Best Film About Masculinity
This is not a film which needs much more publicity than it has already received, it was the deserving winner of the Best Picture Oscar after all, but MOONLIGHT definitely deserves a huge amount of credit for the way it portrayed a young man growing up with a sexuality which was not easily accepted among his peers. All three actors who played the part of Chiron managed to use beautiful nuance and subtlety to portray the challenges faced by a male who doesn’t exhibit the specific type of masculinity expected of him by his society.
Special mention also to 20th Century Women which was far more light-hearted, but nevertheless an interesting depiction of a boy growing up and discovering the ways in which society treats women and the importance of feminism!
Best True Story Shown on Film
HIDDEN FIGURES is a film that shines a spotlight on the women who worked at NASA and how their intellect, dedication and drive enabled the United States to put the first American in space. It follows the incredible, though far from unique, true stories of three African-American workers as they each negotiate cultural-wide sexism and racism, whilst striving for opportunities to shine in their chosen fields; their names are Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. In seeking to redress the gender stereotyping and the white-washing that NASA and Hollywood have allowed in telling ‘the greatest endeavor of humankind to date’, Hidden Figures is perfectly pitched, shining a light on injustice and division without resorting to shock tactics. Coming at a time when race and gender in the US are now once again on everyone’s lips, this film shows us a history that America has moved on from but also where it still is in many ways.
NARGES RASHIDI in the terrifying Under the Shadow. Under the Shadow expertly weaved political commentary into a genuinely scary ghost story, telling the story of a former medical student and her young daughter living in an under-siege apartment in 1980s Tehran, during the Iran-Iraq war. The ghost story is set against a backdrop of political and social oppression of Iranian women – at one point Rashidi’s character Shideh runs into the street in fear, only to be arrested by a police patrol for not being properly covered as a woman. Rashidi is able to convey a sense of fear and strength during the ‘supernatural’ occurrences, while also displaying honest stoicism, anger and frustration at the social and political events swirling in the background, while also showing an unbreakable bond and desire to protect towards her daughter, also played brilliantly by Avin Manshadi. Despite the chills, it was Rashidi’s portrayal of Shideh which really lodged in the conscience.
Making a film close to 3 hours in length where on the face of it, not a whole lot happens, and managing to make it compelling throughout the whole running time, is almost a work of sorcery, yet ANDREA ARNOLD seems to have pulled it off with American Honey. The understated American road-movie about a traveling crew of teenage magazine sellers didn’t achieve huge publicity and not a particularly wide distribution, but word-of-mouth and good reviews meant this picture developed a cult fan-base, the least of what it deserved.
The director also deserves huge credit for her role in the casting process. Sasha Lane wasn’t even an actor before Arnold spotted her on a beach and asked her to audition for her new film, but after watching almost 3 hours of Lane in American Honey, you’d never know it. Lane is on-screen for almost every scene of the film, but she exudes a compelling energy and emotion which holds your attention throughout. It’s exciting to think what she may be capable of in the future if this is only her debut.
This Turkish-French production was nominated for an Oscar in the Foreign Language category, eventually losing out to Son of Saul, but MUSTANG hasn’t missed out on the biggest prize of all; the TIGER award for Best Film! The story follows five sisters growing up in a small Turkish village, whilst enduring a domineering and patriarchal home life and society. Confronting issues such as arranged marriages, the oppressive restriction of girls’ autonomy and the pervasive power of tradition, it was refreshing to see this particular coming-of-age story being told in a market over-saturated with stories about white, cis, men (Mustang entered cinemas around the same time as Richard Linklater’s American jock-fest ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’). The Bechdel Test continues to demonstrate how rare it STILL is for stories about girls and women to make it to cinema screens, which makes a film such as Mustang shine even brighter.
Best TV series
Sense8 is a smart, funny, thoroughly original modern sci-fi, written and directed by the Wachowski's of 'The Matrix' fame. Told through the shared lens of a completely equally gender split ensemble cast of eight beautifully diverse and interesting human stories, this show would already be pretty close to being recognised with a TIGER award, but the cherry on the cake of fantastic representation is the character of Nomi Marks, a trans woman character, played by a trans woman, written by trans women, whose plots do not solely base around the fact she is trans. It's all we've ever wanted, really.
Special Radio Award: The Archers; Helen and Rob story-line
This story-line revolving around the continued and escalating domestic abuse of Helen Titchener by her husband Rob had been brewing for almost 3 years before finally coming to a head with the much publicised court case in the autumn of 2016. Stories involving domestic abuse and the victimisation of women can often be problematic and frequently slip into using abused women simply as plot devices or opportunities for men to save the day, but this story-line was different. The sheer depth of the plot, cultivated over such an extended period, gave us a real insight into how an abusive relationship can be so insidious and remain unrecognised by both outsiders and victims. It showed examples of gaslighting and isolating tactics and demonstrated that domestic abuse isn’t always overt physical violence. When listeners were first introduced to Rob, he wasn’t immediately signposted as a ‘wrongun’, he seemed like a normal bloke. This was an important point as it showed how easy it is to convince ourselves that only cartoon-like monsters commit domestic abuse. The trial itself also offered a fascinating view of the jury deliberations and how many people still hold worrying prejudices and tend towards blaming the victims, or automatically believing men over women. This was an important depiction of an incredibly important issue.
So, there are the awards! Let us know what you think deserved to win an award over the last 12 months. Did we get anything wrong, or right?