“I have them refer to me as ‘trailblazer,'” jokes Joi McMillon during our recent webcam chat (watch above) when asked about her historic Oscar bid for “Moonlight.” McMillon is the first African American woman ever nominated for Best Film Editing, an honor made even greater by the fact that she contends alongside her film school pals Barry Jenkins (Writing and Directing), Adele Romanski (Picture), James Laxton (Cinematography), and Nat Sanders (Film Editing). “I think for all of us, since we’ve been friends for so long and known each other since college, our goal was to do Barry proud and get this film into Telluride,” she recalls. “So I don’t think we had any idea this was going to happen.”
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The film uses three different actors to tell the story of Chiron, a young black gay man growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood, through childhood (Alex Hibbert), adolescence (Ashton Sanders), and adulthood (Trevante Rhodes). “I wish we could take more credit for the continuity of performance between the three actors,” divulges Sanders, “but it really was just kind of there in the footage.” The challenge, then, was, “maintaining Barry’s filmmaking voice, which was observational and ponderous, and always wanting to preserve that, but still needing to keep things moving.”
In addition to McMillon and Sanders’ bid, “Moonlight” competes in seven other categories: Best Picture, Best Director (Jenkins), Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jenkins), Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score.
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