All the critics agree, it was a great year for film-I’m not sure I buy that-I also keep hearing it was a good year for women and minorities in film. But if you look at best picture nominees you, you will see one movie made by a Black auteur and one by a woman, that’s pretty much it.
As for me I didn’t see many films that stayed with me for too long so the Oscar for best picture will not be a nail biter for me. However, how the Oscars are handed out to whom and by whom remains an interesting reflection of the times we live in so let’s talk about them and some others that I can recall with some sense of wonder or annoyance.
We all know that many movies that come out in December are not available for viewing until January, February or March and some you’ll never see on your local marquee unless you live next door to an arthouse where an indy might flash by just prior to making it on a professional critic’s list of the best.
So one of my favorite little movies of this year but actually officially from 2016 was Kedi. It’s Turkish for Cats and is a travelogue-documentary movie about the cats who live in every nook and ancient cranny of Istanbul, seemingly feral but actually attended to by the shopkeepers, waiters, and apartment dwellers of that cat friendly and vibrant metropolis. If you like people or cats or views of ancient architecture set along the Bosphorus leading to the Sea of Marmara-which leads to the Aegean then the Mediterranean-you’ll catch a break while watching this film. BTW, better to visit but for now since the Turkish government reacted to the American government’s restrictions by refusing visas to US residents, you’ll have to wait on that one.
I couldn’t wait to see Get Out and caught it the first weekend. I wasn’t surprised that Jordan Peele made a horror movie because on his show Key and Peele with Keegan-Michael Key, there were many skits in the horror genre, particularly the zombie sketches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xyhVO-SWfM
It’s an iconic film I believe, mostly because it’s one of the few (only?) films that openly pokes fun at American racism from a Black auteur. The sunken place and the title itself that audiences always shout at the screen when the monster is about to burst through the door, etc, are now part of our film lexicon.
There are some disappointments in this genre busting movie–is it horror, is it comedy, is it satire or all of the above? For instance, the build up to horror was always less reliable than the actual scare, much of the movie was tongue-firmly-in-cheek, but at other times the tongue was more loosely-in-cheek and the payoffs were often a little more academic than immediate. It is almost as if Peele wanted to tell us about our own racism and confront us with our stereotypes without offending us too much. It’s thought provoking and entertaining and it’s ultimately one of the movies of this year that will stay with us, possibly until Peele’s next eagerly awaited project.