By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Among our best movies of the year, you’ll find a superhero movie, a revenge drama, a fantasy love story, a historical tale and a superb horror flick. These are original, memorable, and enthralling films that caught our attention this year and serve to remind us why buying a $15 movie ticket is still worth it.
The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) named it the best film of 2017 and we certainly agree with this choice. Beautiful, heartbreaking and remarkable, this dramatic tale of race looks at life on a rural Mississippi farm in post-World War II America. Directed by Dee Rees (“Pariah”), it stars Mary J. Blige and contains themes of race and class that are sadly still very relevant in today’s world.
Jordan Peele’s artistic thriller “Get Out” was a big winner for members of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA). It scooped up Best Film, Best Directing, Best Acting for lead actor Daniel Kaluuya and a Best Screenplay recognition from the world’s largest group of professional black film critics. Peele’s directional debut about a young black man visiting his white girlfriend’s family for the first time was made for only $4.5 million and grossed over $150 million domestically.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand’s engagingly acerbic performance as a grieving mother who’s still dealing with rage and guilt over the murder of her teenage daughter is what drives this flick. Disgusted with the local police department’s lack of progress in finding the culprit, she rents three billboards by the roadside to call out the local Sheriff. It’s memorable, clever and boldly conceived and McDormand’s performance has already earned her numerous award nominations.
A drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots in which a group of rogue police officers callously brutalize several black American men, it’s a bitter and harsh portrait of a tragic real life event. Powerful and disturbing, it explores yet another painful racist chapter in America’s history and it is an important statement and well documented drama about a time and a condition that should not be forgotten.
The Shape of Water
Director Guillermo del Toro’s viscerally expressive fairy tale is set in 1962 America and tells the story of a mute janitor who falls in love with a magical creature. It’s beautifully designed and explores themes of power, anger, intolerance as well as loneliness and determination. Del Toro has also assembled an extraordinary collection of actors for the film that includes Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer.
The Boss Baby
A clever, appealing comedy for all ages, it’s a hilariously universal story about how a new baby's arrival impacts a family and is told from the point of view of a delightfully, wildly imaginative 7-year-old named Tim. With a sly, heart-filled message about the importance of family this is one authentic and original film.
In the Fade
A German drama directed by Fatih Akin, this disturbing movie about grief follows Diane Kruger in her first German language film as she seeks justice after her six-year old son and husband are killed by terrorists. Kruger’s gripping portrayal earned her a Best Actress prize at Cannes this year.
It is impossible to avoid being tugged into this compelling human drama, which has been prompted by an endless stream of high profile exonerations. Based on the true story of a Caribbean immigrant who spent decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Lakeith Stanfield (“Straight Outta Compton”) and former NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha star.
Patty Jenkin’s big-screen feature which focuses on the Amazonian superhero is inspiring. With the saturation of male superheroes on our screens, this girl power flick clearly stands out and shows that a female-focused superhero movie can be as strong, heroic, thrilling and popular, as shown by the box office numbers.
Films explicitly about black history in America are few and far between. Winner of the Chicago International Film Festival Audience Award, “Marshall,” which is based on the true story of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, is directed by Reginald Hudlin and stars Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown and Kate Hudson. It tells the story of Marshall’s greatest challenge in the 1930s working as a lawyer for NAACP’s Baltimore division.
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