“Moonlight,” the made-in-Miami drama about three stages in the life of a young man growing up in Liberty City, earned eight Oscar nominations Tuesday, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali, Best Director for Barry Jenkins and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jenkins and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose personal experiences inspired the movie.
The film, which Miami Herald film critic Rene Rodriguez hails as “Miami’s first bonafide movie masterpiece,” captures the city so well because Jenkins was very careful about keeping the look of the film authentically Miami. Here are the Miami locales Jenkins used to create “Moonlight.”
1. Liberty Square Housing Project
Much of this story of a young black man coming of age was set and shot in and around Miami’s Liberty Square housing project. Built in 1937, the development was the first segregated public housing project in the United States. It’s scheduled to be “razed and redeveloped,” according to a 2015 announcement by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
2. Virginia Key Beach
One of the most tender scenes depicts the protagonist as a child being taught to swim by a drug dealer who serves as a father figure. That scene was shot on Virginia Key beach, a black-only beach during the segregation era on the Rickenbacker Causeway that connects mainland Miami to Key Biscayne.
3. Jimmy's Eastside Diner
The final segment centers on a reunion shot in the classic Biscayne Boulevard stop for comfort food, Jimmy’s Eastside Diner.