And the Oscar goes to… every one of these movies if it were up to us.
It’s that time of year again — the Academy Awards have arrived and like you, we’ve got movies on our mind. Since its inception, film has been a powerful tool to help us learn about and change our perspectives on our world, our place in it, and the people around us. Movies can serve as a way to explore complex themes that affect us all, and many of the films being honored at this year’s Oscars do just that.
However, for each important movie nominated this year, there was a movie snubbed that touched on some equally significant themes. While we recognize and applaud the films that are up for that golden statue this year, we also think it’s essential to recognize and applaud the films that didn’t make it on the list, but still have so much to give.
So grab your popcorn, and let’s chat through a few nominated and snubbed films from the last year that we think every Global Citizen should watch.
Black Voices Telling Black Stories
In 2022 we were blessed with two epic showcases of Black excellence that are fully deserving of every accolade award season has to give, and naturally, we have to talk about them. The outpouring of love for both of these movies from the Black community is all the evidence you need to show why diversity in storytelling matters. For far too long in film, Black stories have been written by white people, and it shows.
That’s why these two films are so special — from the screenplays, to the direction, to the performances, Black people are telling their own stories in ways that only they know how.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
It’s no secret that we're huge fans of the Black Panther film series, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is no exception. However this movie is far more than just another blockbuster superhero movie; it’s a love letter to the Black community. Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever touches on a number of real social issues facing Black people around the world — from the need to empower Black women, to supporting Indigenous peoples' fights for their rightful land.
The Black Panther sequel is chock full of incredible Black talent giving career-defining performances, with Angela Bassett receiving a nomination for her role as Queen Ramonda. Our only gripe is that this film — and the people who are part of it — should’ve received far more Oscars praise than it did, not just for its performances, but also for its storytelling, its world building, its themes, and its entertainment value.
The Woman King
This snub hit hard, and not just because we are fiercely protective of Viola Davis. The Woman King tells the true story of the Agojie, an all-female army that existed in West Africa from the 1600s to the end of the 1800s as part of the military forces in the Kingdom of Dahomey.
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood weaves a beautiful, compelling story about this group of women and the obstacles they face. Viola Davis, to no one's surprise, gives an Oscar-worthy performance bringing both a compelling strength and a beautiful softness to her role as General Nanisca. Similar to Wakanda Forever, The Woman King is a celebration of Black and African culture and serves as an example of why we need Black people to tell their own stories. What’s more is that it brought African talent to the foreground, a still-too-rare phenomenon in Hollywood storytelling, by filling out its cast with the likes of Thuso Mbedu, Siv Ngesi, and Angélique Kidjo.
The Power of Mothers
Mothers are the glue that holds our society together. In addition to literally creating life, they often become the first educators and the first role models for each generation. These two films are necessary viewing for all Global Citizens and serve as a reminder of the importance of empowering and supporting women — especially mothers — around the world.
Steven Spielberg‘s semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans is a beautiful coming-of-age story that centers around a young boy named Sammy (based on Spielberg himself) who has fallen in love with the world of film.
While this film serves as an ode to the old movies that shaped Spielberg, it also tells the story of the impact that Spielberg’s mother had on his growth as both a director and human being. Often, film depictions of mothers are one-dimensional, routinely showing that mothers must be one thing and one thing only, the sum of their children — but the character of Sammy’s mother, Mitzi Fabelman, is different. Michelle Williams, who plays Mitzi, shared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “They let her live as a woman, not just as a mother. Everything that she did, she did completely.”
We are thrilled to see a film that shows a dynamic, powerful mother figure nominated in this year’s Academy Awards.
Till is a story that needs to be told far and wide, which makes it even more disappointing that it didn’t receive a single Oscar nomination this year.
It centers around the historically horrific murder of Emmett Till, who was brutally lynched in 1955 while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. Till’s story has been told before in many different ways, but Till’s director, Chinonye Chukwu, took this story in a new and profoundly emotional direction. Till tells the true story of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and her relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son. It’s not just historical storytelling, but a vivid account of what motherhood looks like in the face of injustice.
With a whopping 96% on Rotten Tomatoes’ "TOMATOMETER", it’s clear that this film deserved far more attention than it was given this awards season.
Bringing Unheard Voices to the Silver Screen
Documentaries offer a unique opportunity to learn about real-world stories that are overlooked by society and often encourage us as viewers to continue learning about an issue long after the credits roll. When done right, documentaries teach us about lived experiences that are not our own, in hopes of creating a more empathetic and just world.
A House Made Of Splinters
Over the past year, the war against Ukraine has brought unimaginable suffering and devastation to the country and its people. However, as is so often the case during times of conflict, the impacts on children are widespread and, unfortunately, not talked about nearly enough. In the Oscar-nominated documentary A House Made of Splinters, filmmaker Simon Lereng Wilmont returns to Ukraine to share the story of a small group of passionate social workers working in an orphanage for children who have been removed from their homes while awaiting court custody decisions.
Against all odds, this formidable group of social workers fight tirelessly to create a safe and supportive environment for the children staying in their care while the state decides the future of each child and family. The effects of conflict and crisis on children’s development and education, and its impact for generations to come, are not spoken about nearly enough, and we’re so glad to see this issue getting the widespread attention it deserves.
I Didn't See You There
Speaking of stories that are often left out of the conversation, in I Didn't See You There, Reid Davenport shares his experience as a disabled person living in an acutely ableist society.
Throughout the film, Davenport confronts the history of disability and how people with disabilities have been, and continue to be, written out of the narrative and left out of history books. With the camera mounted to the filmmaker’s wheelchair, for an hour and 17 minutes, the viewer navigates the world right alongside Davenport, providing an intimate perspective of day-to-day life. The key to creating a more accessible world is to listen to the needs and wants of the disabled community and ensure they get the mic, or in this case camera, so they can share their stories.
Although we’re disappointed that I Didn't See You There was left off the Oscar nominees list, we're happy to say it did get some well-deserved recognition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival as well as a number of other festivals around the world.