The latest black films offer something for everyone — comedy, drama, history, satire, family fare and, of course, a sexy love story. Supporting the diverse offerings of black directors, producers and actors sends a signal to the movie industry that we want to see more of ourselves on the big screen. So this weekend — or during the holidays and beyond — head over to your local multiplex, grab a bucket of popcorn, and check out a flick or two:
Top Five. The early reviews are in, and the buzz is that Chris Rock’s new film, opening Dec. 12, 2014, may be his best yet. Rock, who wrote and directed the movie, plays a comedian and movie star looking to change his life. The hilarious ensemble cast includes Sherri Shepherd, Tracy Morgan, Jay Pharoah, Leslie Jones and Michael Che.
- Beyond the Lights. According to Nijla Mu’min, a critic for Shadow and Act, the marketing push for this critically acclaimed love story — a disappointment at the box-office during its mid-November opening — was misdirected. It placed too much emphasis on the film’s hip-hop subplot and not enough on writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s nuanced characterizations or the chemistry between lead actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker. The film, says Mu’min, is much more engaging than its advertisements suggest. In fact, earlier this month, Prince-Bythewood wrote an open letter encouraging moviegoers to support her film:
“There is a perception within our community and the world that black people don’t love each other. That we don’t fight for each other. That perception is so dangerous,” she wrote in part. “We need positive images to counter the negative portrayals we see every day. And positive doesn’t mean perfect. Perfect is boring. I want real. …”
- Annie. This remake of what is arguably one of the most beloved musicals of all time (opening in theaters Dec. 19, 2014) stars Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks and Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie. The adorable and talented Wallis just received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in this must-see family movie.
Selma. Director Ava DuVernay’s film about the 1965 marches for civil rights in Selma, Ala., is up for four Golden Globe awards. The film (opening in limited release on Christmas Day) stars actors David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo.
- Dear White People. Although this satirical film by first-time director Justin Simien has received mixed reviews, its take on race — through the eyes of black students at a fictional Ivy League college — is completely original. Simien’s deft handling of the movie’s characters — which include black, gay and bi-racial students struggling with racism — make it worth the price of the ticket and your time.