It has been a year since Barry Jenkins won the Best Picture Academy Award for Moonlight, and if you’ve tracked his movements, he has barely been home. He’s obsessed with air travel—and not just getting from point A to point B, like his triumphant return trip to Austin in March as a Film Keynote Speaker exactly 10 years after his first film, Medicine for Melancholy, premiered at the fest. Jenkins also fixates on the perils of the journey itself, posting screenshots of crowded flight paths and potential turbulence, and fretting when he boards a plane so rickety that the armrests still have ashtrays. It’s a fitting neurosis.
Jenkins’ ascent to Oscar success nearly nosedived several times. Map his career, and the trajectory looks less like a 747 than a bumbling bee.
In college, he was a football jock from the Miami projects whose film knowledge didn’t go deeper than Die Hard and Toy Story. Jenkins was one semester away from graduating with a degree in creative writing—from there, he figured he’d teach English, maybe?—when he saw a sign on the Florida State University campus that literally just said, “Film School.” He loved Die Hard. Why not?