I hesitate to equate the 2017 Oscars with a simpler time in the news cycle, but here we are.

So much has happened between February and now — the growing list of White House firings, the Comey testimony, the ACA tug-of-war, Russia, Korea, Charlottesville, now the hurricane and the pardon in the same damn week — that the ceremony in which Moonlight won Best Picture seems like a faint, possibly nonexistent memory. We were only a couple months into 45’s presidency, bracing ourselves for what we couldn’t possibly imagine was coming.

That night, when La La Land was announced to be the winner, only to be rightfully dethroned by some sort of bizarre card-reading or brain-fart mishap, we’ll never really know, a statement was made that everyone needed to hear, and it was that Moonlight was the best piece of cinematic art made in 2016. The announcement mishap took away a good portion of Moonlight‘s time in the spotlight, but it didn’t take away the film’s power. Even as the news cycle has devolved into a depressing regurgitation of 45’s internet effluvia, it took Moonlight quite a bit of time to fade back into the film canon. It stood tall, proud and important leading up to the Oscars, and it continued that way for several months after. It is to movies what The Wire is to television — in the sense that everyone tells you that you should’ve seen it already because it’s that phenomenal. Barry Jenkins gave us a gift.

I certainly don’t want to detract from the graveness of recent headlines, but I can’t help but smile every time I remember that Moonlight won BP. It’s a shiny, tiny glimmer of hope from the art world that hovers above the utter disaster that is the political/social/meteorological/etc world we live in.

The three actors who play Chiron — Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes — synced their mannerisms and posture beautifully to portray him seamlessly throughout his life. It’s also a casting marvel, considering how similarly their mouths and eyes emote even as the character grows up. Chiron is an unlucky boy — he is gay in a very straight world and his mother (an unrecognizable Naomie Harris) is an addict in a very enabling world — but not so unlucky that he doesn’t come across a role model in drug-dealer Juan (national treasure Mahershala Ali). Juan and his girlfriend (Janelle Monae, who is and should be everywhere) fill in the stability blanks for him, and their love eases his mind and allows him to grow up to be himself, instead of his mother’s caretaker.

It’s a present-day story, but it’s beyond timeless. The soundtrack, composed by Nicholas Britell, is just one reason why — it doesn’t lean too heavily on current music, instead filling the busy scenes with graceful movement and leaving the simple ones alone to revel in their stillness. But the real timelessness is in the relationship between Chiron and his best friend, Kevin (Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome and Andre Holland). We’ve all wanted someone we can’t have, and the cultural/sexual/emotional/otherwise tension between these two grows and magnifies at a heartbreaking, disjointed — real — pace. Chiron is as everyman as it gets.

Be on the right side of culture and see this movie, and then keep it there in your mind for when you need it. And hope Jenkins (and others) make more like it.



You know what’s not so bad? Watching Skyfall in IMAX in the second row of the theater. Under most circumstances, I’d be against this sort of experience for fear of constant nausea. But when there are no seats left, you have to nut up and get close.

Daniel Craig, thus, was IN MY FACE for the entire two-and-something hours. Right there. Up in my grill. But what fun! Bond movies are nothing if they’re not fun, and Skyfall delivers in that regard. I’ve heard miscellaneous chatter that it’s the “best Bond ever,” which I sort of have an issue with, but it’s definitely a good time to be had, especially with an Icee in one hand and a room full of people.

So, I guess we learn a bit more about Bond in this movie. Spoiler alert: “Skyfall” is the name of the remote mansion he grew up in. It’s also the site of the climactic showdown with the evildoers, helmed by a very amusing, bisexual Javier Bardem. God love him and his second encounter with terrible villain hair; the blonde helmet he dons this time around as Silva is no match for Anton Chigurh’s mushroom cut, but it sure is something. But, even more than those two things, it seems to be a metaphor for all of his Bondian secrets, many of which (another spoiler here) presumably go up in flames at the end of the film, along with the property, never to be revealed. But at least we can picture where he came from, and how his childhood might have been. If he even really had one. He was probably born in a suit.

Daniel Craig wears suits really well. I know that’s like saying Buster Posey is a great catcher or Eric Clapton is a great guitar player, but it has to be said and re-said. The man wears the shit out of a suit. He’s also a fantastic Bond, albeit the 007 incarnation who sits comfortably at the business end of the Bond spectrum. Craig’s Bond prioritizes his work over everything else; women, health, sanity, all of those things come after work. On the other side, you have Roger Moore’s Bond, more of a dandy than the others, and certainly not in the shape of the others, either. Strewn about the nebulous middle of this spectrum are Dalton, Lazenby, and Brosnan, and then firmly in the center (centre?) is, of course, Sean Connery. He’s the best Bond because he’s the ultimate Bond, the perfect balance of labor and leisure. Daniel Craig does the job really well, but Connery set the precedent.

So, yes, I’m not running the “Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever” campaign, because I think that race has already been won. But I think Bond movies are way more fun to watch now, with all of the over-the-top action. Between the first train-chase scene and the final battle scene, there was more than enough to pay attention to. I was actually surprised that there weren’t more women in the film; the latest Bond girl (Berenice Marlohe) was sort of forgettable, while Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) stole the few scenes she was in, but neither got much screen time, because like I said, Craig Bond is a workaholic. So it goes, I guess.

Actually, maybe I’m not entirely correct when I say there weren’t more women in the film, because the movie was filled with Judi Dench. (If you don’t believe me, listen to the recent “Doug Loves Movies” podcast with Jen Kirkman, Pete Holmes, and Paul F. Tompkins.) It makes sense, because (spoils, blah blah blah) it’s her last Bond film as M, but still. Lots of Dench. Dench-saturated. She’s great and all, but, yeah. Lots of Dench. On the bright side, the new M is great. Ralph Fiennes, or “Raif Fines” as I like to call him, fits really well into this world. (As does the new Q, Ben Whishaw!)

Go have yourself a good time and see Skyfall in the theaters. It’s not as perfect as Bond’s martini, but it’ll definitely do.