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  • Published at 04:05 pm February 25th, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:25 pm March 20th, 2017
‘Best Documentary Feature’ and ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ are two other feature-length film categories that will highlight some of the greatest films of the year. The documentary OJ: Made in America (which is nearly eight-hours long) and the animation Zootopia were unique masterpieces nominated in their respective genres. The documentary 13th and the animation Kubo and the Two Strings were good as well. One significant change this year, after last year’s ‘Oscars so white’ movement, is the nomination of six black actors and actresses. Last year none of the 20 acting nominations were given to African Americans. Some of the best performances came from black actors and actresses. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences, and Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris in Moonlight were the best acting I have seen in 2016. Yes, Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea were memorable too. Here are brief descriptions of the 14 films along with my ratings. 14. TANNA (Australia) A real-life story of two star-crossed lovers on the island of Tanna. The film was shot on the island, along with actual tribes of Tanna. 13. MAN CALLED OVE (Sweden) The funniest film of the year is about a grumpy but adorable old man who, after the death of his wife, has been trying to take his own life but is met with little success – the darn neighbours are always interfering. Man Called Ove also got nominated in the ‘Best Makeup and Hairstyle’ category along with Star Trek Beyond and Suicide Squad. 12. HIDDEN FIGURES An uplifting film about the struggle for our rights. The three most prominent figures from the early days of NASA were women. Not only that, they were all African American women. 11. LION The most heartbreaking film of the year is an incredible true story of an Indian child from the slums who got lost and separated from his family. The child was later adopted by a kind Australian family and grew up with all the luxuries of life. As a grown man he started to search for his real family and found them. 10. MOONLIGHT This powerful film deals with three heated issues in America--black lives, drug abuse and homosexuality. Mahershala Ali is destined to become the next Samuel L Jackson 9. LAND OF MINE (Denmark) Land of Mine blurs the line between enemies and allies, cruelty and kindness, treason and patriotism. Everything is not black and white in war. We can do something, we can do nothing or we can strive to do the right thing. 8. TONI ERDMANN (Germany) Peter Simonischek is a delight to watch in this father-daughter comedy. While the father is easy going and playful, the daughter is uptight and serious. She is busy climbing up the corporate ladder and living a hectic life, that her father finds rather “meaningless”. 7. HELL OR HIGH WATER Two brothers decide to retaliate and rob a number of branches of the Texas Midlands Bank since the bank has foreclosed their family ranch through the reverse-mortgage loan. The most memorable quote comes from a native American police officer: “First they stole our land from us and now the banks are stealing away that land from them.” 6. FENCES Fence is easily among the greatest films made by an African American filmmaker. Actor-director Denzel Washington is a worthy successor to Sidney Poitier as the greatest black icon. 5. SALESMAN (Iran) Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for Separation (2011) and he deserves to win again this year for his new masterpiece Salesman. This is a thriller like no other, we do not know what to expect and we do not know whose side to take. 4. HACKSAW RIDGE Mel Gibson has given us excellent films, such as Man Without a Face (1993), Braveheart (1995) and Passion of Christ (2004). With the anti-war film Hacksaw Ridge he has proven yet again that he is a sensitive artist and one of the major talents in Hollywood. A classic. 3. ARRIVAL This is undoubtedly one of the great science fictions of all-time. There have been hundreds of films about alien invasion but nothing like Arrival. The fundamental goal of human civilisation is not to communicate with extra-terrestrials. How can we expect to connect with other beings when we cannot connect with other nations? What if aliens came to Earth to teach us how to talk with each other? 2. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA This is the only film this year that is closest to poetry. It’s a lighthearted comedy on the surface and an unspeakable tragedy underneath, never mentioned, only suggested. A coming-of-age story of an uncle and his nephew in the midst of chaos. Casey Affleck is like a dormant volcano ready to erupt any moment. Manchest by the Sea has the potential to become an Oscar upset. 1. LA LA LAND With a record breaking 14 nominations there is a good chance La La Land will sweep the Oscars this year. No film in recent memory has won such accolades, and it’s 32-year old director Damien Chazelle’s second film. This is also the only film from the list released in Dhaka (and still playing).
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