Could Moonlight cause an Oscars upset?

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

image sourceAltitude Films
image captionNaomie Harris is nominated for best supporting actress at the Oscars

Moonlight is doing rather well at the moment.

The film has been been a box office success, a darling of the critics and a total awards magnet.

On Sunday, it won one of the top prizes at the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards, leaving writer and director Barry Jenkins wondering whether it's time to order a bigger trophy cabinet.

"This means the world to me," Jenkins said as he took to the stage to accept the award for best original screenplay.

"I can't say writing will get you on this stage but it will bring you close to the world."

Moonlight has become such a favourite among critics and award judges that some have quietly wondered whether it could cause a huge upset at the Oscars.

image sourceGetty Images
image captionDirector Barry Jenkins (r) adapted Moonlight from the play written by Tarell Alvin McCraney

You're probably sick to the back teeth of everybody banging on about La La Land and how much of a dead-cert it is for best picture.

It may well still sweep the board, but Moonlight - a film about a black gay man growing up in poverty in Miami - is second favourite among most pundits and bookies.

According to Box Office Mojo, the film has so far taken more than $21m (£16.9m) in the US alone. It was released to British audiences this weekend and has so far taken £620,636 in the UK.

image sourceAltitude Films
image captionMahershala Ali could become the first Muslim to win an acting Oscar

Its success is even more notable for the fact that the movie has no major stars in its leading roles.

Mahershala Ali has become something of a breakout star - and could potentially be the first Muslim to win an acting Oscar.

Could Moonlight win best picture?

image sourceAltitude Films

The case for:

  • The critics love it
  • It's already won a truckload of awards
  • It's been successful at the box office despite having no major stars

The case against:

  • La La Land

Perhaps more important than Moonlight's box office performance is the huge amount of critical praise which has been heaped on it.

The film was released in the UK over the weekend and just about every critic was falling over themselves to declare it a masterpiece.

Well, nearly all critics. It's fair to say Camilla Long of The Sunday Times didn't take to it in quite the same way.

image sourceTwitter

But, broadly speaking, reviewers liked it. And even Long gave it three stars, which could be a lot worse.

The film has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 99% score on Metacritic - sites which tot up critical reviews.

image sourceAltitude Films
image captionMoonlight tells the story of a young black man growing up in Miami

Even if the film doesn't win best picture at the Oscars, it's still got a decent chance at going home with a couple of prizes.

Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali are nominated in the supporting actor and actress categories.

The film is also up for best adapted screenplay - it was based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.

Then there are its nominations for best director, best cinematography, best original score and best film editing.

The Academy Awards take place this Sunday, 26 February.

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