Pending a rewatch to be really sure about this film, because I was so floored by its third act, both in its emotional impact and how it closes out Chiron's arc, after some ambivalence about the first two. Specifically, the uneasy blend of abstraction and realism. Often the push-and-pull works (there is some criticism against Naomie Harris' performance, but I think a lot of her scenes work in this mode well), but also often they can negate each other a bit; Chiron's silence lends to some great lyrical passages, but, especially in the second act where school becomes more prevalent, can tip over from a character trait into a slight feeling of empty blank slate when pitched against more realistic, gritty situations. The performances help this clash to not become a serious liability, but it still nags me a bit throughout.
That third act though... Barry Jenkins has built enough backstory by now to go more full-on lyricism, which suits him perfectly. Wong Kar-Wai has been mentioned often about Jenkins' approach, and what really makes this act for me is Trevante Rhodes as the oldest iteration of Chiron, who does not only gives a powerful, smoldering Wong Kar-Wai-character performance, but also is still fully apiece of the previous two Chirons. He is the great bridge between two modes and three character arcs, managing to build on the past and progress it forward wonderfully. The combination of Jenkins' exquisite direction and soulful performances by both Rhodes and Andre Holland (equally excellent) has me leave the theater in as good a high as I've had from any 2016 film. 8/10