Bodied (dir. Joseph Kahn)
To call Joseph Kahn’s Bodied another “Rap Battle” movie is akin to calling Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark just another “Adventure” film. Yes, to answer your question… Bodied is that good. Kahn’s film aims at everything from White Privilege, College Pretension, Woke Culture, Conservatism, Liberalism, Racism, Sexism, and Hip-Hop. Kahn and writer Alex Larsen manages to hit every single target in their cross-hairs, eviscerating American culture with the precision of a laser.
Blowin’ Up (dir. Stephanie Wang-Breal)
The first 43-minutes of Blowin’ Up throw you into the corridors, the staff, the cases, and the processes of New York City’s Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court. This cinéma-vérité style adroitly used by director Stephanie Wang-Breal is a bold move that allows you to be thrust into a sector of the New York Court system that opts on the side of compassion and understanding that most of their offenders have been exploited. Wang-Breal’s powerful documentary is the type of film that reveals humans treating others with compassion in the face of an American Legal and Legislative Systems that have no compassion or mercy. Blowin’ Up is a hopeful message in the direst of times.
Blindspotting (dir. Carlos Lopez Estrada)
Many, and rightfully so, have praised the script for Blindspotting written by stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal but often forget Carlos Lopez Estrada’s beautiful direction. Under his lens, there isn’t a street corner, house, or person that isn’t brimming with life. The film is a love letter to Oakland, Rap, Friendship, and betterment. At its core is Collin (Diggs) just trying to not fuck up his last 72 hours of parole. What happens over those 72 hours is so unexpectedly full of life, funny, witty, sharply observed and positive one will be elated that the film eschews almost all the pratfalls and clichés of the genre.
BlackKklansman (dir. Spike Lee)
Spike Lee’s newest joint Blackkklansman is a searing return to form. The based on a true story film of how the first Black Police Officer in Colorado Springs was able to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan is Lee, Cast, and Crew working at the top of their respective crafts. The result is a film as funny, angry, intelligent, relevant, and entertaining as you will this year. Blackkklansman is what we as an audience search for but rarely finds; an entertaining and enlightening piece of bravado cinema. Bravado Cinema told by a Master Filmmaker at the height of his powers and prowess as a storyteller.
Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler)
People have announced Ryan Coogler as the new Spielberg. I can see the comparison. Extremely talented unique purely cinematic voice. But why don’t we just let Ryan Coogler be the next Ryan Coogler. Black Panther is commercial big-budget tentpole filmmaking at its finest. The adventure film has more on its mind than just simple “end of the world” nonsense. Rather Black Panther is about identity, unity, and the cost of being a King or a Ruler of a Country. Two ideologies at its center; T’Challa’s one of introspection and peace, Killmonger’s one of radicalization and freedom by any means necessary. Coogler is able to take both points of view and make them both right and wrong. This is what the enduring power of Black Panther will be, its themes, its ideology, and its core is more complex than some more robust “Awards” films.