The Moonlight movie is considered one of the best movies of the 21st century. Released in 2016 with an all-black cast, it is a coming-of-age story of a LGBTQ youth shown in three acts: Little, Chiron and Black. It was the first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBTQ film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. This uniquely written three act screenplay was written and directed by Barry Jenkins and was based on an unpublished play titled In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The plot follows young Chiron and his romantic interest, Kevin, at three points in their lifetime, with the adult versions in the last act played by Trevante Rhodes and André Holland. Singer and actor Janelle Monáe also stars as a Moonlight cast member, in the role of young Chiron’s substitute caregiver, Terresa, who lovingly cares for and affirms the boy when his abusive mother, Paula, cannot. Paula, played by Naomie Harris, struggles with addictions, and later apologizes for her shortcomings and failures as a mother. Check out various Moonlight screen facts below.
Lowest Budget of any Oscar Best Picture Winner
The only Best Picture winner with a smaller budget than Moonlight, which cost $1.5 million to make, was Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone. Rocky had a budget of $1.1 million and was released in 1976. If adjusted for inflation, Moonlight would be the cheapest Best Picture Oscar winner in history.
The Starring Characters Never Met Their Different Aged Counterparts
Moonlight takes place in three acts, each representing a different point in time in Chiron’s, the main character, life. Act 1, titled Little, represents his traumatic childhood. Act 2: Chiron, represents his pivotal adolescence, and Act 3, called Black, represents his homecoming and revelations. These three points in time show dramatic differences in who Chiron is and the acts are named after his nickname at the time.
Director Barry Jenkins wanted to further this difference in character by never letting the actors who played Chiron see each other or their counterparts’ performances. Jenkins wanted each period to represent a completely different version of Chiron and he wanted each actor to play the character in their own way without influence from their counterparts. Jenkins used the same strategy for the character of Kevin, who is also played by three different actors in each act.
Normally on film sets, makeup artists will prevent sweat and shine by using powdered foundations. To achieve a unique and authentic film experience, on the set of Moonlight, Jenkins had oil sprayed on the actor’s skin. This was done to highlight skin tone and sunlight in the movie as they were important to the desired visual. Jenkins aimed to recreate the shining black skin in sun soaking Florida he remembered from youth. The result was certainly unique and authentic, and it had a dreamy-long-held-memory quality to it as well.
On Location Filming
Both the screenplay writer, Barry Jenkins, and the original In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney, grew up in the neighborhood Liberty City in Miami. Liberty City is the setting of the film and the co-writers wanted to capture the experience of their childhood, which Jenkins states was an “awesome neighborhood where some very dark things happened.” The neighborhood is considered one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the United States and, for an authentic feel, the writers wanted specific location filming. Initially, the production crew was uncomfortable but once it became known Jenkins was from the neighborhood, the project was welcomed by residents with open arms. With Naomie Harris, who played Paula, saying she had never felt as at ease and comfortable on set as she did for Moonlight.