As we eagerly await the upcoming British Academy of Film and Television- BAFTA Awards on February 18th, 2024, I, as a BAFTA member, am thrilled to share some of the exceptional films I’ve enjoyed watching from the extensive list of over 200 nominations for 2023/4. This past year has been truly outstanding for both feature films and documentaries.
As a voting member, I can’t help but ponder how many of my favourites will make it to the final selection, given the intervention strategy implemented by BAFTA in 2020 to address diversity concerns through appointed juries. It’s disheartening to witness numerous deserving foreign-language films and international documentaries not making the final cut.
I believe it’s time for a reassessment of our selection processes. While the intention behind appointed juries may have been noble, the current system inadvertently excludes deserving works. Perhaps alternatives that ensure a more inclusive representation of diverse voices and perspectives within the final nominations are worth considering.
I remain hopeful that BAFTA will continue to evolve its processes in the pursuit of fairness and excellence in film recognition. Nevertheless, I look forward to the upcoming awards ceremony and celebrating the incredible talent showcased this past year.
Here are some of my favourite FEATURE FILMS and DOCUMENTARIES from 2023/4.
AIR reveals the unprecedented partnership between rookie Michael Jordan and Nike to create the Air Jordan brand. It follows the gamble of an unconventional team, the uncompromising vision of a mother who knows her son’s worth, and one of the greatest basketball phenoms ever.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/Euy4Yu6B3nU?si=OFJ4deOhBmu9-JOG
For the past year, Sandra, a German writer, her husband Samuel, and their son Daniel have lived a secluded life in a remote town in the French Alps. When Samuel is found dead in the snow below their chalet, the police question whether he committed suicide or was killed. Samuel’s death is treated as suspicious, presumed murder, and Sandra becomes the main suspect.
Watch trailer here: https://youtu.be/_MdTMA0PetA?si=AZ4PFaHjZORmQpY_
Io Capitano tells the story of the adventurous journey of Seydou and Moussa, two young men who leave Dakar to make their way to Europe. A contemporary Odyssey through the dangers of the desert, the horrors of the detention centers in Libya and the perils of the sea.
Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/idErmD0bA_M?si=nAk7whGh6rQt_31w
Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/LeI-4eWvqwU?si=IRP4btjOuI8c6ATT
“Tetris” tells the unbelievable story of how one of the world’s most popular video games found its way to avid players around the globe. Henk Rogers discovers TETRIS in 1988, and then risks everything by traveling to the Soviet Union, where he joins forces with inventor Alexey Pajitnov to bring the game to the masses.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/-BLM1naCfME?si=SRfVKAwvhw71tAzI
At the turn of the 20th century, oil had brought immense fortune to the Osage Nation, attracting shockingly brazen and greedy outsiders. Based on a true story and told through a real life improbable romance, Killers of The Flower Moon is both a western crime epic and a story of love and betrayal.
Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/EP34Yoxs3FQ?si=cwKDJU0VJrA6p3Gt
A portrayal of ambition, love, and the cost of absolute power, Napoleon is an epic that details the rise and fall of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The film captures his relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his wife, Josephine.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/OAZWXUkrjPc?si=1X7rEe7iQpUTm1Fv
Oppenheimer is an epic thriller that thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it. Oppenheimer is a provocative film that challenges its audience to question the consequences of scientific advancements, power and the responsibility that comes with knowledge. The cinematography is a visually spectacular experience, a film I will watch many times.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/uYPbbksJxIg?si=C-SQg7W2X-4EWfLf
In 1755, the impoverished Captain Ludvig Kahlen sets out to conquer the uninhabitable Danish heath in the name of the King. But the sole ruler of the area, the merciless Frederik de Schinkel, who believes the land belongs to him, swears revenge when the maid Ann Barbara and her serf husband escape for refuge with Kahlen.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/vuo4NVFt1JE?si=p7vUIsuOAmpz4hy5
In 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which had been chartered to fly a rugby team to Chile, crashed in the heart of the Andes. Only 29 of its 45 passengers survived the accident. Trapped in one of the most hostile and inaccessible environments on the planet, they have to resort to extreme measures to stay alive.
Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/pDak4qLyF4Q?si=pS6iM59AEAlmZu0A
Rye Lane is a romantic comedy about Dom and Yas, two twenty-somethings both reeling from bad break-ups who connect over the course of an eventful day in South London, helping each other deal with their nightmare exes, and potentially restoring their faith in romance.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/SqcF_GI3mOA?si=AEHm39PFkOghvnSF
Donya is a young Afghan who has moved to Fremont, CA, after serving as a translator for the American army. She spends her days working at a fortune cookie factory and her nights awake battling between her desire to rebuild her life and the overbearing guilt she carries within. In a bid to connect with the world, she sends an unconventional message through a fortune cookie.
Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/t0XjLYsyIwU?si=W2MYKKN5oRNLrOl-
Told in his own words with a mix of archival and scripted elements, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie recounts Fox’s rise to stardom in 1980s Hollywood. The look at his public life unspools alongside his private journey, including the years following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/yHgMSR4F1Ak?si=ncW2vMFa8hKe-35m
A portrait of the lengths people will go to win freedom, Beyond Utopia raises the curtain on life in North Korea as no film has done before. This suspenseful documentary unfolds like a real-time geo-political thriller, following the efforts of a devoted pastor whose underground network serves as the only hope for Koreans desperate to escape a life of oppression.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/-D-WVu35oPM?si=rgJlNfB2lDbvojCm
The story of a champion freediver and expert safety diver, whose lives seemed fated to converge at the height of their careers. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/MzH6BI6P4Uo?si=yypLiALcR3VuZS85
In To Kill a Tiger, Ranjit, a farmer in Jharkhand, India, takes on the fight of his life when he demands justice for his 13-year-old daughter, the survivor of sexual assault. In India, where rape is reported every 20 minutes and conviction rates are less than 30 percent, Ranjit’s decision to support his daughter is virtually unheard of, and his journey is unprecedented.
Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/mC6-igJ_WWM?si=KirOpV9kf_w0BPnV