Overlooked by the Oscars, But Worth the Watch
From major studio releases to independent films, here are some recent favorites you can find at the library.
Till2023Get this item
A powerful historical drama from filmmaker Chinonye Chukwu, told through the lens of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who became an educator and a prominent activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Danielle Deadwyler in the lead role should've gotten an Oscar nomination.
The Woman King2022Get this item
Gina Prince-Bythewood directs the heck out of this women-led historical fiction movie about the Agojie, an all-female military unit in the 1820s that guarded the West African kingdom of Dahomey. The incomparable Viola Davis transformed herself to become General Nanisca, and her co-stars Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, and Sheila Atim all deserve much acclaim.
She Said2023Get this item
If you’re a fan of movies about newspapers and investigative journalism, this is a must-see. It’s based on the nonfiction book of the same name, and follows New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, whose work and research led to several women breaking silence concerning the abuses of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. Kudos to actors Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan, as well as director Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
Decision to leave2022Get this item
This stunning neo-noir romantic detective thriller from South Korea made the Oscar shortlist for Best International Feature Film. It’s a slow burn for sure, with an obsessive love at the center. Although this did not make the final cut, my vote is solid.
Utama2023Get this item
Bolivia’s entry for the 95th Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film, this is an eco-drama by first-time director Alejandro Loayza Grisi that’s as heartbreaking as it is beautiful. The narrative follows an elderly Quechua couple who live in the high plains of the Andes, grazing a small herd of llamas, something they’ve done for decades. However, an unusually long drought might force them to abandon their home for the city. Cinematographer Barbara Alvarez is at the top of her profession, and you’ll be in awe of the visually gorgeous work.
Nope2022Get this item
Writer/director Jordan Peele (Get Out, Up) is a master of horror and thrillers with an eye toward social commentary. His third feature film blends sci-fi and the Western genres and dives into film history and exploitation. The plot involves an unidentified flying object hovering over a horse ranch owned by siblings played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. It hits the mark for acting, directing, writing, and cinematography, with a standout performance from Palmer.
After Yang2022Get this item
When Yang, the family android beloved to Jake and Kyra's adopted young daughter Mika, suddenly shuts down, Jake tries to find a way to repair him. In doing so, he learns about Yang’s historical significance and reflects on his own life and the importance of being present for his family. Indeed, filmmaker Kogonada created a quiet and thoughtful movie, and I especially liked Colin Farrell as Jake.
A Love Song2023Get this item
Dale Dickey and Wes Studi are two veteran actors usually cast in supporting roles. Here, they take front and center, playing childhood friends who reunite after many years. Dale Dickey received an Independent Spirit nomination for her performance. It’s an under-the-radar gem that merits a bit more attention.
The Inspection2023Get this item
Inspired by his own experiences as a young, gay Black man who joined the Marines after his mother kicked him out of the house at 16 and then spent 10 years homeless, filmmaker Elegance Bratton’s movie is authentic and impactful. It rightfully earned Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Lead Performance (Jeremy Pope), Best Supporting Performance (Gabrielle Union), and Best First Feature.
Beans2022Get this item
Tracey Deer lived through the 1990 Oka Crisis (a land dispute between the Mohawk communities and the town Oka, Quebec, Canada) when she was 12 and knew that someday she would tell her version of those events on film. We see a young girl experience for the first time the ugliness of bigotry and more, and then decide how she’ll become her own type of activist. TIFF included it on their year-end Canada’s top 10 feature film list.
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