No doubt about it, award season 2017 has been a powerful one for black actors, producers and other television and film professionals, especially considering the showdown after the Oscars last year, which earned itself the hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite.
From romance and comedy films to biopics and documentaries, there’s no debate that Black Hollywood has always given us black magic, but lately, that magic has been acknowledged by the rest of the world. As we gear up for BET’s American Black Film Festival Honors, which airs on Wednesday, February 22 at 8 p.m. EST and will be hosted by Regina Hall, it’s the perfect time take a look at some of the black Hollywood films that have wowed us.
Overlooked by the Oscars and set to be honored as one of the best films of the year at BET’s American Black Film Festival Honors, Creed is a drama film about former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa training and mentoring Adonis Johnson. Johnson is the son of his late friend and former rival, Apollo Creed. The movie stars Michael B. Jordan, Phylicia Rashad and Sylvester Stallone.
We knew this movie was going to be a good one when we learned that it featured both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Washington plays the role of a Black father in the 50s trying to raise his family while dealing with his own inner emotional turmoil about his life and place in the world.
Grossing more than $54 million in the box office, Fences won several awards including Davis’ Golden Globe and SAG win for Best Performance by An Actress in a Supporting Role. Washington also had a SAG win for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.
- Straight Out of Compton
Also being honored at BET’s American Black Film Festival Honors is Straight Outta Compton, which flawlessly takes viewers on a roller coaster ride that was the NWA story. Following its 1999 movie, this 2015 rendition was nominated this year for an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.
Directed by the legendary Ava DuVernay, 13th is a Netflix Original documentary that takes an in-depth look at the prison and criminal justice system in America. It tells us about the nation’s deep-rooted history of racial equality and features notable scholars, activists and politicians who analyze the criminalization of African Americans.
DuVernay is the first African American woman director to be nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars.
- I Am Not Your Negro
In theatres now starring Samuel L. Jackson, I Am Not Your Negro is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished novel, Remember This House, which tells the story of race in modern America. The film connects the dots of Black history in America starting from the Civil Rights Movement to the present #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The documentary was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
- Hidden Figures
Are we the only ones that felt ashamed not to know this story before the movie came out? The movie stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer and was adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. Hidden Figures tells the story of a team of Black women mathematicians in Hampton, Virginia, who were influential in the development of NASA’s U.S. space program in its early years.
Not only did the film gross more than $147 million, but Henson took home an NAACP Image Award for her character in the film and the cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. It was also nominated for two Golden Globe awards and Spencer received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Set in Miami streets of a tough neighborhood, Moonlight tells the story of a young Black man from childhood to adulthood, struggling to find his way in a world that seems to be against him. IMDb deemed the movie as “a timeless story of human self-discovery and connection.”
The film’s director, Barry Jenkins, made Oscar history by being the first African American filmmaker to be nominated for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
With all of the recent constant, controversial conversation surrounding violence in Chicago, Chi-Raq put an interesting twist to things. The movie is based on gang violence in Chicago but turns it into a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes.
Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea by far, but there’s no denying that this film changed the landscape of Black Hollywood and changed the perception of what Black filmmakers and actors are capable of.
The Black Hollywood elite will definitely be in attendance at this year’s BET American Black Film Festival Honors with Viola Davis, Lee Daniels, Common, Morris Chestnut and Omari Hardwick presenting awards. Washington and Issa Rae will receive the Hollywood Legacy Award and Rising Star Award respectively. Terrance Howard will receive the Excellence in Arts Award. To top it all off, Maxwell will be performing!
Sponsored by AT&T, Cadillac, Hennesy and Prudential Financial Inc., this event is sure to be a highlight of the Hollywood Awards season and Black History Month, as it stays true to its mission of celebrating Black culture by honoring individuals, movies and television shows that have a significant impact on American entertainment.
Will you be tuning in?
Written By: Chey Parker, Editor in Chief