Director Sean Baker has proven himself to be one of the most interesting new voices working in American independent cinema. Baker’s past four features have included naturalist New York portraits (Take Out, Prince of Broadway) and sun-soaked Los Angeles character studies (Starlet, Tangerine) that have established his talent for crafting intimate neorealist examinations of lives and communities that are rarely captured on-screen. With his latest, Tangerine, Baker has made his most vibrant and critically acclaimed film yet. Starring the dynamic newcomers Mya Taylor (who recently won a Gotham Award for breakthrough actor) and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, the film portrays a day in the life of two transgender sex workers as they walk the streets of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. The film, which is one part screwball revenge comedy and one part moving portrait of female friendship, was remarkably shot on an iPhone 5s. It’s now also making Hollywood history: Magnolia Pictures has launched Oscar-nomination campaigns for Rodriguez and Taylor—for best actress and best supporting actress—marking the first time a film distributor has backed the Oscar campaign of a transgender actor.
We were thrilled to have Baker stop by Criterion last week for a visit and a look inside our film closet. Above, check out the wide-ranging selection of films he chose to take with him—and watch Tangerine on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.