Monday, December 22, 2008

Blacktrospective 2008

by Kam Williams

Headline: Kam’s Annual Assessment of the Best (and Worst) in Black Cinema

2008 will be remembered as a breakout year for African-American females both in front of and behind the camera, with my #1 picks for Best Feature (The Secret Life of Bees), Best Independent (I’m Through with White Girls) and Best Documentary (The Souls of Black Girls) all being directed by sisters. It also marked the emergence of a number of lesser-known actresses like Lia Johnson (I’m Through with White Girls) and Rutina Wesley (How She Move).
While veteran character thespians Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Life of Benjamin Button) and Viola Davis (Doubt) have generated Oscar buzz for their stellar support work, Alicia Keys (The Secret Life of Bees) proved that she has a big future in Hollywood, should she ever opt to shift her focus from music to the big screen. Most of the best black male performances were delivered by the usual suspects, brothers like Jeffrey Wright and Rob Brown, although Evan Ross and Omar Benson Miller showed themselves as rising stars to be reckoned with.
Of course, I have to include a little coal in the stocking for those folks associated with offensive, lowest-common denominator comedies such as First Sunday and What Up? which portrayed black people in the worst possible light. Let’s just hope that 2009 will signal the end of the recent revival of this genre of disturbing, modern minstrel shows.

Ten Best Black Feature Films

1. The Secret Life of Bees
2. Cadillac Records
3. The Family That Preys
4. The Express
5. Miracle at St. Anna
6. Meet the Browns
7. Never Back Down
8. Seven Pounds
9. Soul Men
10. The Longshots

Best Independent Black Films

1. I’m Through with White Girls
2. How She Move
3. Ballast
4. All about Us
5. Blackout

Best Black Documentaries

1. The Souls of Black Girls
2. A Man Named Pearl
3. America the Beautiful
4. Meeting David Wilson
5. All of Us
6. Trouble the Water
7. One Bad Cat
8. The Dhamma Brothers
9. Very Young Girls
10. Disappearing Voices

Best African Films

1. Pray the Devil Back to Hell (Liberia)
2. Rape in the Congo (Congo)
3. We Are Together (South Africa)
4. On the Rumba River (Congo)
5. Youssou N’Dour: Return to Goree (Senegal)

Best Actor (Lead Role)

1. Rob Brown (The Express)
2. Evan Ross (Gardens of the Night)
3. Anthony Montgomery (I’m Through with White Girls)
4. Djimon Hounsou (Never Back Down)
5. Derek Luke (Miracle at St. Anna)
6. Bernie Mac (Soul Men)
7. Boris Kodjoe (All about Us)
8. Don Cheadle (Traitor)
9. Forest Whitaker (Ripple Effect)
10. Will Smith (Seven Pounds)

Best Actor (Supporting Role)

1. Jeffrey Wright (Cadillac Records, W., Quantum of Solace & Blackout)
2. Omar Benson Miller (Miracle at St. Anna & The Express)
3. Columbus Short (Cadillac Records)
4. Michael Ealy (Miracle at St. Anna)
5. Rick Fox (Meet the Browns)
6. Tyler Perry (The Family That Preys)
7. Eamonn Walker (Cadillac Records)
8. Laz Alonso (Miracle at St. Anna)
9. Lamann Rucker (I’m Through with White Girls & Meet the Browns)
10. JimMyron Ross (Ballast)

Best Actress (Lead Role)

1. Lia Johnson (I’m Through with White Girls)
2. Rutina Wesley (How She Move)
3. Sanaa Lathan (The Family That Preys)
4. Thandie Newton (Run, Fatboy, Run)
5. Angela Bassett (Meet the Browns)
6. Danai Jekesai Gurira (The Visitor)
7. Keke Palmer (The Longshots)
8. Queen Latifah (The Secret Life of Bees)
9. Alfre Woodard (The Family That Preys)
10. Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds)

Best Actress (Supporting Role)

1. Alicia Keys (The Secret Life of Bees)
2. Taraji Henson (The Curious Life of Benjamin Button)
3. Viola Davis (Doubt & Nights in Rodanthe)
4. Beyonce’ (Cadillac Records)
5. Sharon Leal (Soul Men)
6. Tre’ Armstrong (How She Move)
7. Kellee Stewart (I’m Through with White Girls)
8. Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
9. Tasha Smith (The Longshots)
10. Gabrielle Union (Cadillac Records)

Best Director (Studio)
1. Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees)
2. Tyler Perry (The Family That Preys & Meet the Browns)
3. Spike Lee (Miracle at St. Anna)
4. Malcolm Lee (Soul Men)
5. George C. Wolfe (Nights in Rodanthe)

Best Director (Independent or Documentary)

1. Jennifer Sharp (I’m Through with White Girls)
2. Daphne Valerius (The Souls of Black Girls)
3. Darryl Roberts (America the Beautiful)
4. David A. Wilson (Meeting David Wilson)
5. Christine Swanson (All about Us)

Worst Movie

1. First Sunday
2. What Up?
3. Nora’s Hair Salon 2
4. Cover
5. Three Can Play That Game

Worst Actor

1. Tracy Morgan (First Sunday)
2. Katt Williams (First Sunday)
3. Mos Def (Be Kind, Rewind)
4. Kadeem Hardison (What Up?)
5. Raz Adoti (Cover)

Worst Actress

1. Tatyana Ali (Nora’s Hair Salon 2)
2. Stacey Dash (Nora’s Hair Salon 2)
3. Malinda Williams (First Sunday)
4. Aunjanue Ellis (Cover)
5. Vivica A. Fox (Three Can Play That Game)

Worst Director

1. David E. Talbert (First Sunday)
2. Dale Stelly (What Up?)
3. Jill Maxcy (Nora’s Hair Salon 2)
4. Bill Duke (Cover)
5. Mody Mod (Three Can Play That Game)

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