Best Black Movies of 2017

Here is my list of the best Black Films of 2017

10. Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Part character study, part legal thriller and part morality tale about means manifesting their own ends, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” winds up being just as eccentric and unpredictable as its doggedly honorable, and far from perfect, leading man

Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a dramatic thriller set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system. Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is upended when a turbulent series of events challenge the activism that has defined his career. Colin Farrell costars as the ambitious, monied lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm.

9. The Incredible Jessica James

In some cases you might think, ‘I’ve seen this all before.’ Yes. You have. But not with a leading lady like Jessica Williams. She’s something else entirely.

An aspiring NYC playwright (Jessica Williams) gets over a painful breakup by bonding with a man who was also recently dumped (Chris O’Dowd). LaKeith Stanfield and Noël Wells co-star. Written and directed by James C. Strouse.

8. Crown Heights

The two men’s relationship, and others in the film, might have been explored in greater depth, but Ruskin rightly keeps his focus on the judicial system as it fails Warner again and again.

In the spring of 1980, a teenager is gunned down in the streets of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The police pressure a child witness to identify a suspect. As a result, Colin Warner, an 18-year-old kid from nearby Crown Heights, is wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Colin’s childhood friend Carl ‘KC’ King devotes his life to fighting for Colin’s freedom. He works on appeals, takes loans for lawyer fees and becomes a legal courier to learn the court system. This incredible true story is adapted from the acclaimed This American Life segment by writer/director Matt Ruskin, with Lakeith Stanfield playing Colin Warner and Nnamdi Asomugha as Carl King.

 7. Marshall

Boseman has hhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfvzEXhhWNkeadlined biopics before as James Brown and Jackie Robinson, and here, he imbues the young Marshall with a quiet confidence and a dogged devotion to truth and justice.

Starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell. Director Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall, is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). Muzzled by a segregationist court, Marshall partners with a courageous young Jewish lawyer, Samuel Friedman (Josh Gad). Together they mount the defense in an environment of racism and Anti-Semitism. The high profile case and the partnership with Friedman served as a template for Marshall’s creation of the NAACP legal defense fund.

6. The Transfiguration 

Bold and brutal in shocking spurts, the indie horror drama from writer-director O’Shea is a startling debut that leaves a fresh mark on the genre while celebrating its forbears.

 The Transfiguration follows troubled teen Milo who hides behind his fascination with vampire lore. When he meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to challenge Milo’s dark obsession, blurring his fantasy into reality. A chilling portrait of violence, The Transfiguration is an atmospheric thriller set against the grit of New York City.

5.  Girls Trip

There is no raunchier, more raucous, filthy and truly crass movie out this summer than Girls Trip – and I loved every minute of it.

When four lifelong friends-Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish-travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

4. Mudbound

Elevating Netflix’s theatrical game, Mudbound is a powerful and absorbing film, one that does a splendid job of preserving its literary voice while painting a densely layered portrait of two families in World War II-era Mississippi.

Set in the rural American South during World War II, Dee Rees’ Mudbound is an epic story of two families pitted against one another by a ruthless social hierarchy, yet bound together by the shared farmland of the Mississippi Delta. Mudbound follows the McAllan family, newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis and unprepared for the harsh demands of farming. Despite the grandiose dreams of Henry, his wife Laura struggles to keep the faith in her husband’s losing venture. Meanwhile, Hap and Florence Jackson – sharecroppers who have worked the land for generations – struggle bravely to build a small dream of their own despite the rigidly enforced social barriers they face. The war upends both families’ plans as their returning loved ones, Jamie McAllan and Ronsel Jackson, forge a fast but uneasy friendship that challenges the brutal realities of the Jim Crow South in which they live.

3. I am not your  Negro

 “I Am Not Your Negro” is important. And urgent. And almost certainly unlikely to be seen by the people who would benefit from it most.
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends-Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

2. Quest

There are stretches of Quest that are tough to watch,
and others you might never want to end.
Filmed with vérité intimacy for almost a decade, QUEST is the moving portrait of an American family living in North Philadelphia. Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency, parents Christopher “Quest” Rainey, and his wife, Christine’a “Ma Quest” Rainey raise a family while navigating the poverty and strife that grips their neighborhood. They nurture a community of artists in their basement home music studio, but even this creative sanctuary can’t always keep them safe. Epic in scope, QUEST is a vivid illumination of race and class in America, and a testament to love, commitment, healing and hope.

1. Get Out

Jordan Peele’s debut will stand among the cream of the crop as far as 2017 horror films go. It’s wildly ambitious, poignant, terrifying, full of laughs, a refreshing take on the genre with subversive tendencies, racially charged, and damn entertaining.
It’s scary and awkwardly funny and endlessly profound both as an of-the-moment parable and a portrait of the everlasting horror that is institutional racism. And yeah, it snagged a $33 million opening and then legged it to $175m as the movie took the nation by storm to become one of the most successful R-rated horror movies of all time. Call it a comedy, call it a drama, call it a social thriller or call it a foreign language animated short. I’ll just be lazy and call Get Out the best movie of 2017 and a movie that damn well should be drowning in Oscar nominations in a month’s time. It’s not only the year’s best movie, but its success gave me hope that movies might matter again link

 

Did I leave out your favorite? let me  know

A. J . Harper  @harperworx writes about race and pop culture. In Concert, the latest novel in his Tales of Urban Horror Series will be released May 2018

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