6 Films “Moonlight” Fans Should Watch
Barry Jenkin’s "Moonlight" (2016) shook the world after its memorable Best Picture win against Damien Chazelle’s "La La Land" (2016). Being not only the first all-black film to win Hollywood’s prestigious award, but also the first LGBT film, the coming-of-age masterpiece has officially cemented itself into film history.
Moonlight is as a permanent game changer in both mainstream and independent filmmaking. The film’s success is remarkable and the popularity of its narrative marks a notable turning point in film history. However, similar films in the industry are constantly glossed over or simply ignored, be it due to controversy or a lack of a wide release. Barry Jenkins isn’t alone in his tasteful vision. Below you will find films with similar ideas of identity, race, sexual orientation, and romance similar to that of the beloved Moonlight.
Chungking Express (1994)
Dir: Wong Kar-wai
How can you sum up an entire relationship in a single scene using only a toy airplane? One of Barry Jenkins’ primary inspirations, Chungking Express (1994) is the foundational work of Hong Kong’s famed auteur Wong Kar-wai, a modern visionary in every conveyable aspect. The dual-story film challenges not only the idea of loss, redemption, and need, but also global perspectives, making use of stunning juxtapositions, desperate situations and above all else, Dinah Washington.
Dir: Lynne Ramsay
Amateur actors tend to scare away most prestigious directors. However, Lynne Ramsay has been challenging this train of thought her entire career.
Another one of Jenkins’ inspirations and the only female director on the list, Lynne Ramsay’s consistent combinations of professional and amateur actors on set is nothing new to the veteran Scottish auteur.
Taking a huge risk, Lynne’s 1999 masterwork Ratcatcher placed a non-actor in the lead role. 12-year-old William Eadie almost by accident masterfully portrays a young James, a Glasgow youth who must fight both poverty and internal family strife.
The film acts somewhat as a predecessor of Moonlight, as we watch a version of young Chiron grow and struggle in a similar situation in Liberty City, Florida.
George Washington (2000)
Dir: David Gordon Green
You may be shocked to hear that “average joe” David Gordon Green, director of the smash-hit stoner comedy Pineapple Express (2008), is also behind a forgotten yet one of the most important black coming-of-age films of the 21st century.
Utilizing unexpected filmmaking styles for his tale of urban drama such as the traditionally western-oriented use of landscaping, or the documentary-like portrayal of a dying city, Green shows us a lens all too real for those of the inner city as we follow a group of black youth after a terrible accident occurs.
Although sadly missed by audiences due to a minimal theatrical release and a controversial subject, this unlikely tale of romance, family, crime, and guilt in an apocalyptic-like setting cannot be missed.
In the Mood for Love (2000)
Dir: Wong Kar-wai
The second Wong Kar-wai film to appear on the list, In the Mood for Love (2000) follows a tale of betrayal, bondage, and forbidden love in the streets of 1960s Hong Kong.
The film chronicles apartment neighbors Su Li-zhen (Maddie Cheung) and Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung), who discover that their spouses are cheating on them with each other. Through their investigation into how and why this happened, Su and Chow inadvertently end up falling in love themselves.
Powered by stunning direction, cinematography, and brilliant performances by lead actors Leung and Cheung, In the Mood for Love tests the bounds and restraints of love and companionship, and makes its subject suffer through the necessary consequences of a forbidden love.
Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Dir: Abdellatif Kechiche
Love is universal, and film acts as much as an advocate as any other group, individual, or organization.
The French film Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013), based on the widely unknown graphic novel of the same name, follows Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a freedom-desiring youth who ends up falling for the mysterious blue-haired artist Emma (Léa Seydoux).
Director Abdellatif Kechiche’s challenge to sex, identity, culture, and social class eventually paid off as the film received the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, the prestigious event’s highest honor.
This film’s brutally realistic portrayal of sex, desire, and growing up in a world in which no one understands you is a must see for Moonlight lovers.
Call Me by Your Name
Dir: Luca Guadagnino
Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name (2017) is a controversial pick, as the film has yet to be released. However, after the film’s appearance at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, anticipation to its release has been hyped beyond description.
Described as a galvanizing 2 hours of powerful bliss, romance, and challenging eroticism, Call Me by Your Name stands to have a critically blessed opening.
Taking place in 1980s Italy and based on the novel of the same name, the film will chronicle the story of Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American student who temporarily resides in the villa belonging to the family of the young Elio (Timothée Chalamet). The film will tackle themes of seual orientation, religion, and the environemt.
The film is set for release in the United States on November 24, 2017. Be sure to catch it!
“Blue is the Warmest Colour” (2013), Dir: Abdellatif Kechiche
“Call Me by Your Name” (2017), Dir: Luca Guadagnino
“Chunking Express” (1994), Dir: Wong Kar-wai
“George Wasington” (2000), Dir: David Gordon Green
“In the Mood for Love” (2000), Dir: Wong Kar-wai
“La La Land” (2016), Dir: Damien Chazelle
“Moonlight” (2016), Dir: Barry Jenkins
“Pineapple Express” (2008), Dir: David Gordon Green
“Ratcatcher” (1999), Dir: Lynne Ramsay