Politics as reflected through the prism of a powerful love story between President of Botswana Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and British-born Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). (His subjects referred to her as “the African Queen.”) Director Amma Asante skillfully blends color into her narrative, letting viewers know what part of the world they’re in at all times, thanks in large part to her deployment of light and saturation. We never lose sight of what the couple is standing up against; for a novel change, it’s the love story that drives the politics. Screenwriter Guy Hibbert and Asante pull off a precision balancing act, illuminating the intensity of the love the couple shared and never once allowing their romance to take a back seat to the issues. Had she chosen to take the opposite approach, Asante and company would no doubt be up to their eyeballs in Oscar nominations. As is, this stands taller than any of 2017’s best picture nominees. (2016) — Scott Marks
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