Here Are the 2020 Nominations Of The Black Reel Awards!


The Black Reel Awards announced their nominees for the best of 2020 today.  The winners will be announced on April 11th.  The nominees can be found below:

OUTSTANDING MOTION PICTURE
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SOUL

OUTSTANDING ACTOR
KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
DELROY LINDO – DA 5 BLOODS
ROB MORGAN – BULL
LAKEITH STANFIELD – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS
NICOLE BEHARIE – MISS JUNETEENTH
VIOLA DAVIS – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ANDRA DAY – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
TESSA THOMPSON – SYLVIE’S LOVE
ZENDAYA – MALCOLM & MARIE

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
REGINA KING – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SHAKA KING – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
SPIKE LEE – DA 5 BLOODS
CHANNING GODFREY PEOPLES – MISS JUNETEENTH

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR
CHADWICK BOSEMAN – DA 5 BLOODS
COLMAN DOMINGO – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ALDIS HODGE – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
DANIEL KALUUYA – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
LESLIE ODOM JR. – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS
ALEXIS CHIKAEZE – MISS JUNETEENTH
DOMINIQUE FISHBACK – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
KIKI LAYNE – THE OLD GUARD
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS – THE HIGH NOTE
GABOUREY SIDIBE – ANTEBELLUM

OUTSTANDING SCREENPLAY
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – RADHA BLANK
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH – WILL BERSON & SHAKA KING
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – KEMP POWERS
SOUL – PETE DOCTER, MIKE JONES & KEMP POWERS

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE
MLK/FBI
TIME
THE WAY I SEE IT

OUTSTANDING FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
HIS HOUSE
NIGHT OF THE KINGS
THE LIFE AHEAD

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
MISS JUNETEENTH
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

OUTSTANDING VOICE PERFORMANCE
ANGELA BASSETT – SOUL
JAMIE FOXX – SOUL
MAYA RUDOLPH – THE WILLOUGHBYS
OCTAVIA SPENCER – ONWARD
PHYLICIA RASHAD – SOUL

OUTSTANDING SCORE
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – GUY C. ROUTTE
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY – JOHN DEBNEY
THE PHOTOGRAPH – ROBERT GLASPER
SOUL – TRENT REZNOR, ATTICUS ROSS & JON BATISTE
SYLVIE’S LOVE – FABRICE LECOMTE

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL SONG
FIGHT FOR YOU – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MAKE IT WORK – JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
POVERTY PORN – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
SPEAK NOW – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TIGRESS & TWEED – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT FEATURE
AMERICAN SKIN
FAREWELL AMOR
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
MISS JUNETEENTH
SYLVIE’S LOVE

OUTSTANDING SHORT FILM
BROTHER
CANVAS
THE CYPHER
GRAB MY HAND: A LETTER TO MY DAD
THE PANDEMIC CHRONICLES

OUTSTANDING INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARY
MR. SOUL!
THE SIT-IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW
WITH DRAWN ARMS

OUTSTANDING EMERGING DIRECTOR
EUGENE ASHE – SYLVIE’S LOVE
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
REGINA KING – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SHAKA KING – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
CHANNING GODFREY PEOPLES – MISS JUNETEENTH

OUTSTANDING BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, MALE
YAHYA ABDUL-MANTEEN II – THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
KINGSLEY BEN-ADIR – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
DUSAN BROWN – MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ELI GOREE – ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
NTARE MWINE – FAREWELL AMOR

OUTSTANDING BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE, FEMALE
RADHA BLANK – THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
ALEXIS CHIKAEZE – MISS JUNETEENTH
ANDRA DAY – THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
DOMINIQUE FISHBACK – JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
ZENDAYA – MALCOLM & MARIE

OUTSTANDING FIRST SCREENPLAY
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION – RADHA BLANK
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM – RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON
MISS JUNETEENTH – CHANNING PEOPLES GODFREY
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI – KEMP POWERS
SYLVIE’S LOVE – EUGENE ASHE

OUTSTANDING CINEMATOGRAPHY
DA 5 BLOODS
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MALCOLM & MARIE
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TENET

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
SYLVIE’S LOVE
THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION DESIGN
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
TENET

Film Review: Malcolm & Marie (dir by Sam Levinson)


Eh, Malcolm & Marie.  

John David Washington is Malcolm, a director who has been called the next Spike Lee though he would rather be known as the next William Wyler.

Zendaya is Marie, an actress and former drug addict who is Malcolm’s girlfriend and the inspiration for his latest film.

Malcom & Marie is the first Hollywood production to be filmed during the COVID-19 lockdowns.  It was shot largely in secret and the announcement that it even existed took many people by surprise.  This is pandemic filmmaking: a small cast working with a small crew in one location and it’s all stagey as Hell.

Indeed, Malcolm & Marie feels like an interminable play and one can easily imagine future acting students performing the film’s monologues on dingy stages in low-lit classrooms.  That it’s a talky film is, I guess, unavoidable.  When you’ve only got two characters and no one’s trying to rob a bank or kill the Avengers, there’s not really much to do other than to talk.  To be honest, this is the type of film that some of us have spent the past few years repeatedly asking for: it attempts to deal with big issues, it features two characters with their own separate ways of looking at the world, and it debates all the issues of art and commerce. There’s no explosions.  There’s no CGI.  There’s not post-credits scene designed to get us to spend money to see a sequel.  When we asked for a film like this, did we realize that the end result would be so monotonous and boring?  The obvious answer is that we didn’t but a part of me wonders if there’s not a certain group of critics who look at a film like Malcolm & Marie and think to themselves, “It’s so dull that it has to be good!  It’s either that or else we admit that we just wasted two hours of our life in the middle of a pandemic.”

(Seriously, everyone — life is short and you only get so many hours.  You don’t get those hours back, either.  Two hours may not seem like a lot but when you’ve only got 168 hours to live, those wasted hours start to add up.)

The film open with Malcolm and Marie returning from the premiere of his latest film.  Malcolm is excited because the premiere went well.  Marie is upset because Malcolm failed to thank her when he gave his post-film speech.  (Of course, there’s more to her anger than that.)  Malcolm and Marie bicker and then they laugh and then they go back to arguing again.  They start to make love several times, just to stop as one of them inevitably brings up what happened at the premiere.  Malcolm spends a lot of time complaining about the critics and how they insist on trying to categorize him as being solely a black filmmaker or a political filmmaker or a male filmmaker when he just wants to be known as a great filmmaker.  Malcolm compares himself to William Wyler and George Cukor.  Marie continually calls him out for being so full of himself, perhaps because she knows that neither Wyler nor Cukor would have allowed Malcolm to indulge in so many endless rants.  One especially gets the feeling that William Wyler, who directed The Best of Years Of Our Lives and who risked his life filming World War II, would have told Malcolm to get a grip.

Watching the film, one gets the feeling that the entire production is basically just a two-hour therapy session for director Sam Levinson.  When Malcolm vents about the critics, Sam Levinson is venting about the critics.  When Marie calls out Malcolm and talks about how selfish he is, it comes across as Levinson saying, “See, I’m actually a lot more self-aware than you realize!”  And when Marie stays with Malcolm despite the fact that he’s a pompous blowhard, it comes across as Levinson letting us know that he’s decided that he’s worth the trouble.

And really, that’s fine.  Insecurity can be a painful thing and it’s something that everyone has to deal with.  Far too often, people assume that just because you’re attractive or you’ve got a lot of money or you’ve found success in your field, that means you magically no longer have to deal with any self-doubt.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The more attractive you are and the more successful you are and the more honest you are about both your strengths and your weaknesses, the more time you spend wondering if people like you or if they just like being associated with you.  To paraphrase a frequently heard saying, with great talent comes great insecurity.  So, I certainly don’t blame the film’s director for spending the pandemic putting together a two-hour therapy session.  But that still doesn’t make the film particularly interesting to watch.

Even though Sam Levinson’s keeps the camera moving, Malcolm & Marie ultimately feels more theatrical than cinematic.  For all the yelling and the anger and the failed attempts at sex, it’s just a bit dull.  Far too many scenes are both overwritten and, in Washington’s case, overacted.  John David Washington never convinces us that Malcolm is worth all of the trouble.  When he’s supposed to be compelling, he just comes across as being a blowhard.  Zendaya, on the other hand, proves herself to be a major talent by giving a compelling performance even in this mess of a film.  Even when her dialogue is awkward, Zendaya manages to find some sort of emotional truth in her character.  She’s relatable and, as opposed to Washington, she makes Marie’s complaints into something universal.  We can understand her frustration and her anger because, in our own individual ways, we’ve all been there.  We all know what it’s like to be underappreciated.  We all know what it’s like to wonder where we fit in.  Of course, it also helps that both Zendaya and the viewer spend the majority of the movie annoyed with Malcolm.

Malcolm & Marie is essentially a two-hour argument and watching it is about as much fun as …. well, listening to two people argue for two hours.  Zendaya proves her talent but otherwise, this is one private discussion that need not be heard by the public.