By “Cinema” Dave
Denzel Washington has entered the Hollywood legendary status decades ago, joining generational acting legends like Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier. Fences marks Washington’s third directorial motion picture, which is based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning Broadway play. Having won a Golden Globe award (for Viola Davis), Fences is poised to receive multiple Oscar nominations.
Sanitation custodian Troy Maxson (Washington) returns home on payday and dutifully gives his check to his loving wife, Rose (Davis). After finishing a bottle of gin with his sidekick and discussing his glory days as a baseball player, Troy and Rose bring up their domestic woes.
Much like those controversial award-winning plays from the 1950s (Death of a Salesman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) that became award-winning motion pictures, Fences features terse dialogue creating fantastic performances. Much like the performances given by Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski and Elizabeth Taylor’s Maggie the Cat, Washington and Davis sink their teeth in their roles with conviction.
At 139 minutes, Fences is a long movie to sit through. Set in a Pittsburgh townhouse, watching the Maxson family air their dirty laundry gets long in the tooth. After witnessing much arguing and bickering, one wishes the Maxson family would move away.
Among multiple awards, Moonlight took home the Golden Globe award for best picture. Whereas Fences was a static story, Moonlight clocks in under two hours and feels more epic. Set in a crime neighborhood in Miami, Moonlight presents the right of passage for little Chiron Black and covers the span of time from 1979 to the present day.
Told in three parts, we meet “Little,” a bullied boy whose Mom (Naomie Harris from Pirates of the Caribbean and James Bond franchises) is a drug addict. Seemingly pulled out of a bad situation by a mentor, little Chiron witnesses a tragedy that colors the rest of his life. In Part two, titled “Chiron,” we see the teenager confront his own feelings that leads to explosive actions. “Black” is the final story which presents the protagonist coming to grips with his current situation as a young man of the streets.
With echoes of Boyhood, Breaking Bad and Brokeback Mountain, Moonlight is truly an original story that presents a culture we see on the street. For its originality with surprising plot twists, Moonlight deserves award consideration.