Here Are The NAACP Imagine Award Nominations!


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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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