Last month’s Oscars opened new frontiers for Hollywood. Moonlight was the first film to win Best Picture featuring an all-black cast, and Casey Affleck was controversially voted Best Supporting Actor, despite there being numerous harassment claims against him. That wasn’t all. There was more debacle as prior to the Best Picture announcement La La Land was incorrectly named winner. What I see issue with is that pictures like La La Land, and Moonlight receiving 3 and 14 awards respectively; simultaneously close to 1,300 feature films are made every year: surely we’re overlooking some of them?
Although Sean Ellis’ Anthropoid doesn’t fit the generic blueprint of Best Picture winners, it should definitely have been a contender. The film tells the story of two SOE-trained Czech agents who re-enter their Nazi-occupied homeland, in early 1942, with the intention of assassinating ‘the man with the iron heart’ Nazi Reinhard Heydrich. Ellis’ clever distribution of intense music scores at moments when all seems normal is particularly commendable which allows insight into the dark atmosphere in Prague at the time. When it comes to using delayed gratification Ellis is second-to-none allowing the many brave acts of the agents to help enhance deliberation for increased audience anxiety. The Academy needs to break away from the mould which neglects any sort of ‘violent’ film from the awards: particularly as if we’re to fully experience the harsh realities of the past and present we must award stand out material from any genre.
Neo-Nazi infiltration epic Imperium also stands out from last year. Starring Daniel Radcliffe as an undercover FBI agent, it exhibits the very real threat of white supremacist terror in the United States. Looking to emulate the likes of Timothy McVeigh, a supremacist cell intercepts some highly destructive caesium-137, looking to ignite a race war. Quiet and withdrawn, superb Radcliffe provides edge to the potent narrative of Imperium which delves deep into explosive threat of far-right terror in the US. The twists and turns in the plot ensure that Imperium is a scintillating film, which oozes originality and panache.
On the whole the Oscars were a delightful event as usual, but there needs to be more recognition for films which are not the clichéd drama. Even though these films are reputed as being the most eligible for these rewards, we must reform the system allowing voters to consider alternative, less obvious options: like Imperium and Anthropoid.