Director: Ryan Coogler
Synopsis: The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.
Additional notes: Hard to think of a better sports movie. Would be great to watch with a huge, amped crowd as soon as COVID is over. The director of this movie would later go on to make Black Panther in 2018.
The Hate U Give
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Synopsis: Raised in a poverty-stricken slum, a 16-year-old girl named Starr now attends a suburban prep school. After she witnesses a police officer shoot her unarmed best friend, she’s torn between her two very different worlds as she tries to speak her truth.
Additional notes: Tackles a lot of issues that have come to the mainstream with the BLM movement. Might break your heart, but at least it will do it in an important and thoughtful way. The book its based off of goes into even more depth, and a prequel entitled Concrete Rose was published in 2021.
Director: Ava DuVernay
Synopsis: In the 1960s Martin Luther King attempts to lead a march in “Selma” (Alabama), the place where segregation in the South was at its worst, leading to a march that ended in violence.
Additional notes: Presents a more radical, authentic, non-sanitized version of Martin Luther King than you see in most other places. Fairly historically accurate, and undeniably powerful. Martin Luther King’s estate did not support the release of this movie, primarily because it gets into some of the darker aspects of his life that aren’t always mentioned. As a result, none of the text from his speeches could be used, although the new ones they wrote for the movie are compelling in their own right.
Director: Spike Lee
Synopsis: In the late 1970s Ron Stallworth, a black police officer, and Flip Zimmerman, his Jewish colleague, run an undercover operation to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.
Additional notes: Based off a true story. Although the film takes place in the 1970s, it contains many parallels to modern issues. Be warned that the film contains several racial slurs.
12 Years A Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Synopsis: In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty as well as unexpected kindnesses Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.
Additional notes: A deeply compassionate film that shines a light on how evil a million little apathies can be. Not an easy watch, but an incredibly valuable one.
Director: Jordan Peele
Synopsis: Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
Additional notes: Uses elements of horror and comedy to depict what a modern form of racism can be like. A very memorable movie.