The Black Reel Awards Honor Judas and the Black Messiah


The 2020 winners of the Black Reel Awards have been announced, with Judas and the Black Messiah taking the prize for best film.

Here are all the nominees and winners:

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

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

Here Are The Nominees For the 2020 NAACP Image Awards!


The NAACP has announced their nominees for the 2020 Image Awards!

And here they are:

Outstanding Motion Picture
Bad Boys For Life
Da 5 Bloods
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
One Night In Miami…

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture
David E. Talbert – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
George C. Wolfe – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Gina Prince-Bythewood – The Old Guard
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Regina King – One Night In Miami…

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Anthony Mackie – The Banker
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Forest Whitaker – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Will Smith – Bad Boys For Life

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Issa Rae – The Photograph
Janelle Monáe – Antebellum
Madalen Mills – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Tracee Ellis Ross – The High Note
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Aldis Hodge – One Night In Miami…
Chadwick Boseman – Da 5 Bloods
Clarke Peters – Da 5 Bloods
Colman Domingo – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Glynn Turman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Anika Noni Rose – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Gabourey Sidibe – Antebellum
Nia Long – The Banker
Phylicia Rashad – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Taylour Paige – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture
David E. Talbert – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Kemp Powers – One Night In Miami…
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Pete Docter, Kemp Powers & Mike Jones – Soul
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
Emperor
Farewell Amor
Miss Juneteenth
The 24th
The Banker

Outstanding International Motion Picture
Ainu Mosir
His House
Night of the Kings
The Last Tree
The Life Ahead

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture
Dayo Okeniyi – Emperor
Dominique Fishback – Project Power
Jahi Di’Allo Winston – Charm City Kings
Jahzir Bruno – The Witches
Madalen Mills – Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture
Da 5 Bloods
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Soul
The Banker

Outstanding Animated Motion Picture
Onward
Over the Moon
Scoob!
Soul
Trolls World Tour

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Motion Picture
Ahmir-Khalib Thompson aka Questlove – Soul
Angela Bassett – Soul
Chris Rock – The Witches
Jamie Foxx – Soul
Phylicia Rashad – Soul

Outstanding Short Form (Live Action)
Baldwin Beauty
Black Boy Joy
Gets Good Light
Home
Mr. & Mrs. Ellis

Outstanding Short Form (Animated)
Canvas
Cops and Robbers
Loop
The Power of Hope
Windup

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture)
Loira Limbal – Through the Night
Melissa Haizlip – Mr. Soul!
Nadia Hallgren – Becoming
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Remi Weekes – His House

Before anyone makes any jokes about that Best Picture nomination for Bad Boys For Life — hey, that was a fun movie.  If the Academy ever had gone through with that plan to start awarding an Oscar for Best Popular Film, I assume that Bad Boys For Life probably would have been contender.  Anyway, the winners of the Image Awards will be announced on March 27th so you’ve all got a lot of times to consider these nominees.

So, get to considering!

The Films of 2020: A Fall From Grace (dir by Tyler Perry)


Let us take a few minutes to praise Tyler Perry.

Seriously, so much time and energy has been devoted to writing about the numerous flaws that can be found in the majority of Perry’s film that I do think we can spare a few minutes to acknowledge all of the goods things about Tyler Perry.

First off, though he undeniably has an ego, Tyler Perry appears to be a decent human being and he frequently puts his money to good use.  At a time when we’ve gotten used to hearing terrible things about some of the richest and most famous men around, Tyler Perry is unique in that we don’t ever seem to hear anything particularly negative about him as a person.

Secondly, Tyler Perry has proven himself to be a far better actor than I think anyone originally gave him credit for being.  Just check out his performance in Gone Girl, for instance.  He took a stock role, the flamboyant attorney, and played it with such wit and intelligence that he become one of the most interesting characters in the film.

Third, Tyler Perry’s films — regardless of what the critics may think of them — have provided roles for a lot of talented black actors and actresses who often don’t get the type of roles that they deserve from Hollywood.

Fourth, Tyler Perry proved that there was a market out there for all sorts of films made for and by black people.  Though many are still loathe to admit, Tyler Perry has played a huge role in changing the way the film industry views black audiences.

With all that in mind, it’s kind of tragic that, for all the good things that you can say about him, he’s still an absolutely terrible director.  There’s nothing wrong with having an ego (and, as my fellow site contributors can tell you, I’ve certainly got a healthy one myself) but I sometimes think that the same ego that has allowed Perry to become a success and do so much good has also prevented him from growing as a director.  How else do you explain that, after having directed over 20 films, Tyler Perry still often seems like a very enthusiastic film student who is just now making his first feature?  How else do you explain that he’s keeps making the same rookie mistakes — i.e., boom mics slipping into the shot, continuity errors, and melodramatic tone changes that often seem to come out of nowhere — even though he’s been doing this for 16 years?

This brings us to A Fall From Grace.

A Fall From Grace was Tyler Perrry’s 21st film as a director.  It was also the first film that he made for Netflix and he also apparently shot it in 5 days.  There aren’t many directors, outside of Roger Corman, who can claim to have shot an entire film in 5 days.  Most directors, of course, would know that you need more than 5 days to shoot a film, especially one that wants to explore a serious issue.  Corman may have spent two days on Little Shop of Horrors but that’s a movie about a talking plant.  A Fall From Grace takes on the criminal justice system.

Jasmine (Bresha Webb) is a public defender who doesn’t get emotionally involved with her clients and who almost always makes a plea deal.  Her husband (Matthew Law) is a cop who is haunted by a recent suicide.  Jasmine’s latest client is Grace Walters (Crystal Fox), who has been arrested for murdering her husband (Mehcad Brooks).  Grace wants to plead guilty but Jasmine suspects that there might be more to the case than anyone realizes.  Why Jasmine suddenly takes an interest in taking Grace’s case to trial is never really that clear but it does lead to a lot of melodrama and a lot of rather clumsy flashbacks.  Eventually, Jasmine just kind of stumbles onto the truth and has to fight to reveal what really happened.

The story is nearly impossible to follow and the film’s action often seems to drag.  Probably the best thing about the film is that Perry himself plays Jasmine’s sarcastic boss.  Perry has a truly impressive beard and he seems to be having fun with the character.  Crystal Fox gives an effective performance as Grace and Phylicia Rashad has some good moments as Crystal’s friend.  Even Mehcad Brooks is convincing, even if he does get stuck with the film’s worst lines.  But Bresha Webb and Matthew Law are boring as the main couple and the story gets bogged down with flashbacks.  It’s just not a very good film.

Still, the film was reportedly one of the most viewed movies on Netflix during the weekend of its release.  The critics may not have embraced the film but Perry has shown repeatedly that you don’t need the critics on your side to be a success.

 

Here Are The NAACP Imagine Award Nominations!


Beasts_of_No_Nation_poster

Awards season continues!  The 2015 NAACP Image Award nominations were announced earlier today and here they are!

Outstanding Motion Picture

“Beasts of No Nation” (Netflix)
• “Concussion” (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
“Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
• “Dope” (Open Road Films)
“Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

* Abraham Attah – “Beasts of No Nation” (Netflix)
* Chiwetel Ejiofor – “Secret in Their Eyes” (STX Entertainment)
* Michael B. Jordan – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
* Michael Ealy – “The Perfect Guy” (Screen Gems)
* Will Smith – “Concussion” (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

• Lauren ‘Keke’ Palmer – “Brotherly Love” (Flavor Unit)
• Sanaa Lathan – “The Perfect Guy” (Screen Gems)
• Teyonah Parris – “Chi-Raq” (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
• Viola Davis – “Lila and Eve” (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
• Zoe Saldana – “Infinitely Polar Bear” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

• Chiwetel Ejiofor – “The Martian” (20th Century Fox)
• Corey Hawkins – “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)
• Forest Whitaker – “Southpaw” (The Weinstein Company)
• Idris Elba – “Beasts of No Nation” (Netflix)
• O’Shea Jackson, Jr. – “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

* Angela Bassett – “Chi-Raq” (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
* Gugu Mbatha-Raw – “Concussion” (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
* Jennifer Hudson – “Chi-Raq” (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
* Phylicia Rashad – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
* Tessa Thompson – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

• “Beasts of No Nation” (Netflix)
• “Brotherly Love” (Flavor Unit)
• “Chi-Raq” (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
• “Infinitely Polar Bear” (Sony Pictures Classics)
• “Secret in Their Eyes” (STX Entertainment)

Outstanding Documentary – (Film)

* “Amy” (A24)
* “Dreamcatcher” (Rise Films, Green Acres Films & Vixen Films in association with Impact Partners and Artemis Rising Foundation)
* “In My Fathers House” (Break Thru Films)
* “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (PBS Distribution/Firelight Films)
* “What Happened, Miss Simone?” (A Radical Media Production in Association with Moxie Firecracker for Netflix)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Film)

* Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman – “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)
* Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois, Grant Thompson – “McFarland USA” (Walt Disney Pictures)
* Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley – “Inside Out” (Disney/Pixar)
* Rick Famuyiwa – “Dope” (Open Road Films)
* Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer Pictures)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture – (Film)

• Alfonso Gomez-Rejon – “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (Fox Searchlight Pictures / Rhode Island Ave)
• Charles Stone, III – “Lila and Eve” (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
• F. Gary Gray – “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal Pictures)
• Rick Famuyiwa – “Dope” (Open Road Films)
• Ryan Coogler – “Creed” (Warner Bros. Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

Film Review: Creed (2015, directed by Ryan Coogler)


CreedOn Wednesday, I saw the movie Creed and what can I say?  Creed is exactly the film that we were hoping it would be.  Not only does it continue the story of Rocky Balboa but it proves that Ryan Coogler is a major directing talent and that Michael B. Jordan is a film star in the making.  Ever since Creed was first screened for critics, we’ve been hearing that “Creed is the best Rocky since the first one.”  I would go even further to say that Creed is one of the best boxing films to be released since the first Rocky.  Though the story may be formulaic, Creed is a film that will take you by surprise.  No one — not even the biggest Rocky fans — was expecting it to be this good.

When the movie opens, Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of the legendary boxer Apollo Creed, is just another kid in foster care.  His mother has recently died and Apollo was killed in the ring before Adonis was even born.  Adonis is adopted by Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad).  Fifteen years later, Adonis is working in an office and has just gotten a big promotion but he spends his weekends boxing in cheap venues in Mexico.  Eventually, over Mary Anne’s objections, Adonis quits his job and moves to Philadelphia.  Adonis wants to box professionally and he wants his father’s greatest opponent and best friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), to train him.

But Rocky is no longer the man he used to be.  He stills owns his restaurant and he still goes out to the cemetery to visit the grave of his wife, Adrian.  Since the end of Rocky Balboa, Rocky’s best friend, Paulie, has died and his son has moved to Canada.  (Paulie still gets an affectionate shout out when Adonis comes across his old porn stash at Rocky’s house.)  Rocky is older, sadder, wiser, and more alone than he has ever been.  He is also still haunted by Apollo’s death in the ring.  At first, Rocky does not want to train Adonis but eventually, the younger man wins him over.  Under Rocky’s tutelage, Adonis wins his first professional fight.  When the news gets out that Adonis is Apollo’s son, he is given a chance to fight the reigning world champion, Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew).

Creed 2Watching Creed, it is obvious that Ryan Coogler knows his Rocky films.  Creed features call backs to every entry in the series, even the ones that have not received the positive reviews of the first Rocky and Creed.   Of course, the entire film is haunted by Apollo’s death at the hands of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.  The restaurant and Rocky’s visits to Adrian’s grave were first introduced in Rocky Balboa.  When Rocky shows Adonis a picture of him and his son, it is a still photo of Sylvester and Sage Stallone in Rocky V.  When Adonis first meets Rocky, he asks him who won the fight that ended Rocky III.   Adonis’s fight against Conlan is a call back to Rocky’s fights against Apollo in the first two Rocky films.  When Adonis thinks about his father, a clip of Carl Weathers flashes across the screen.  Finally, just as Rocky fell in love with Adrian, Adonis falls for a singer named Bianca (Tessa Thompson).

Even though Creed is steeped in the history of Rocky, it still manages to establish its own identity.  Creed is not just a film about boxing.  It is also about a son’s effort to escape the shadow of his famous father and establish his own identity.  Michael B. Jordan gives a performance that feels so real and so honest that it constantly takes us by surprise.

StalloneSpeaking of surprising performances, Sylvester Stallone has never been better.  This is not only his best performance in the role of Rocky Balboa but the best performance of his underrated career.  It is a performance that is totally devoid of ego and Stallone has never been this vulnerable on screen.  If Stallone is not, at the very least, nominated for an Oscar for his performance here, it will be an injustice.

Coogler does a good job of capturing the mean streets of Philadelphia and watching Adonis’s training montage is an inspiring experience.  (It would not be a Rocky film without an inspiring training montage.)  Coogler also does a good job filming the action inside the ring.  The second fight, which is shown in almost one entirely unbroken take, is especially exciting.

Creed is a stunningly effective film.  When I saw it, the audience broke out in applause at the film’s final shot.  Rocky Balboa’s story may be close to finished but Adonis Creed’s has just begun.  I can not wait to see where it goes.

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