Yeah, yeah, Moonlight won a Best Picture Oscar, it was a whole thing. Awards season might technically be over, but discerning Moonlight fans and/or tweens will note that Barry Jenkins’s film about a young black boy growing up in Miami and coming to terms with his sexuality was up for another noteworthy prize: The MTV Movie and TV Award for Best Kiss, which co-stars Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome took home last night.
Sanders and Jerome’s kiss comes at a crucial moment in the film, in the second chapter of the film, when Sanders’s Chiron is a teenager. (Alex R. Hibbert plays Chiron as a young boy, and Trevante Rhodes plays him as an adult.) Chiron and Kevin (Jerome), one of the few kids at school who’s never picked on Chiron, meet at the beach one night and smoke a joint; they kiss, and Chiron has his first sexual encounter. As Flavorwire’s film editor Jason Bailey wrote in his review, the encounter is one of “remarkable tenderness; watch how many times Chiron looks up at Kevin in the run-up to their first kiss, afraid that it’s a fake out, that at any minute the young man’s lips will be replaced by a fist.”
Sanders, 21, and Jerome, 19, were visibly excited (not to mention incredibly stylish) when they climbed onstage and accepted the golden popcorn statue from the presenters, Get Out stars Allison Williams and Lil Rel Howery — who also took home an award last night, for Best Comedic Performance. Jerome began by thanking his parents before getting serious. “It is ok for us young performers, especially us young minority performers, to step out of the box,” he said. He dedicated the award to artists “who need to step out the box to do whatever it takes to get people to wake up.” Sanders echoed the sentiment, saying the award “represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the others, the misfits. This represents us.”