In an attempt to draw attention to films of social significance with progressive content, I developed The Progie Awards. A collective of international film writers, The James Agee Cinema Circle (JACC), named after the prominent 1930s film writer, nominates films and actors for these awards. They’re timed to catch some of the Oscar buzz, hoping to influence Academy members and film lovers about progressive films that have much to offer but risk being overlooked. This year’s Progie nominees are discussed here.
1. THE TRUMBO: The Progie Award for Best Progressive Picture is named after Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for his beliefs and refusing to inform. Trumbo helped break the Blacklist when he received screen credit for “Spartacus” and “Exodus” in 1960.
“Fruitvale Station” (See trailer here.)
2. THE GARFIELD: The Progie Award for Best Actor in a progressive picture is named after John Garfield, who rose from the proletarian theatre to star in progressive pictures such as “Gentleman’s Agreement” and “Force of Evil,” only to run afoul of the Hollywood Blacklist.
Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years a Slave” (See trailer here.)
3. KAREN MORLEY AWARD: The Progie Award for Best Actress in a film portraying women in a progressive picture is named for Karen Morley, co-star of 1932’s “Scarface” and 1934’s “Our Daily Bread.” Morley was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for New York’s lieutenant governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She died in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.
Barbara Sukowa for “Hannah Arendt.” (See trailer here.)
4. THE RENOIR: The Progie Award for Best Anti-War Film is named after the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, who directed the 1937 anti-militarism masterpiece “Grand Illusion.”
“The Act of Killing“ (See trailer here.)
5. THE GILLO: The Progie Award for Best Progressive Foreign Film is named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who lensed the 1960s classics “The Battle of Algiers” and “Burn!”
China’s “A Touch of Sin” (See trailer here.)
Italy’s “The Great Beauty” (See trailer here.)
Slovenia’s “Class Enemy” (See trailer here.)
6. THE DZIGA: The Progie Award for Best Progressive Documentary is named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who directed 1920s nonfiction films such as the “Kino Pravda” (“Film Truth”) series and “The Man With the Movie Camera.”
“The Act of Killing“
7. OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD: The Progie Award for the Most Positive and Inspiring Working Class Screen Image.
“The Angels’ Share“ (See trailer here.)
8. THE ROBESON: The Progie Award for the Best Portrayal of People of Color that shatters cinema stereotypes, in light of their historically demeaning depictions onscreen. It is named after courageous performing legend Paul Robeson, who starred in 1936’s “Song of Freedom” and 1940’s “The Proud Valley,” and narrated 1942’s “Native Land.”
“12 Years a Slave“
9. THE SERGEI: The Progie Award for Lifetime Progressive Achievement On- or Offscreen is named after Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet director of masterpieces such as “Potemkin” and “10 Days That Shook the World.”
John Sayles (See a “Matewan” clip with James Earl Jones and Chris Cooper here.)
Robert Redford (See “The Way We Were” trailer here.)
10. THE BUNUEL: The Progie Award for the Most Slyly Subversive Satirical Cinematic Film in terms of form, style and content is named after Luis Bunuel, the Spanish surrealist who directed 1929’s “The Andalusian Dog,” 1967’s “Belle de Jour” and 1972’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (See the trailer here.)
11. THE PASOLINI: The Progie Award for Best Pro-Gay-Rights Film is named after Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who directed 1964’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” and “The Decameron” and “The Canterbury Tales” in the 1970s.
TV movie: “Behind the Candelabra” (See the trailer here.)
Theatrical release: “Reaching for the Moon” (See the trailer here.)
12. THE LAWSON: The Progie Award for Best Anti-Fascist Film is named after John Howard Lawson, screenwriter of 1938’s anti-Franco “Blockade” and the 1940s anti-Nazi films “Four Sons,” “Action in the North Atlantic,” “Sahara” and “Counter-Attack,” and one of the Hollywood Ten.
13. THE LANGLOIS: For Best Progressive Picture Deserving Theatrical Release in the U.S. and distribution in other countries and platforms is named after film archivist Henri Langlois, co-founder of Paris’ Cinémathèque.
Gore Vidal: The United States of America
Story of Film: An Odyssey
Stranger by the Lake
A Field in England
It Felt Like Love
Swim Little Fish Swim
Forty Years From Yesterday
When I Saw You
The Liberator: Simon Bolivar
My Sweet Pepper Land
Me and You
Winter in the Blood
The Untold History of the United States
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Photo: Michael B. Jordan in a scene from “Fruitvale Station,” winner of the Progie Award for Best Progressive Picture. Fruitvale Station Facebook page