By: Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter
“I have this fundamental block — maybe I’ll always have it, maybe I’ll get past it — but I am essentially Chiron, I grew up like this kid and there are just certain ceilings that I never can imagine myself breaking through,” says Barry Jenkins, the writer and director of Moonlight, as we sit down in his downtown Los Angeles apartment to record an episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast. “When they happen,” the 37-year-old continues, “they genuinely are an extreme surprise. And for whatever reason, I can’t get through this block that Chiron does not grow up and make a film that gets eight Academy Award nominations.” He then pauses, smiles and quietly adds, “But I guess he does.”
Jenkins, for his work on the acclaimed drama about a young man growing up black and gay in Miami (he is black but not gay), is Oscar-nominated for best director and, alongside Tarell Alvin McCraney, best adapted screenplay. His film — only the second feature he has directed, following 2008’s critically applauded but underseen Medicine for Melancholy — is nominated for best picture. Whatever happens on Feb. 26, he has had one hell of an awards season. Moonlight was unveiled over Labor Day Weekend at the Telluride Film Festival, was greeted with massive acclaim and only continued to gain momentum, ending 2016 as one of the year’s best reviewed film (it has a 98 percent favorable rating on RottenTomatoes.com).
Oh, and Jenkins was chosen as the year’s best director by the National Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, and was nominated for that distinction by the Directors Guild of America and both Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice voters. Meanwhile, the script that he and McCraney adapted from McCraney’s unproduced play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue won the USC Scripter and Gotham awards for best screenplay and was nominated for that distinction by Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and BAFTA voters. The script also is nominated for a Writers Guild Award, and both Jenkins’ direction and the script are nominated for Spirit Awards.
(Click below to listen to this episode or here to access all of our 125+ episodes via iTunes. Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Eddie Murphy, Lady Gaga, Robert De Niro, Amy Schumer, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Louis C.K., Kristen Stewart, Harvey Weinstein, Sally Field, Jerry Seinfeld, Jane Fonda, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kate Winslet, Michael Moore, Helen Mirren, J.J. Abrams, Taraji P. Henson, Warren Beatty, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Eisner, Brie Larson, Sting, Natalie Portman, RuPaul, Sheila Nevins, Justin Timberlake, Lily Collins, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Chastain, Tracy Morgan, Alicia Vikander, James Corden, Lily Tomlin, Eddie Redmayne, Sarah Silverman, Michael Keaton, Charlotte Rampling, Tyler Perry, Isabelle Huppert, Vince Vaughn, Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, Emma Stone and Denzel Washington.)