Each year the nonprofit Moving Picture Institute announces its Liberty in Film awards, which honor major, recent films that effectively promote freedom and human rights. This year's winners are:
Best Picture: Bridge of Spies.
"Choosing principles over politics."
In six-time Oscar-nominated Bridge of Spies, an American lawyer (Tom Hanks) is recruited to defend a Soviet spy during the Cold War. Later, the CIA recruits him to negotiate a Soviet Union prisoner swap, involving the spy he recently defended and an American pilot. Throughout the film, the attorney's dedication to his ethics, human rights, and the Constitution trump political and community pressure to betray his conscience and the rule of law. Showing that principled heroes don't just exist in the movies, Bridge of Spies is based on a true story.
Best Female Character: Joy Mangano, Joy.
"Examining the joy of entrepreneurship."
Joy takes an inspirational look at self-made millionaire Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), the inventor of the Miracle Mop and Home Shopping Network and QVC star. Coming from humble beginnings, Joy was a divorced mother with three children before she built her business empire. The film reminds viewers that entrepreneurship is hard work that can pay off and change the world.
Best Male Character: Adonis Creed, Creed.
"Using passion and persistence to become who you are."
In the Oscar-nominated Creed -- the latest installment of the Rocky series -- Apollo Creed's son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) fights to build a legacy of his own in the boxing ring. With tireless work ethic and persistence, he overcomes a troubled childhood and rejects a subsequent comfortable lifestyle for the chance to become a champion in his own right. Ignoring the doubters, he follows his passion to ultimately find success in the ring and his own identity.
Worst Villain: Immortan Joe, Mad Max: Fury Road.
"Exploring the ramifications of a tyrant with a monopoly."
In the latest Oscar-nominated iteration of Mad Max, Immortan Joe leads a totalitarian state that controls vital natural resources, including water. Immortan Joe effectively enslaves his people by controlling access to these resources. The only property rights he respects are the ones he asserts over his multiple wives. His rule exemplifies the decay of liberty, innovation, and quality of life that occurs when one man has absolute power.
Fan Favorite: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.
"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
In the final installment of the Hunger Games films, Katniss Everdeen must not only destroy the oppressive Capitol, but must also decide whether she will support a new regime poised to repeat the Capitol's atrocities. Faced with the ultimate "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"ÃâÃÂ moment, Katniss chooses to end the cycle of oppression, return power to the people, and find renewed happiness.
Spirit of Ideas: Chuck Norris vs. Communism.
"Showing art's power to liberate closed societies."
Documentary film Chuck Norris vs. Communism presents interviews and compelling reenactments to tell the story of how a VHS bootlegger and a state translator risked everything to smuggle films behind the Iron Curtain. Together, they helped start an underground market for western films in culturally isolated communist Romania. Even arguably cheesy action films prepared viewers for political action and inspired a generation to view themselves as the heroes in their own stories.
Best Documentary: Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom.
"Embodying the struggle for freedom today."
The Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, gives first-hand accounts and shocking footage of the 2013-2014 Euromaidan protests in Ukraine. During a one-hundred-day period, protesters sought to remove then-President Viktor Yanukovych, who they believed betrayed the public, in part by rejecting a trade deal with the European Union. The protestors faced brutal police treatment and remind viewers that freedom of speech and association are precious but by no means guaranteed around the world.
Best Foreign: Son of Saul.
"Revealing that, even in extreme situations, freedom can find a way."
This Oscar-nominated film from Hungary follows an Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, Saul Auslaender. Part of the Sonderkommando, the prisoners tasked with disposing of gassed corpses, he discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. In the quest to give the body a proper Jewish burial, Saul fights for his beliefs and human rights in a horrific and oppressive setting.
The Best of Enemies (how politics makes us worse), Spotlight (freedom of the press), Suffragette (voting rights), Cartel Land (effects of the drug war), Room (life absent freedom).