I didn’t see absolutely everything this past year, but out of the films I did see, “Moonlight” was at the top of my list. And it was solely because of its merits as a film. The overall structure of the film was so well done. You walk away with a very full picture of who the main character is and what has happened to him in his life, despite only getting glimpses at three very specific moments in that life. That’s good storytelling when the scenes unfold naturally, yet you don’t have to work hard to connect the dots of what isn’t explicitly shown on the screen. The final act in particular blew me away. The dialogue is so well crafted. Stripped down, but it delivers an incredible emotional impact. Heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.
I liked “La La Land” a whole lot, too. For me, “La La Land” is really about that final sequence, which is incredible — technically and emotionally. “La La Land” has more depth than many people are giving it credit for. Love lost and playing that game of “What if?” with yourself is universal. In “La La Land” it’s all wrapped in the package of a fun, light musical, but love and reopening past wounds in that department is heavy, real life stuff. “Moonlight” gets the edge for me because I really respect when a film can deliver big in an understated way, and its impact was longlasting. I had a lot of fun watching “La La Land,” but without that final sequence, it wouldn’t have had much staying power.