The Lost City of Z (2016)
“There is very little doubt that the forests cover traces of a lost civilisation of a most unsuspected and surprising character” (from a letter of Fawcett to the Royal Geographical Society, December 1921, Grann (2009) at 55).
Based on a great book by David Grann – “The Lost City of Z”, the film tells a true story of Colonel Percy Fawcett, an eminent explorer who believed that there was a hidden ancient civilisation to be found deep in the Amazon jungle and who vanished with his son in the jungle in 1925 while trying to prove its existence. This beautifully-shot film, directed by James Gray, tries to remain faithful to the timeline of the true story as it focuses intensely on the will and determination of Colonel Fawcett, played with dignity and zeal by Charlie Hunnam. The supporting cast is no other than Robert Pattinson as Corporal Costin and Sienna Miller as Fawcett’s wife, but the biggest appeal of the film is probably still the fascinating true story of one explorer on a mission to prove his cause. However, the film’s length is worrying (circa 140 minutes), and, although the film may shine sporadically as a “biography” film, it is largely disappointing as “a jungle adventure” movie. NB. As I will talk at length about the story, there will be spoilers.
If last year the Academy Awards ceremony surprised us all with an unbelievable envelopes’ swap, and hence, provided a lot of entertainment as a result, this year the Academy Awards had the distinction to be so predictable as to verge on absolute boredom. I am glad though that “The Shape of Water” won the Best Picture Award and that “Coco” was considered the Best Animation. However, the question still remains – what injustices the Academy committed this year? What great films and performances it unjustly ignored? The following films, scripts and performances were arguably so good that they should have been acknowledged.
1. “The Florida Project“
First of all, the fact that “The Florida Project” was not among the Best Picture Oscar nominees is one of the greatest Academy Awards’ injustices. This movie was just one of a kind: emotional, inspiring, insightful. Sean Baker has done a tremendous job with a relatively small budget, and the acting was excellent, especially from little star Brooklynn Prince and from Bria Vinaite. The movie was not only well-made, it has a social importance, and, yet, the Academy only nominated Willem Dafoe in the category of the Best Supporting Actor. “The Florida Project” is such a great movie that the Academy should have nominated it not only in the category of the Best Picture, but Sean Baker should have also received his Best Director nomination.
2. “Blade Runner 2049”
For all intents and purposes, “Blade Runner 2049” is the movie of great significance cinema-wise. It was ambitious enough to break from many previous cinema traditions and risked a more thought-provoking, nuanced and aesthetic look/approach. It is definitely the movie to show aliens out there what cinema is capable of here on Earth. It is true that the film’s length is worrying and its story is not that well thought-out, but there were certainly far worse Best Picture nominees in the past. All reason point to “Blade Runner 2049” being recognised in the category of Best Picture. “Get Out” was recognised in the Best Picture category as a mix of horror and social satire, so this science-fiction sequel should also had a chance to compete (on top of its Oscar tech nominations).