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  • Matt Linton

The Weekend Watchlist

In honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend here are five recommendations or films that I'm interested in that celebrate African-American figures or filmmakers.

Selma (2014) - I've talked about Ava DuVernay's film focusing on the 1965 march on Selma, Alabama before, but this seems like an appropriate time to revisit it. Starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Johnson, the film was released to nearly unanimous critical acclaim. Along with Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song (which it won, for John Legend and Common's "Glory), and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor (Oyelowo), Director (DuVernay), Drama Motion Picture, and Original Song, the film also appeared on nearly 50 critics' Top 10 lists for the year.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, Apple iTunes, and others.

I Am Not Your Negro (2016) - This one is another Weekend Watchlist repeat. This fascinating documentary recreation of an unfinished memoir (Remember this House) by James Baldwin centers on the author's thoughts on the Civil Rights movement and its leaders. The film uses clips of Baldwin speaking, as well as Samuel L. Jackson reading Baldwin's own text. As with Selma, I Am Not Your Negro was released to critical acclaim, winning in the Best Documentary categories at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, and receiving an Academy Award Nomination, as well.

Streaming on Amazon Prime.

Moonlight (2016) - I've been meaning to put this one on my list for awhile now. Directed by Barry Jenkins, the film stars Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris (Skyfall), Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures), and Mahershala Ali (House of Cards) The winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Best Adapted Screenplay, along with nominations in the Best Director (Barry Jenkins), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing categories. Moonlight is based on the novel In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney and covers three periods in the life of Chiron, who struggles with his sexuality.

Streaming on Amazon Prime.

Fences (2016) - Another critically-acclaimed film from 2016 is this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play from director-star Denzel Washington (Ricochet). Co-starring How to Get Away with Murder's Viola Davis (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance), this family drama follows a working-class black family in a racially-divided 1950s Pittsburgh. This is the third film Washington has directed, following Antwone Fisher in 2002 and the underrated The Great Debaters in 2007.

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime.

Daughters of the Dust (1991) - Going back awhile, Julie Dash's period drama about three generations of women living on St. Simons Island, off the coast of South Carolina, where their ancestors were sold into slavery. This was Julie Dash's first feature-length film, and the first distributed in America to be directed by an African-American woman. Critically-acclaimed and highly-influential (along with being historically significant), the film received a restoration and re-release in 2016 as part of its 25th anniversary.

Streaming on Netflix.

New in Theaters This Week...

[Click the posters for more information]

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