Mid-Year Report: Top 10 Black Films of 2012
Mid-Year Report: Top 10 Black Films of 2012
by Wilson Morales
July 6, 2012
As the first half of the 2012 is complete, it’s time to do a recap on some of the black films or films featuring black talent that stood out among the many films that have been released so far.
Here are 10 films (in no particular) that deserve to be seen in theaters (if still playing) or on home video.
Although it made numerous festival runs and later shown on HBO in 2011, ‘Sing Your Song’ was finally released in theaters early in 2012 and if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth picking up on Netflix or home video.
Susanne Rostock’s Sing Your Song intimately surveys the life of entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte. From his rise to fame as a singer and his experiences touring a segregated country, to his crossover into Hollywood, Belafonte’s groundbreaking career personifies the American civil rights movement. Rostock reveals Belafonte to be a tenacious activist, who worked intimately with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., mobilized celebrities for social justice, participated in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and took action to counter gang violence, poor prison conditions, and youth incarceration.
One can never go wrong watching a Denzel Washington film, and teaming up with Ryan Reynolds on this fast paced action packed film had audiences cramming for more.
Tobin Frost ( Washington), one of the CIA’s most dangerous traitors, resurfaces in South Africa after eluding capture for almost a decade. During his interrogation, the safe house is attacked by brutal mercenaries forcing rookie agent, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) to take the infamous Frost on the run. As the masterful manipulator toys with his reluctant protégé, shaking the young operative’s morality and idealism, the unlikely allies must fight to stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them both dead. Packed with intense action and thrilling suspense, Safe House takes you on a deadly ride through a covert world where no one and no place is ever safe.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa, the film also includes Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Ruben Blades, Tracie Thoms, Nora Arnezeder, and Robert Patrick.
Another documentary that stood out so far in 2012 is Kevin Macdonald’s terrific documentary on the legendary Bob Marley. Although many can say that they’ve heard numerous stories, have all the CDs, but to see some actual recordings and have some family members speak on the record is something we hadn’t seen before.
MARLEY is the definitive picture about the life, music and legacy of icon Bob Marley. Drawing largely from behind the scenes historical footage and the never-before-seen personal accounts of those closest to him, the film chronicles the rise of Bob Marley as a musician, and charts the way in which he grew to become the highly influential spiritual and political figure he is today.
As the most profitable black film to come out since Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes To Jail, Will Packer’s Think Like A Man became a financial success, taking in over $90M at the box office along with two weekends as the #1 film in America.
The film, an adaptation of TV and radio personality Steve Harvey’s best-selling book about dating and relationships, provides a riotously funny look into relationships between men and women. The star-studded cast includes Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrance J, Romany Malco, Gary Owen, Gabrielle Union, Lala Vazquez, and Arielle Kebbel.
A Sundance favorite from 2011, Andrew Dosunmu was the second film under AFFRM (The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement) and featured the fine performances given by Sy Alassane and Sky Nicole Grey, and the
extraordinary work of cinematographer Bradford Young.
RESTLESS CITY tells the story of an Africa immigrant surviving on the fringes of New York City where music is his passion, life is a hustle, and falling in love is his greatest risk. Djibril is a young African immigrant who’s life can only go upward. He wants to be a pop star and one day return to Africa where his mother and father toil for a meager living. By day he sells merchandise on Canal Street for a small income, but he continuously seeks a way to succeed as a singer. When Djibril meets Trini, a prostitute under the control of Bekay, the local loan shark, his life assumes new purpose and momentum; however, whether Djibril and Trini can outrun Bekay’s nefarious influence is another story.
It goes without saying that ‘Beasts’ has been the most talked about film since its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience award. The film also won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival
Directed by Benh Zeitlin, the film features excellent perfomances by Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis, who was six years at the time of filming.
In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.
Omar Sy gives a riveting and award worthy performance in ‘The Intouchables,’ which was directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. Sy won the César award for Best Actor over ‘The Artist’s’ Jean Dujardin. The film will be remade by The Weinstein Company.
“The Intouchables” tells the true story of a wealthy, physically disabled risk taker, the picture of established French nobility, who lost his wife in an accident and whose world is turned upside down when he hires a young, good-humored, black Muslim ex-con as his caretaker. Their bond proves the power and omniscience that love and friendship can hold over all social and economic differences.
Released in limited theaters this past April, this comedy film featured a lot of talent most of familiar with (Keith Robinson, Meagan Good, Stacey Dash, Tatyana Ali, Essence Atkins, Vanessa Simmons, Erica Hubbard, Hosea Sanchez, Wesley Jonathan, Jason Weaver, Datari Turner, Reagan Gomez, Persia White, Stacy Keibler, Rodney Jerkins, Dennis White, Antwon Tanner, Meagan Markle, Christian Keyes, Laila Odom and NFL Superstar Terrell “T.O.” Owens making his big screen debut).
Directed by Corey Grant, the film was produced by Datari Turner, Gordon Bijelonic and Greg Carter
After taking nearly two years to complete and finally released in theaters, the Tuskegee Airmen film was received with mixed reactions, which translated to low box office numbers. ‘Red Tails’ is still worth a look for the subject matter.
Directed by Anthony Hemingway, the film is produced by Star Wars’ George Lucas, who spent over $50 million dollars of his own pocket to make this big budgeted, CGI war film featuring a bevy of black talent (Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Cliff Smith, Kevin Phillips, Rick Otto, Lee Tergesen, Andre Royo, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Marcus T. Paulk, Leslie Odom Jr., Michael B. Jordan, Jazmine Sullivan, Edwina Finley, Daniela Ruah, and Gerald McRaney).
A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.
Undefeated is an Oscar-winning 2011 documentary directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin. The film documents the struggles of a high school football team, the Manassas Tigers of Memphis, as they attempt a winning season after years of losses. The team is turned around by coach Bill Courtney, who helps form a group of young men into an academic and athletic team.