‘Moonlight’ continues to exceed expectations, leading the way at the Spirit Awards

“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins’ intimate drama depicting three periods in the life of a young gay black man, earned six nominations Tuesday for the Film Independent Spirit Awards — feature, director, screenplay, cinematography, editing and the Robert Altman Award, which honors the director, casting director Yesi Ramirez and the acting ensemble.

The last three movies to win the Spirits’ best film trophy — “Spotlight,” “Birdman” and “12 Years a Slave” — have gone on to win the Oscar.

That kind of outsized expectation might be a little much for an uncompromising film about a character, played by three different actors, learning to accept his sexual identity. But then, “Moonlight,” an indie hit and critics favorite, has done nothing but exceed expectations since premiering in September at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals.

“If you had sat me down six hours before that Telluride premiere and said, ‘Eleven weeks from now, this is going to happen,’ I would have said, ‘No, you’re wrong,’” Jenkins told The Times. “I never imagined this many people would care about this film.”

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