5 Moments That Should've Earned 'Moonlight' Best Cinematography

5 Moments That Should've Earned 'Moonlight' Best Cinematography

Cinematography should do more than make a movie look good.

"Moonlight" made headlines last week when it won the Academy Award for Best Picture after a mix up of envelopes mistakenly named "La La Land" in its place. After seeing "Moonlight" at a showing in New London this past weekend, I can absolutely say it deserves that award. The story is well-crafted and beautifully told through its music and visual and narrative parallels. However, "La La Land" still managed to rob the film of one award I firmly believe "Moonlight" should have won: Best Cinematography. "La La Land" is absolutely a gorgeous looking movie and is full of intensely visual moments, especially in its epilogue, but its cinematography doesn't go much farther than that. "Moonlight" uses the visual medium to actually assist in telling the story and creating the journey its main character, Chiron, goes through, all using only one camera.

Chiron is a shy, soft-spoken character, so "Moonlight" opts for visual cues, camera movement, and color to tell his story, making the cinematography essential to the movie in a way other nominees didn't. Since the film only had one camera, every shot had to be well-thought-out. The cinematographer, James Laxton, spoke to IndieWire about the look of the movie and its role in moving the story, as he and colorist Alex Bicket sought to create a high-contrast look to capture the film's location, Miami, in bright pastel along with the darker tones of the actors skin, enhanced by blue and green light to keep the contrast from making the film go black and white. Each chapter of the film is designed to emulate the color style of three different film stocks: the warm texture of Fuji for "Little," the ancient cyan of Agfa for "Chiron," and the "pop and shine" of Kodak for "Black."

Despite every aspect of its filming being so essential to creating the story, the Oscar still went to "La La Land." Since the film is so visually crafted throughout, it's hard to choose specific moments that capture the importance of its cinematography and why it should have won, but here are five shots that stand out the most.

1. Paula in red.

This shot is one of the most visually striking in the movie, partially for the way the music drowns out Paula's scream and partially for the specific way it is shot. It takes place in the first chapter, which is created almost entirely from young, bright blues and greens. When she slowly stalks from her room in red, bathed in pink light, it's jarring, especially in contrast to the shot of Chiron standing in the dull kitchen staring beyond the camera. The shot is set up so that Paula is framed by the walls of the room Chiron and the camera stand in, slightly off-center and bending nearly out of the frame to look directly into the camera, placing you in Chiron's place. The pink and red press in on her rather than filling any space in the kitchen, giving that light entirely to Paula's emotion and mental state. Each time this still shot comes back throughout the movie, that image of Paula leaning into the kitchen, through the barrier of the green walls and down to our level before shutting the door and drowning out the pink light feels angry and unsettling because of the way the shot frames her.

2. In the ice.

This moment is our first glimpse of Chiron in the movie's third act, and acts as a direct parallel to the last time we were given a shot of Chiron with his head in the ice. The last shot, though, was accompanied by flickering lights and an ugly green coloring. This one is entirely steady and completely colored by a dense, heavy blue. So much of "Moonlight" is filled with moving shots focused on Chiron's back, from the first shot of him running through the grass to the last shot of him standing by the ocean, always following him through his life, but this one is level and stationary, from its lighting to its camera movement, panning ever so slightly up on his back so you can see the muscles flex blue, calling back the image Juan painted at the beginning: "In moonlight, black boys look blue." It's a shot focused on reminding the audience of every aspect of Chiron's past as we enter the final act as well as telling them what to expect of where Chiron is in life at that moment, all through the color, camera placement, and movement.

3. The fight.

The weight of this moment in "Moonlight" is almost tangible, since the only people that know how high the emotion here is are Chiron, Kevin, and the audience. We have seen Kevin play-fighting with Chiron when they first became friends as kids. We've seen Chiron speak more than he has in the entire film as he talked through secrets with Kevin on the beach. After the quick motion and circling the camera has been performing throughout this scene, the placement of the camera directly in Kevin's place so that you must look directly into Chiron's eyes from Kevin's perspective forces the audience directly into Kevin's mind. Only you and these two boys know the weight of what is about to happen, so by giving you Kevin's perspective on Chiron, you understand what is passing from Kevin to Chiron and back to Kevin. It heightens the emotion of the scene by handing the audience every emotion tied to it.

4. "I'm your mama, ain't I?"

This shot uses the same technique as the last, but to a completely different effect. The beginning of the scene is blurred, emphasizing the surrealness of Paula's sudden kindness and the haze the drugs have left her in. When the shot finally comes into focus, we get to see Paula, looking directly into the camera and at Chiron, saying, "Well, I'm your mama, ain't I?" Even though she is so close to the camera, you can feel the distance between her and Chiron, especially with the following shot of Chiron, looking wary. It's the first moment from Paula where she appears soft after years of treating Chiron poorly, so even though we're allowed to look directly into her eyes, it feels completely disingenuous and dreamlike. It is a shot that is normally used to allow a connection between characters, but is used expertly here to create the opposite.

5. "Middle of the world."

In a moment that has become one of "Moonlight"s most iconic, Juan teaches Chiron to swim in the ocean after Chiron avoids going home again. The scene was filmed in water shallow enough that the young actor, Alex Hibbert, could stand safely, so the camera had to be placed right where the waves crashed. The camera sits half submerged and constantly flooding, creating an effect that feels as if the view point itself is struggling to stay above the water in the same way Chiron is. The scene feels soft and doesn't suggest danger, because of the bright blue that floods the first act of the movie, but the camera placement asks the audience to feel that panic and struggle as Chiron takes his first strokes. The above shot is placed once again behind Chiron's back so we can watch him learn and grow (on the very same beach where the final shot takes place, focused on his back until he turns for the first time and looks back to us). The shot is constantly flooded with a gentle blue, creating both the fear and floundering of swimming in the ocean for the first time and the serenity we and Chiron are able to find with Juan.

The cinematography is focused entirely on providing insight into Chiron's mind and journey, continuously providing meaning through every shot rather than appeasing a certain aesthetic or tone. The camera-work in "Moonlight" is an example of all that can be added to storytelling through every aspect of film, especially since the actual storyline of the movie is fairly simple if not looked at through the creativity of its creation. "Moonlight" just came out on DVD on February 28th, so if you haven't seen it yet, I'd suggest watching it and judging it for yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Indiewire

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Two Inspiring Movies Everyone Should See

Movies that take you on an emotional roller coaster.

I have always loved watching movies, especially ones with inspiring and emotional storylines. I get very invested and intrigued (maybe a little too much), but I love having that whirlwind of emotions throughout the entire movie.

Recently, I got the opportunity to see two amazing movies that I think are very important and had a huge effect on me. The films were “Lady Bird” and “Call Me by Your Name”. Both of these films came out in 2017 so they are fairly new. They are making a huge impact and receiving a lot of deserved recognition.

“Lady Bird” has such a special storyline. It follows the relationship between a mother and daughter in such a realistic way. As many girls know, a relationship with a mother is not always an easy one and the film really captures that frustration.

It follows the life of a young girl that is about to leave to go to college. So many things change for girls during this time and there are so many emotional challenges and obstacles. I absolutely love how this film displays this situation and many relationships in a very graphic and honest way. I think it is so important for young girls to watch this film and channel all those feelings. It is incredibly relatable and it reminds girls to be courageous.

“Call Me by Your Name” is seriously one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. It is a love story, which we have seen is countless movies, but this film displays a relationship in such a unique and beautiful way.

The best thing about this movie is that it is awkward at some points and maybe even a little uncomfortable. I admire this because love and relationships aren’t always magical and perfect. It expresses a type of love that is so unapologetic and pure. I could watch it over and over and still have the same inspiring feeling at the end. If you are a fan of emotional love stories or small independent films watch this movie. You will not regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Connor Limbocker

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A Tale of Two Corey's Part 3

Just when you thought it was over...Again

Here we are once again on the same topic. As I have previously said, this story will always remain unfinished no matter how much information gets out, the "Truth" or how things will be finished.

If you are unfamiliar with this whole thing, I would suggest reading part one and two but I will do a little quick refresher. Corey Haim and Corey Feldman were two of the biggest teen idols of the 80's. Their stardom was short lived due to them both being sexually abused at a young age as well as heavy drug use.

In my previous articles, I have clearly shown what side I am on and that is Haim's. Feldman has given me enough reason dislike everything he stands for and the way he treats his best friend. Like every good story, the plot keeps getting thicker and worse with every word that falls from his mouth.

If you were lucky enough to catch the movie, you saw the things it showed. On the Lifetime Channel, they aired a movie appropriately titled "A Tale of Two Corey's" (Maybe he read my articles) and was based on the 2013 book that Corey F. has written about his life. It was about play by play of course minus many little things here and there. It, of course, did Feldman justice but did it do Haim's? Of course not.

Everything that he says is becoming a big huge problem not only with fans or "haters" as he calls them but from Corey H.'s friends and family as well. He claims he is doing it for his former friend but I've never watched someone throw them under the bus as much as he has.

At one point in the movie, it had depicted a scene that he claims happened when they were teenagers that I cannot wrap my head around. I've spoken about it once but I NEED to bring it back up. When they were fifteen, Corey F. thought it was best to get Corey H. off his back by calling a guy who is twice his age to deal with the issue.

Now no one seems to see that it is a major problem considering that Haim had been raped by an older man a little while before. What "Best Friend" calls a man who can easily take advantage...No one including Corey F. himself sees that it is an issue. I can't be the only one, right?

The Lifetime movie had proved something I have been saying since I started this entire thing. Corey Feldman does not take responsibility for his actions in his friends demise and does not show any remorse or regret. Unfortunately we only get his side of the story since Corey H. has passed away back in 2013 due to pneumonia.

Even in the movie they had justified what I said which would backfire on Feldman. They had him as a teen yelling at Haim for taking movie roles and being the better Corey. I have been saying that he was jealous and many others can completely agree with it. He see's no wrong doing in his actions of his best friend being raped and he seems to turn the story around on everyone else.

Watching closely to the movie, they show Corey F. in more of a sympathy sort of way making him look like the innocent one of the two. Most of the drug use portrayed was done by Corey H. I know that he had struggled his entire life with addiction but I couldn't help but notice that difference. The picture depicted him as more of a saint who got sober while the other was portrayed as a problem to everyone.

After my first two articles, I had received two messages from two different women thanking me fro writing them. They are both friends with Corey H's. friends and personally know his Mother Judy who is also grateful me for these.I wanted people to read these and understand why this truth needs to be spoken.

If you are wondering why I back Corey Haim so much is due to various reasons. He is not here to defend himself on any allegation that is out there. He is not able to speak up against Corey Feldman and the things that he puts on him. Corey is not just a best friend or son or brother. Corey Haim is a man who had gotten unfairly treated in life and in death.

You've probably seen all of the interviews that Corey F. has been giving lately and boy, you were in for a treat after the movie if you caught it. Once again, the things he speaks of makes not any sense and I want to bring up one thing he said.

Weeks before Haim's passing, they had gotten a chance to hang out but not in the way I thought. Feldman had stated that Corey H. told him, "'If something happens to me or should I die before you, promise me that my story will be told.'" Now let me explain why I am confused on this.

These two had not spoken to each other in three years and out of the blue he is going to tell him that? Another thing is that Corey H. was not ready to face his demons himself so why would he want someone else to? I get that he would no longer be with us at that point but I'm not understanding the logic. Besides that, he was very, very close to his his Mother so why not have her instead of the guy you have had a rocky relationship with for the last ten years?

Where is this story going now? Well here is yet again another issue I have. Corey Feldman wants to make a movie about his book...Sound familiar? Yeah, I just watched it on Lifetime. Problem is, he wants it to be detailed and graphic. I'm sorry but I wouldn't want to watch a movie depicting sexual assault on a child like the way he wants to show it.

But before he makes it though he needs money, lots of it. He already had two donation pages raising at least $300,000 and guess what he's doing now? Yep, you guessed it, donation page 3 and wanting to raise a million dollars.

Every interview he does he brings it up and asks or shall I says begs for a donation. I'm not kidding, check out his Facebook or Twitter, he is constantly asking. I'm sorry but you just had a movie made (In which he got money for) which is going to be the same exact thing but graphic.

He had also Tweeted that if he doesn't see a rise in numbers on the donation page, he is going to shut it down because he's not getting any money. *Shakes head*, if that doesn't sound like a cash grab, I don't know what does.

Moving forward, will there be a part 4? I'm sure in time there will be one but for now I will still be following this story closely and the next nonsense that happens.

But just remember Corey, jealousy is an ugly thing and will backfire on you in no time.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.sheknows.com

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