In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_aprsjzadl6cggwjedxexw7kfnbc

Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives
Primary_12yearsaslave-2013-1

Four Black Actors Vie for the Best Actor Oscar

Could this be the year when there are four movies that garner Best Actor Academy Award nominations for black actors? Oscar talk abounds for Idris Elba in "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," Chiwetel Ejiofor in "12 Years A Slave," Forest Whitaker in "Lee Daniels' The Butler," and Michael B. Jordan in "Fruitvale Station." I don’t usually make these prognostications, although Oscar speculation has become somewhat of a sport at the Toronto film festival. But because of the the very real possibility of this happening, and the very historical nature of it if it does, I couldn’t resist.

In "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," Elba plays the iconic South African leader over a period of decades. Though he has a long list of film credits, Elba is probably best-known for his role as Russell 'Stringer' Bell on "The Wire" and his more recent starring role on "Luther" (for which he won a 2012 Golden Globe). This movie gives him a big-screen project worthy of his dramatic talents. Yes, he can be delightful in something like "Pacific Rim," but seeing him in this role is a reminder that he has an incredible gift for serious drama.

Chiwetel Ejiofor has been earning the attention of critics since at least as early as "Dirty Pretty Things" in 2002" and in "12 Years a Slave," he gets the kind of role an actor can do wonders with. He plays Solomon Northup, a free black man in pre–Civil War New York who was abducted and sold into slavery. Michael Fassbender plays a sadistic slave owner, and Brad Pitt is an abolitionist who changes Norhtup's life after 12 years as a slave. It's based on a true story, and the film has left many people at Toronto so devastated that they can barely talk about the film after seeing it.

Forest Whitaker has been earning much praise for his portrayal of Cecil Gaines, a fictionalized version of Eugene Allen, the first African-American to serve as a White House butler. Much attention (some might say too much) has been paid to the casting of the various Presidents and First Ladies, but Whitaker is the real story here. Oprah Winfrey returns to acting after a long (too long) absence from the screen as Gaines's wife, and the loving chemistry of their marriage is clear. Whitaker has always been an actor who could convey depths of thought and feeling beneath the surface, and this role gives him the chance to put that gift to work again.

Writer-director Ryan Coogler penned the script of "Fruitvale Station" with Michael B. Jordan in mind for the lead role, and it shows. Coogler has given Jordan an incredible script, one that plays to Jordan's powers as an actor. Jordan plays Oscar Grant, an Oakland, CA, man shot and killed by transit police while handcuffed at a Bay Area Rapid Transit Station early on new year's day 2009. In telling us the story of the last day of Oscar's life, Jordan shows us a man whose daily life included the frustrations, humiliations and small indignities that so many young black man deal with on a daily basis. He doesn't make Grant a saint; he makes him a human being we can empathize with, and whose death we understand as a tragedy. The supporting work from Melonie Diaz as Grant's girlfriend and Octavia Spencer as his mother is wonderful, and gives a perfect frame for Jordan's stellar work.

Popular Blog Posts

Hashtag Activism and the #CancelColbert campaign

The recent #CancelColbert campaign on Twitter raises all kinds of issues about racism, but also about hashtag activism.

For the love of it: notes on the decline of Entertainment Weekly, the firing of Owen Gleiberman, and the ongoing end of an era

Owen Gleiberman's sacking as lead film critic of Entertainment Weekly — part of a ritual bloodletting of staffers at ...

Able-Bodied Actors and Disability Drag: Why Disabled Roles are Only for Disabled Performers

Scott Jordan Harris argues that disabled characters should not be played by able-bodied actors.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus