Athlete A (Netflix)
Athlete A chronicles the incredible strength and resolve survivors of sexual assault utilized to topple corrupt systemic abuse within USA Gymnastics. The beacon of Americana hid a history of physical, mental, emotional and sexual misconduct for the sake of money, fame and gold. Through the tireless work of reporters in Indianapolis, the once silenced voices were amplified and heard. Their truths resulting in an epic move of justice, and a mandatory shift in the culture of women and sports.
The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Lifetime)
Lifetime’s superbly cast biopic on the gospel music family was a huge success for the network. Produced by Queen Latfiah, Mary J Blige, and Missy Elliott, the film chronicled the iconic sisters with voices rise to gospel royalty, with the tired and true guidance of their mother Mattie Moss Clark (Aunjanue Ellis). It was a night to highlight the truly groundbreaking talents of Twinky, Karen, Dorinda, Denise and Jacky.
Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Spike Lee brilliantly portrays the battle of double consciousness Black Americans live every day. This time: through the experiences of Black U.S. soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. A reunion to find buried treasure and honor a fallen comrade unearths untreated trauma, pitting brother against brother; and, ultimately man against country. The film examines patriotism from a Black lens, questioning the conundrum of fighting for foreign freedoms when the same cry for equality at home goes ignored. Everything in the film is pristine. Spike delivers signature calling cards but refreshed. The cast is amazing with Delroy Lindo’s “Paul” shining the Blackest. Believe the hype. This film is bigger and better than Blackkklansman and deserves all the accolades coming.
Stellar performances in an unflinching look at the highest plane of punishment issued by the U.S. judicial system. Alfre Woodard is stoically marvelous as a prison warden who oversees death row inmates’ final moments. We see the toll this profession has on her whole being as well as those connected. Woodard and Aldis Hodge both deserved space in 2019’s awards season. Not to mention Danielle Brooks in one scene. While Just Mercy challenged an unjust system, Clemency begs to question if capital punishment is ever humane.
The Last Dance (ESPN)
The 10-part documentary was the first taste of “sports” the world offered since the Super Bowl. The in-depth film retraced Michael Jordan’s career through his final championship run with the Chicago Bulls. Never-before-seen interviews and footage tracked Jordan’s arrival, first-three rings, abrupt departure, and eventual return. It also highlighted the contributions and perspectives of players, reproters and key components of the legendary run. Maybe the only sports we see this side of COVID.
Selah & the Spades (Amazon Prime)
This subversive look of teenage life at a private high school feels every bit of Cruel Intentions & Jawbreaker, but with fresh eyes. Selah (Lovie Simone) rules five factions of the student body with fierce domination. Her tight ship must work like a machine to master the illicit crimes hidden from the headmaster (surprise, Jesse Williams). But the control Selah seeks over her body, agency, and power comes at a cost. A lovely debut from director and writer @tayarishasaurusrex
Attack the Block
Two words. John. Boyega. I can see why JJ Abrams wanted him for Star Wars; and, why many felt Finn was underused throughout the series. Cornish’s comedic sci-fi horror examines the very real fear whiteness instills in people. That even during an alien invasion, folks’ biases and prejudices circumvent rational thought. The entire cast was stellar. And I had no idea Firestorm from Legends of Tomorrow was a Brit. I loved every minute.
Little Woods (Hulu)
A very authentic story of how desperate measures are enacted for people who live in perpetually desperate times. Starring Tessa Thompson and Lily James, we see the ills of poverty and how they affect women. Loved the ending and how these two characters were able to keep their integrity even in these less-than-desirable moments. Strong performances and explanation of trauma without displaying it on screen.
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