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September 12, 2013

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From Daily Mail Online, September 8th:

…director Steve McQueen…is dividing viewers with a new film about the horrors of slavery….The movie, 12 Years a Slave, caused a sensation at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend….Critics expect the bold film to score Oscar nominations in multiple categories, including Best Picture.

I’ve been seeking out other movies that I believe will be award-worthy when the Oscar ceremonies come around next March. Here are a few of my favorites, with plot summaries.

Afratar. A group of African Americans, weary of groaning under the heel of white privilege and fearful for the lives of their children at the hands of trigger-happy racist cops, have built a starship and fled to a distant solar system. There they have colonized a planet, which they have named Sha’Quaynelle, and established a peaceful and prosperous society.

“I’ve been seeking out other movies that I believe will be award-worthy when the Oscar ceremonies come around next March. Here are a few of my favorites, with plot summaries.”

Just as the Sha’Quaynellians are engrossed in the annual planet-wide chamber music competition, a fleet of ships from a large mining corporation arrives, crewed entirely by white men chewing tobacco and speaking with Southern accents. They want to plunder Sha’Quaynelle for its mineral wealth. The Sha’Quaynellians are forced to flee the clean, beautiful cities they have built and take to guerilla warfare in the forests.

A heroic Sha’Quaynellian physicist discovers a way to nullify the invaders’ technology and cut off their communication with Earth, defeating them at last. In the closing scenes we see the evil white invaders being used by the Sha’Quaynellians as beasts of burden while they rebuild their cities.

“A searing indictment of American racism.” —Christian Science Monitor

The Bling Side. Wealthy white Aaron, who owns a chain of jewelry stores, and his wife Sharon take in Henry, an African American orphan they find sleeping in the street. Soon Henry is living permanently in their house. Inquiring into his school records, they find that while Henry has failed all his courses, Henry’s teachers have remarked on his wonderful sense of rhythm. Sharon thereupon embarks on a project to turn Henry into a rap star.

There are many setbacks. Sharon’s wealthy white girlfriends mock her for taking in Henry. When one of them calls her a “n*****-lover,” she breaks off the friendship. Aaron is wounded by gunfire when masked men rob one of his stores. Police suspect Henry is involved, but Aaron’s brother Jake, a lawyer, is able to show that the criminals are a white Baptist gang from a nearby trailer park. At last Henry achieves worldwide fame as rap artist Wa Za Banga, showcasing Aaron’s jewelry in his stage performances.

“Heartwarming.” —Commentary

The Kelp. Set in the American South during the Civil Rights era, the movie, from a best-selling novel of the same name, shows the tensions between privileged white women and their African American domestic servants. When it is discovered that the servants have been putting first seaweed, then their own saliva into the food they prepare for their white mistresses, the servants are all dismissed. Illegal Mexican immigrants are hired to do their work at even lower wages, with one day off a month.