Dear Academy, what's good?
The Oscar nominations have been announced on Jan 15. This year, even more so than last, the public is not happy with the Academy's decisions. The jarring absence of females and people of colour among the nominees got everyone talking.
But even if we put the race and gender controversy aside, the Academy has some explaining to do.
Here are the 11 brilliant films I think the Oscars snubbed this year, big time.
It's Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn't been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumour.
This film is absolutely gorgeous. The cast is perfect which doesn't happen too often. What's more, it's such a beautifully directed movie.
2. Clouds of Sils Maria
At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago. But back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she is being asked to step into the other role, that of the older Helena. Facing up to the passage of time is not easy.
I was very quick to dismiss Kristen Stewart as the Twilight girl. But only in The Clouds of Sils Maria does she show what she's really capable of. Speaking fluidly, swiftly, showing emotion convincingly, she shoots down the haters. Absolutely wonderful.
3. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Like most teenage girls, Minnie Goetze is longing for love, acceptance and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother's boyfriend, "the handsomest man in the world."
This film flows naturally. It's a sharp, funny, and provocative account of one girl's sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment. It's not trying to be something. It just is.
Nelly, a German-Jewish nightclub singer, has survived a concentration camp, but with her face disfigured by a bullet wound. Her former husband, Johnny , doesn’t recognise her anymore. Rather than reveal herself, Nelly walks into a dangerous game of duplicity and disguise as she tries to figure out if the man she loves may have betrayed her to the Nazis.
The complexity of the tale of a nation’s tragedy and a woman’s search for answers, love, and acceptance alone is Oscar-worthy.
5. Beasts of No Nation
When civil war tears his family apart, a young West African boy is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters and transform into a child soldier.
It's a physically and emotionally exhausting masterpiece, all thanks to Idris Elba.
6. The Walk
Based on a documentary of the same title, The Walk is the true story of a young dreamer, Philippe Petit, and a band of unlikely recruits who together achieve the impossible: an illegal wire walk in the immense void between the World Trade Centre towers.
This feature, much like the real story itself, is extremely motivating, inspiring, and though-provoking. The plot is simple, but that's exactly why it's genius.
New Jersey police lieutenant, Laurel Hester, and her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree, both battle to secure Hester's pension benefits when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
This film almost feels like a summary of 2015 in therms of LGBT rights. It is not only politically and sociologically significant, but also it's full of real, honest emotions. I'm VERY surprised the Academy overlooked this film.
8. The Lobster
In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.
Probably the strangest film of last year. Stunning cinematography. Weirdly hypnotising. Genuinely both sad and funny.
9. James White
James, a 21-year-old New Yorker, struggles to take control of his self-destructive behaviour in the face of momentous family challenges.
Technically it's yet another story about the hardships of growing up and being an adult, but Christopher Abbott's performance controls your attention from start to finish.
10. 99 Homes
A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who's the source of his frustration.
Michael Shannon brings the same intensity as in Take Shelter. Andrew Garfield surprisingly delivers as well. Overall, a very nice surprise and a strong feature that somehow got completely ignored by the Academy.
11. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Greg is a high school senior who is trying to blend in anonymously, avoiding deeper relationships as a survival strategy for navigating the social minefield that is teenage life. Greg’s mom insists he spend time with Rachel - a girl in his class who has just been diagnosed with cancer - he slowly discovers how worthwhile the true bonds of friendship can be.
Far from being John Green-esque, this film tells a real story of compassion and kindness. Very cleverly edited - such a shame no one noticed that.
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