Unfortunately, Barry Jenkins has not directed 8 films as of October 2021; he has directed only 4 feature-length films – “Moonlight” (2016), “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), “Medicine for Melancholy” (2008), and “Chlorophyll” (2011). Jenkins has also directed some episodes for the TV series “The Underground Railroad” (2021).

Below are the four movies he has directed with the format provided:

Moonlight (2016)

IMDB rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 98%

Storyline: Moonlight is a three-part narrative spanning the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood of an African-American man who survives Miami’s drug-plagued inner city, finding love in unexpected places and the possibility of change within himself.

Moonlight is a major movie for both Barry Jenkins as a filmmaker and cinema as a whole. Jenkins brilliantly portrayed the nuances of human experiences and emotions in this Oscar-winning film. Dealing with themes of identity, sexuality, and self-exploration, the film has broken barriers in storytelling and character development.

Furthermore, Moonlight made history by being the first LGBTQ-related film, and the second lowest-grossing film domestically, to win the Best Picture at the Oscars. Its visceral and raw depiction of life in a marginalized community, the exceptional acting performances, and Jenkins’ aesthetically pleasing yet thought-provoking direction all contributed to its monumental success.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

IMDB rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95%

Storyline: In the early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect, and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny. Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

If Beale Street Could Talk is a noteworthy film for its subjective perspective on systemic racism and justice, focusing more on the human stories and emotions than the broad societal issues at play. It is a moving love story and a distressing tale of racial injustice that are both beautifully woven together by the masterful direction of Barry Jenkins.

The film further solidifies Jenkins’ distinct filmmaking style that takes ordinary, often suppressed stories, and presents them in a relatable and humane manner. Jenkins’ ability to embody the nuances and depth of African-American lives and experiences, coupled with the captivating aesthetic quality of the film, made it a significant movie in contemporary cinema.

Medicine for Melancholy (2008)

IMDB rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 72%

Storyline: This indie drama portrays a one-night stand between two African Americans in San Francisco who discuss personal identity, gentrification, and race-related issues while they spend a day together that might turn into something more.

Medicine for Melancholy is a major movie because it showcases Barry Jenkins’ innate understanding of human emotions and his formidable storytelling ability, which later became characteristic of his films. The way Jenkins uses space and silence to depict the intimate moments between the characters captures the audience’s attention in a distinctly understated way.

Despite being Jenkins’ debut feature film, its thought-provoking take on the themes of love, race, and identity has set the stage for his later works. The film’s minimalist yet expressive cinematographic style combined with the characters’ compelling discussions and reflections made the film a memorable start to Jenkins’ career.

Chlorophyll (2011)

IMDB rating: 5.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A

Storyline: Chlorophyll is a mood piece that follows Jo during a tough time in her life. She’s given up her career and her personal life to care for her terminally ill mother. However, Jo has a unique escape, her mother’s plant, where she feels life blooming amidst the sadness.

Chlorophyll is a significant piece in Barry Jenkins’ filmography because it demonstrates how he is able to address universal themes like grief, care, and hope in a minimalist yet captivating manner. The film shows his distinctive filmmaking style, focusing on the characters and their emotional journey through compelling visual narratives.

Chlorophyll may not be as lauded or well-known as later Jenkins films, but it holds an integral place in his body of work. It showcases his ability to touch upon profound themes with a sensitive and thoughtful approach. Even with fewer resources, Jenkins shows great promise in storytelling, visual aesthetics, and highlighting ordinary but heartfelt human stories.