Thirteen days have now passed since the 90th Academy Awards, and most of us have now come to terms with the fact that the greatest achievement in cinema in 2017 (according to those who know) is a movie featuring a very questionable intimate scene between a woman and a fish. However, on the list of winners there are a few that shine a little bit brighter, but due to their obscurity don't often receive the audience they deserve. Giving a movie a nomination, however, gives it a larger platform, and a greater chance of being seen - even more so if it ends up bringing home the golden statue. For this reason, specifically, the two categories ‘Best Documentary Feature’ and ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ have always been of interest.
In the case of the former, let’s face it: not a lot of us can say that we actively go and watch documentaries rather than a new blockbuster. It takes a lot of nominations for a documentary to gain the public recognition that would greet an equivalent fictional feature. This year’s nominees covered a wide range of subjects from a small company criminally indicted following the 2008 financial crisis; the bravery of some individuals amid the Syrian civil war; and a brother’s examination of the judicial system that allowed his brother’s murderer to go free. These movies all cover crucial topics, and they all do it with an individual take on their subject matter, illustrating that documentaries do not have to be as dull as the ones many of us were unfortunately shown in elementary school.
Whilst the contenders were all strong, there could only be one winner; and what a winner it was. Netflix produced documentary Icarus snagged the Oscar. Full of twists and turns, this documentary so effectively keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats that it may as well have been an action-packed blockbuster. Instead of writing too much about it I urge everyone who has hijacked a friend’s Netflix account to watch it as soon as possible.
This brings us onto the category of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’. Originally being from Sweden, I couldn’t help but root for the Square. However, in many regards, the actual winner of the Oscar was the more deserving and more timely film. In addition to its gripping story, A Fantastic Woman features a brilliant performance by the talented Daniela Vega, the first openly transgender performer to take the stage during the Awards Ceremony. Whilst transgender rights were heavily discussed after The Danish Girl’s many nominations, A Fantastic Woman’s victory is a progressive, and important step in the history of cinema all over the world.
So, let us raise a glass for these ground-breaking winners. Although there were many other worthy winners, (and some less worthy), it is time to give some extra recognition to the creators paving the way for the future of motion pictures.