ in Moonlight

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