The Pursuit of Happyness
What it’s About: Life is a struggle for single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith). Evicted from their apartment, he and his young son (Jaden Smith) find themselves alone with no place to go. Even though Chris eventually lands a job as an intern at a prestigious brokerage firm, the position pays no money. The pair must live in shelters and endure many hardships, but Chris refuses to give in to despair as he struggles to create a better life for himself and his son.
Why I Like It: We get to see Will Smith with his son Jaden in an emotional drama. Their real life relationship translates seamlessly into their on-screen roles. I love that it’s a biographical film and gives us a positive representation of Black fatherhood.
Good For: Times of unemployment, rejection, learning new things, and when you feel like you have to make a way out of no way.
What it’s About: Two years before the Civil War, Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave, finds himself accompanying an unorthodox German bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) on a mission to capture the vicious Brittle brothers. Their mission successful, Schultz frees Django, and together they hunt the South’s most-wanted criminals. Their travels take them to the infamous plantation of shady Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), where Django’s long-lost wife (Kerry Washington) is still a slave.
Why I Like It: Tarantino doesn’t sugar coat anything. He allows us to see the brutality of the reality of slavery which adds to the emotional satisfaction for the films ending. The acting is superb as well as the writing which some kind of way is able to weave moments of comedy into an otherwise grim storyline. Even if not directly biographical, it’s powerful to see the imagery of attempted freedom from oppression and represents so many real life heroines who achieved it in their own way.
Good For: Underdogs, when you have been underestimated, dealing with oppression, fighting the system.
What it’s About: Three brilliant African-American women at NASA – Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) – serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
Why I Like It: There are fewer things harder than being a Black woman in America. This film explores the challenges of that intersection between sex and race. It’s a feel good film that tells the biographical story directly without unnecessary coloring. The acting is spot on and the movie brings awareness to 3 deserving women who have gone overlooked.
Good For: Women’s empowerment, STEM history, dealing with microaggressions at work, learning how to demand respect for your value.
Dolemite Is My Name
What it’s About: Performer Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) develops an outrageous character named Dolemite, who becomes an underground sensation and star of a kung-fu, anti-establisment film that could make or break Moore.
Why I Like It: It’s a comical, uplifting film that keeps you on your toes. It’s really good to see Eddie Murphy back on screen and playing a more complex role that pulls from his comedic and dramatic abilities. It has a Blackity Black cast.
Good For: Betting on and believing in yourself, entrepreneurship, taking risks, defining your path, trailblazing.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
What It’s About: A 13-year-old boy is thrown out of the school he loves when his family can no longer afford the fees. He sneaks into the library and learns how to build a windmill to save his village from a famine.
Why I Like It: This movie had me in my feels! It’s very easy to become emotionally attached to the characters who each have their own unique stories. It is shot very well and the acting feels very natural. It’s a biographical story that is specific and yet universal.
Good For: Innovation, resourcefulness, trailblazing, social responsibility.
Special Mention: Other favs that are based in Africa are Queen of Katwe and Hotel Rwanda.