While Leonardo DiCaprio's masochistic lead performance garnered greater acclaim, perhaps the most striking aspect of "The Revenant" was the diligence it showed in telling the Native American side of the story. Yet for all the scenes of authentic Arikara dialogue, the indigenous characters in Alejandro G. Inarritu's film were never more than sketches — bit players in a white man's revenge tale.

"The Embrace of the Serpent" ("El Abrazo de la Serpiente"), by the Colombian director Ciro Guerra, offers a much juicier depiction of how the colonization of the New World was viewed by the people being colonized. Far removed from the wintery Pacific-Northwest wilds of "The Revenant," it plunges into the lush depths of the Amazon rainforest, traversing a region that's still unfamiliar to most Colombians today.

The film's story hinges around a pair of real-life figures, German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg and American botanist Richard Evans Schultes, whose writings provide some of the only records of Amazonian tribes and customs that have long since disappeared. However, its main protagonist is a fictional shaman, Karamakate (played, as a younger and older man; respectively, by Nilbio Torres and Antonio Bolivar Salvador), who lives a solitary existence that's informed as much by his dreams as the physical reality around him.