28 Feb 6 Films You Should Watch Even Though the Academy Clearly Didn’t
While some of the best movies of the last 10 years (Parasite, Moonlight, Drive My Car, etc.) have done amazing with the Academy, dozens of phenomenal films (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Uncut Gems, Burning) have been snubbed entirely. Clearly, the Oscars don’t always get it right and every year they fail to acknowledge many of the year’s best, especially when it comes to non-English and independent cinema. This year was no exception and here are some I believe the Academy may come to regret (ok, maybe they won’t be regretting passing on Crimes of the Future).
CRIMES OF THE FUTURE
David Cronenberg’s first full length feature film since 2014’s Maps to the Stars, Crimes to the Future is a return to the director’s bread and butter, noir influenced body horror films, something he hasn’t made since 1999’s eXistenZ (though his son’s Possessor was a welcome taste of the science fiction body horror that must be in the family genetics). Crimes of the Future is the Canadian master’s best since Eastern Promises and stars Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart all in top form. If a movie whose tagline is “surgery is the new sex” is not an instant no for you, this movie has more going on than what meets the eye and is a (mostly) rewarding experience.
Two of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s previous films The White Balloon and This is Not a Film (both worth checking out if you haven’t already) screened at Sewall in early February through Rice Cinema. No Bears is Panahi’s newest feature and sees the humanistic director, who has just recently been released from prison by Iran after being arrested for his polemic and essential work, at the peak of his powers. Panahi, who was censored and jailed for making “propaganda against the state” (This is Not a Film was smuggled out of the country in a flash drive hidden in a cake), has made with No Bears a must-see film that wrestles with what impact his work is really having.
DECISION TO LEAVE
With Parasite’s massive success in 2019, Korean cinema has received an influx of attention in the last few years. As a result, filmmakers like Bong Joon-Ho, Lee Chang-Dong, Hong Sang-Soo, Na Hong-Jin, and Park Chan-Wook who have been putting out exemplary work for over a decade are finally getting the awareness they deserve. Park, the director of modern classics like Oldboy and The Handmaiden, is back with a Hitchcockian romantic thriller following a detective that becomes captivated by the wife of the murdered man. With stunning cinematography from Kim Ji-Yong and a fantastic performance from Tang Wei, this is a film the Academy will likely regret snubbing (Explain to me how every Park film has missed an International Feature nomination?!)
While the Oscars didn’t nominate it anywhere, the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle awarded Nope’s Keke Palmer for her multidimensional work in the film. Jordan Peele’s latest is a mix of horror, mystery, thriller, and western that also happens to be a commentary on everything from our culture’s obsession with spectacle to animal cruelty. Does it work? YES and while it’s not on the level of Peele’s debut Get Out, this genre mashup will leave you entertained both while you’re watching and then during the hours you will be thinking about it afterwards.
Tired of rewatching Game of Thrones and in need of something to satisfy your medieval action drama fix? Look no further because this movie has everything you miss from graphic gore to *ahem* interesting family dynamics! The cast is stacked featuring Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, and Bjork. With this film, The Witch, and The Lighthouse under his belt, director Robert Eggers has quickly become one of the most exciting filmmakers of his generation.
THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS
For The Eight Mountains, Felix van Groeningen, known for emotional human dramas such as the Broken Circle Breakdown and Beautiful Boy, teamed up with past collaborator Charlotte Vandermeersch to direct this incredible retelling of the acclaimed Paolo Cognetti novel of the same name. This passionate ode to platonic love is one of the most criminally overlooked films of the year and one the Academy likely would’ve acknowledged if it was in English. Both Luca Marinelli (‘Martin Eden’, ‘Don’t Be Bad’) and Alessandro Borghi (‘Don’t Be Bad’, ‘On My Skin’) deliver wonderful performances in this winner of last year’s Cannes Jury Prize.