5. Embrace of the Serpent
Box office: $1.3 million
Nominated for a 2016 Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category, Ciro Guerra's film set in the Colombian Amazon charts two eras of scientists visiting the same area 30 years apart in search of a rare jungle hallucinogen, yakruna. In both stories, the focal character is local shaman, Karamakate. Theo (Jan Bijvoet) plays the 1909 researcher; when we meet him he's sick and in need of Karamakate's special powers. In 1940, Evan (Brionne Davis) finds Karamakate weary from years of exploitation by rubber barons. Their trip on the river is harrowing and reminds of Apocalypse Now. Shot almost entirely in back & white, Embrace has a documentary feel and a compelling narrative story.