Oscar Documentaries And A Foreign Language Film We Loved

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James Baldwin in <em>I Am Not Your Negro</em>

Oscar season is upon us, and very often, it's a time when a lot of energy goes into analyzing a few races and a few of the highest-profile films as they square off against each other. We'll be doing that too in a couple of weeks, in our annual Oscars roundup. But first, we wanted to celebrate the season in a different way: by looking at some of the categories that sometimes fly a little under the radar, ours included.

First up, we have a segment surveying the five Oscar-nominated documentary features: 13th, Ava DuVernay's examination of race and criminal justice; I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck's marvelous piece based on the work of James Baldwin that Bob Mondello (our fourth chair this week) and I have raved about since September; O.J.: Made In America, to which we devoted a full segment earlier; Fire At Sea, a deliberate meditation on life on a Sicilian island that often becomes a landing spot for refugees and other migrants; and Life Animated, a film about a man with autism who finds avenues of communication in Disney films. All are very much worth watching, and we try to draw some distinctions in style and tone, mostly in service of telling you that ... well, these are all very much worth watching.

Our other segment today takes us into the Foreign Language Film category, where we all watched The Salesman, Iran's entry into the Oscars this year from director Asghar Farhadi — who previously won for A Separation, but who won't be present to accept this year because of the travel and visa ban that currently doesn't allow him to enter the United States.

As always, we close the show with what's making us happy this week. Stephen is happy about a comedy about which I'm proud to say he concluded I was right. Glen is happy about having interviewed someone he literally has wanted to talk to since his youth. Bob is happy about the memoirs of a man he's long admired. And I'm happy about a great, great book and a great, great poem.

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