The Best Downer Movies 2017

You may have noticed a new feature popping up over the last few months at Philosophers' Corner: #FrancisOnFilm. Leslie Francis is a professor of philosophy and of law at the University of Utah, where her fields include applied ethics of all types, disability, philosophy of law, and law and health care. She's also a film nerd whom we recruited to be Philosophy Talk's movie blogger and critic. In addition to offering regular dispatches from the back of the cinema, Leslie and Ken will occasionally get in front of the microphones to take a philosophical lens to the movies on their minds. The Oscars offered an obvious place to start, and so over two sessions they discussed four of this year's Best Picture Nominees. Their first conversation (before the awards) focused on Manchester By the Sea and Fences:

After the awards, they picked things up again by talking about Come Hell or High Water and Moonlight:

Both conversations were pretty wide-ranging. Leslie and Ken ask what each of the movies says about agency and identity, whether the relevant storyline is a tale of triumph or defeat of the spirit, whether there are wounds that cannot be healed, and how one goes on when one’s spirit has been deeply wounded -- as a result of either one’s own action or a hostile world that rejects one's identity. They also touch briefly on the nature of art and narrative along the way.