It's time for the Oscars yet again. And while some of the movies who earned nominations for Best Picture this year are truly deserving, it's also fair to say that the movies on the list aren't necessarily the best movies made last year. Foreign films, indie flicks, documentaries, and comedies all tend to get overlooked in favour of American movies supported by the kind of studios who can afford to bankroll a major Oscar campaign. So, in the spirit of giving some attention to some of the best films who don't stand a chance of walking away with the Academy's most important statue, here are ten other movies that should be up for Best Picture:
SHORT TERM 12
THE SPECTACULAR NOW
GIMME THE LOOT
According to Wikipedia, Before Sunrise is one of the movies that inspired those mumblecore flicks like Drinking Buddies. And 2013 saw another new sequel to the film starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Nine years have passed since we last saw them in Before Sunset; they're married now, with children, older and more jaded. Where the first two films concentrated on the romance of their relationship, the third is more difficult: finding them at a moment when their marriage is in trouble. Just like in the first two films, though, the acting and dialogue are incredible. So much so that Before Midnight did manage to earn one Oscar nomination: for Best Adapted Screenplay. (Adapted? Huh?)
THE GREAT BEAUTY
One of the most ambitious movies of the year is without a doubt the spectacular Italian film, The Great Beauty. It's like a 21st century version of Fellini's La Dolce Vita — all opulent parties and late night musing, glitz and glamour just a way of briefly escaping life's most unsettling questions. It stars Tony Servillo as the aging writer and critic Jep Gambardella, who has only ever written one book and is wrestling with memories of his youth. The Great Beauty actually did earn a nomination at this year's Oscars: it's up for Best Foreign Language Film but not for Best Picture. As usual, we're supposed to be believe that all of the best movies of the year just happened to be made in English.
THE ACT OF KILLING
Meanwhile, it also seems silly that documentaries are stuck in their own little ghetto of a category. The Act of Killing is without a doubt one of the most memorable films of 2013, period. It's up for Best Documentary, but not Best Picture. It was filmed in Indonesia, where a repressive government is still in power after a long history of murdering those who oppose them. The filmmakers find some of the men responsible for the mass killings that took place in the 1960s — a million people died — and they ask the executioners to recreate the scenes of the murders they committed. The results are stunning.
CALL ME KUCHU
Another one of last year's most powerful — and upsetting — documentaries was Call Me Kuchu. In fact, it's one of the most disturbing documentaries I've ever seen. It tells the story of gay rights activists in Uganda, fighting for their lives in a country where homosexuality is seen as a crime worthy of hanging. The film centers around the incredibly warm and friendly David Kato. He will soon be bludgeoned to death with a hammer because he dares to stand up for his civil rights. At a time when Uganda is making the news again for passing ever more terrifyingly homophobic laws, it seems especially sad that the film didn't capture the Academy's attention.
THIS IS THE END
Waaaaaay on the other end of the movie spectrum, comedies also have a hard time breaking into the Best Picture category. I mean, This Is End clearly isn't going to change the world or teach us much of anything at all. But few films in 2013 were more fun to watch than the one in which Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel try to survive the apocalypse at James Franco's house.
AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME
It would be easy to dismiss An Adventure In Space and Time as something only Doctor Who fans would be interested in. It was released in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the British science-fiction show and tells the story of its creation. But it's much more than fan-bait: it's an inspiring and heartbreaking drama. The people who developed the show back in 1963 were breaking all kinds of new ground: a Torontonian television executive with revolutionary ideas about storytelling; the first female producer at the BBC; the network's first Indian-born director (who also happened to be gay). And best of all: David Bradley's performance as William Hartnell, the show's first star, struggling to continue in the face of his failing memory and advancing years. Whether you're a Whovian or not, An Adventure In Space and Time is truly great.