A Great Year For Black Films
A Great Year For Black Film
The 2010s were monumental for the progress of Black representation in movies. The efforts of countless Black actors and filmmakers, as well as trends like 2015’s “#oscarssoWhite” made Hollywood consider that maybe it wasn’t as inclusive as it once thought.
The hashtag, which was also trending during this year’s ceremony, originally called out the Oscars for exclusively nominating White actors in key categories for two years in a row, snubbing films like Creed and Straight Outta Compton.
As a result, we have seen much closer attention paid to the diversity of Hollywood’s film sets. Films like Fences, Moonlight and Black Panther have worked to set the standard for a much more progressive industry that’s only getting more inclusive.
This year continues that course with many more films by and about Black people. Here are some of 2020’s most anticipated.
The Photograph, a romance starring Lakeith Stanfield and Issa Rae, tells the story of a journalist and a photographer’s daughter exploring the meaning of love through letters written by her late mother.
While Stanfield or Rae’s involvement in any movie is enough reason to reserve box seats and buy a whole new outfit, note that the film is a romance starring two Black leads that headlined Valentine’s Day (alongside Sonic the Hedgehog, for whatever reason).
Iconic films like Love Jones, Poetic Justice and If Beale Street Could Talk have played instrumental roles in promoting positive Black romance to this point, and now Hollywood has put one on center stage during one of America’s most adored holidays. We stan severely.
Lakeith and Stanfield give us one of the sexiest performances since Love and Basketball and a powerful message that would make even the most jaded romantics believe in true love again.
The film is directed by a Black woman and produced by the Universal Studios. Hopefully it’s success will help set a standard for the promotion of future Black film premieres and we can look forward to even more of our favorite holidays more chocolate than we’re used to.
Jordan Peele. Enough said.
Antebellum is a film that we know little about, but we can at least assume it has something to do with slavery, time-travel paradoxes and a little White girl being generally creepy in dimly-lit hallways, The Shining style. Also, it stars Janelle Monae.
Peele’s production company and his constant push for increased minority representation in film raises the bar on this movie to daunting heights.
After the success of Get Out, Us and his Twilight Zone series, Peele shows no intention of slowing down and giving our therapists a much-needed break, but don’t worry, Antebellum doesn’t release until this summer. You and your loved ones still have plenty of time to prepare.
Disclaimer: If you spot me in the theatre watching through the cracks of my fingers or hear me stress crying throughout the movie, mind your business.
Soul is the film I’m most excited about on this list. Little has been revealed about the movie’s plot, but I’m already “jazzed” for its release (you’ll get that in a second).
Soul is an animated flick about a Black jazz player who gets much more familiar with soul music when a tragic accident turns him into a literal spirit. It will be the first Pixar film to star a Black lead character, and probably the first to accurately depict type 4A hair.
After films like The Princess and the Frog, Into the Spiderverse and the short film Hair Love, people seem to have accepted that Black characters starring in animated films can be just as charming as their White counterparts. Soul builds on the colossal success and cultural impact of its predecessors, proving once and for all that Black-noses aren’t actually that hard to draw.
We’ve definitely come a long way from Dragon Ball Z’s “Mr. Popo,” but too many Black characters still get the goody-two-shoes sidekick or small-time, gangster rapper treatment. After the release of last year’s Canon Busters anime, and with Craig of the Creek going as strong as ever, we’re much closer to consistent animated characters that we can be proud of.
Hopefully, when (not “if”— I mean it’s Pixar) this film is a huge success, we can look forward to animated films starring Black Americans that are written and animated by Blacks, as they to help create more frequent and accurate non-White characters. Fingers crossed.
This last one isn’t actually a film, but I’m too excited not to mention it. Bear with me.
The Falcon and Winter Soldier is a Marvel TV series that will be streaming on Disney Plus this summer starring Anthony Mackie (*swoon*) and Sebastian Stan. At the conclusion of Marvel’s highly acclaimed Infinity Saga, Steve Rogers passed his vibranium shield to his closest, blackest friend Sam Wilson. Now, it’s time to see our boy in action as the Captain America.
The Captain America: Sam Wilson (2016) comic series showed us what can happen when a Black man suddenly becomes Captain America. While empowering, it wasn’t always pretty. It would be amazing to see a similar dialogue on racial awareness and injustice onscreen, in addition to Nazi Steve Rogers.
This show will be the first of Marvel’s new line of TV series, so we don’t know exactly what to expect, but considering Marvel’s track record, the bar is set pretty high.
And that’s not even close to everything we’re expecting in 2020: A Fall From Grace, Bad Boys For Life and new seasons of The Boondocks and How to Get Away with Murder also premiere.
We’ve certainly come a long way from token characters and black exploitation, but the road ahead is still long. Films like these that share diverse perspectives will keep being made in the new decade as long as there is a demand. If you want to see more like them, be sure to support their releases and the filmmakers responsible as they continue to change the industry one role at a time.