Back in December, around the time that the New York Film Critics Circle awarded its supporting actor prize to Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali, I had a conversation with a fellow member of the group that’s nagged at me ever since. It began with a question: Why Ali and not Trevante Rhodes? Critics seemed to be struggling to figure out how to reward all of Moonlight’s fine male performances, and they didn’t know what category Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, and Alex Hibbert belonged in. There was a sense that it was easiest to honor Ali because his character, Juan, like Janelle Monáe’s Teresa, has the closest thing to a constant in the life of Little, the boy who would become Chiron, the teenager who would become Black. I made a comparison to Patricia Arquette and what her character represents in Boyhood, and my colleague saw Ali performing a hat trick all the way to the Oscar stage.