Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

"Blacktrospective" 2008


Below, syndicated critic and columnist Kam Williams gives us his break down of the best and the worst of black cinema in 2008.

I must say, I had a good laugh... a sad, hopeless kind of laugh, but a laugh nonetheless - as his lists indicates just how shitty the climate really is for what we call "black cinema."

Have we progressed much? Or are things relatively the same as they've been in recent years?

I remember after Halle Berry and Denzel Washington both won Oscars in 2001/2002 - voices were chanting the dawn of a new era for blacks in the industry... doors had supposedly been busted down, ushering in the kind of change many had been calling for, since the dawn of film and television media in this country.

What happened?

I suppose one could point to the fact that others followed in the footsteps of Washington and Berry - notably both Jamie Foxx and Forrest Whitaker winning "Best Actor" trophies; as well as those who have been nominated, but didn't win. One could also call attention to the fact that the biggest movie star in the world is a black man - in Will Smith - and the fact that, in this year alone, we've seen some strong performances from black actresses - Taraji P. Henson in Benjamin Button and Viola Davis in Doubt - both receiving plenty of critical and awards recognition.

And all those points are valid... however, are those truly notable, momentous mentions, indicating genuine progress, or just isolated incidences, enough for Hollywood to pat itself on the back for its attempts?

From the pair of lenses that I'm looking through, we still have a looooong way to go! When a top 10 list of the best films in one entire year includes 2 Tyler Perry movies, Beyonce as Etta James, and an Ice Cube family dramedy, or Boris Kodjoe is on the short list of best actors in a lead role, excuse me if I don't climb onto my apartment rooftop and scream with ecstasy!

Here's Kam's list:

Ten Best Black Feature Films (Studio)
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)

Like I said... *SIGH*



  1. SolShine7 said...

    Oy vey! Meet the Browns is listed as one of the best. I'm so sad that Angela Bassett's talent got wasted in that project. I'm a Tyler Perry fan but that film was saturated with bad acting and lackluster character development.

    On the other hand, I have to agree with I'm through With White Girls being the best black indie film of the year. And Gina Prince-Bythewood did a wonderful job with The Secret Life of Bees. I haven't seen The Souls of Black Girls yet but I've only heard good things about it.

    I would add Jenny Lumet to the list for her amazing script of Rachel Getting Married.

  2. The Obenson Report said...

    I had my problems with "I'm Through With White Girls," which I believe I illuminated in a previous post some months ago.

    I'd put "Medicine For Melancholy" and "A Good Day To Be Black And Sexy" above "White Girls." I'm surprised that neither is on his list. Maybe he didn't see them.

  3. Invisible Woman said...

    I said the same...where is MFM? Boo :-(

  4. Ortega said...

    l just died when l saw meet the browns and best next to each other. hahaha but l'm so happy for Taraji henson

  5. The Obenson Report said...

    I.W. - MFM will likely be on my list.

    Ortega - You're not alone on both counts :o)

  6. Geniusbastard said...

    For the record, the only film in the Top 10 I have seen is Spike's and while I didn't hate it, it was deeply disappointing.

    As for the other nine, I didn't miss them by accident. I avoided them like the plague.

    So this is Black Cinema.....?

  7. The Obenson Report said...

    GB - like you, I've only seen 1 film on the "Best Studio Films" list. I had every intention of seeing some of the others, but just couldn't muster up to courage...

    Is this "black cinema?" *Shrugging*

  8. Anonymous said...

    i disagree with several of the choices for best and worse. but since the most of my grievances appear to be unanimous among commenters I'll just say that I found Mos Def's performance in Be Kind Rewind undeserving of the label "worst."

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