Half of the population yesterday was hooked to the television screen to witness the 89th Academy Awards.
The two most captivating and unforgettable cinematic experiences of 2016 were LA LA LAND and MOONLIGHT. The former, a charismatic and charming musical set in the ever-expanding city of Los Angeles, the latter, an arresting, gripping and nerve-racking tale of Chiron, the film’s black protagonist and his journey from childhood to an adult.
The world of social media was truly divided into two halves when the winner for the Best Picture was announced. In what turned out to be the biggest goof-up in the history of the Oscars, Barry Jenkins’ MOONLIGHT swept away the top honour.
Meticulously and tenaciously delving into the characters and storytelling of both the films, it isn’t surprising to say that Moonlight was a far superior film, in terms of its craftsmanship and emotional quotient.
The roller-coaster life of its central character is nightmarish and choking. From being bullied to a tumultuous relationship with his perpetually abusive mother, the childhood portions alone are enough to make this film a tear-jerker.
Not many films have essayed the plights and struggles of The Black People. Remember Nelson Mandela’s endless battle to fight Apartheid? The historic figure was imprisoned for a staggering 26 years, only because he wanted South Africa to be a country of Blacks, as much as it was of the Whites.
Moonlight’s biggest strength was the pitch-perfect casting. All the three actors (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) deliver flesh and blood performances. Oozing sincerity and pumping life into Chiron, they gave us an experience that was true-blue posterity stuff.
Coming to La La Land, it was unquestionably one of the most gorgeously mounted musicals. With some breathtaking set pieces and a scorching chemistry between the leads, it was one helluva joyride. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone made their respective characters’ happiness, joy, pain and even heartbreak fully palpable. A rare cinematic viewing that makes one smile and cry.
But, are you sure a film like this offers something we haven’t seen before?
Drawing comparisons between these diametrically different genres, one a romantic musical and the other a rousing drama, the one that really delivers a punch and leaves a lump in your throat, it’s Moonlight.
Hollywood can effortlessly make another musical, this time perhaps in Paris. But how soon will they capture the sufferings and struggles of the Blacks?
Let’s wait for the next year’s Oscars.