Directed by acclaimed Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio who is best known for the 2013 Oscar-nominated film Gloria, A Fantastic Woman is a truly fantastic drama that explores the very timely issues surrounding the transgender community and is very much worthy of its 2018 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. The plot follows a young transgender woman named Marina, played by the revelation of a star Daniela Vega in her acting debut, who is in a relationship with a businessman named Orlando, played by Chilean actor Francisco Reyes, who is almost 30 years her senior. After a romantic evening celebrating her birthday, Marina’s life is turned upside down after Orlando becomes seriously sick and passes away after Marina rushes him to the hospital. Already going through a different sort of transition filled with its own set of hardships, her grief is exasperated by the doctors and police who are suspicious of her due to her status as a transgender woman. Further complicating matters, Orlando’s ex-wife and grown-up children want nothing to do with Marina and have always held a discriminatory view of her and what they term as her perverse relationship with Orlando. The film is a beautifully somber portrayal of a misunderstood segment of the population and shows that transgender people experience the same love and pain as “normal” individuals. Vega imbues her absolutely mesmerizing performance with a subtlety and emotional power that helps create a very sympathetic and fierce character that courageously pushes through the ups and downs of life, especially the downs experienced as a result of the prejudiced attitudes held against the LGBT community. Like in his previous work, the filmmaker is remarkably effective in creating strong-willed and mold-breaking female characters whose daily struggles and romantic lives are vividly portrayed without excessive flourish. Overall, I found it to be a terrifically empowering and insightful movie that may very well change many people’s minds about transgender individuals, almost completely owing to newcomer Daniela Vega who gives one of the best acting performances of the year.