For Barry Jenkins, the music of a film is as much a part of its DNA as the dialogue and careful cinematography. In fact, Jenkins makes a habit of writing the lyrics of the songs he’s chosen into the script itself. That fact is made abundantly clear in Moonlight, virtually from the very first shot. Jenkins opens the film with Boris Gardner’s “Every N*gger Is a Star” (which you, like Jenkins, likely first heard sampled by Kendrick Lamar). And while the stirring instrumental score remains an undeniable part of the film’s emotional pull, it’s the film’s two subsequent brushes with popular music that remain its most affecting. Jidenna’s chopped and screwed “Classic Man” arrives as Chiron’s distilled melancholy in a nearly wordless scene between Moonlight’s two estranged lovers, but it’s Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” that’s as close to an emotional punch to the gut as I’ve heard in ages, a song that easily croons the words Chiron and Kevin can't manage to say. You’re gonna want to set this one on repeat. —Aubrey Page