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December 2006

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COMMENTARY by Editor Wilson Morales

As we close out one year, and enter another, it's time to reflect on the year that brought out many exceptional performances and gave the black industry a serious boost in business from the all facets.

As it is nowadays, a number of black films seem to pop up and compete amongst each other during the earlier months of the year, but instead of canceling each other and failing to succeed at the box office, the opposite occurred. Who knew that the two biggest movies from January to March would “Big Momma’s House 2” and “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion”? Martin Lawrence has proven that he still has it to pack them in and Perry has continued to baffle the industry with his dominance on Oscar weekend. When “Crash” took the Oscar for Best Picture, many felt that the tide had turned and folks were looking at was a universal film that all can relate as oppose to the other popular nominees.

When you look back at the films that came out this year, it was a strong year for African American women as more stories and roles were open for them. From “Akeelah and the Bee” to “Something New” to “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion”, to “Phat Girlz” to “Dreamgirls”, the focus point of the story was about women and their need to survive in a man’s world as well as make their own lives happy. These films also introduced a bevy of newcomers that excelled with their performances. Keke Palmer, Rochelle Aytes, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Lauren London, Paula Patton, Director Sanaa Hamri, Bonnie Henna, Clare Hope-Ashitey, Shareeka Epps, Anika Noni Rose, and of course, Jennifer Hudson came to play and hit homers on their first at bat.

Every year we seem to get rapper and musicians make that transition to the film world and this year brought out the likes of T.I in “ATL”, Big Boi from Outkast in “Idlewild”, and Macy Gray in “Shadowboxer”. After directing music videos from many artists, director Sanaa Hamri added more to her list of accomplishments and did “Something New”.

On his 20th Anniversary in being in the business, Director Spike Lee had his most successful year ever. Many have seen his films over the years, but he finally had his biggest audience, in terms of box office figures, when he paired again with Denzel Washington for the hit film, Inside Man. Not only that, but he directed the Best Documentary NOT on the big screen with “When The Levees Broke”. No other film has captured so much footage and stories from the folks that survived that ordeal and Mr. Lee continues to tell stories about the plight of his community.

The year also brought true stories of individuals whose survival were an inspiration to many from Patrick Chamusso (played by Derek Luke in “Catch a Fire”, Sean Porter (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “Gridiron Gang”, and Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness”). Note: He may not have been an inspiration, but Forest Whitaker gave his best performance as an actor in playing former dictator Idi Amin.

And finally, we must pay respects to the talent that paved the way for many to be in this business and helped spread the word within the black community. Before Spike Lee, John Singleton, and many others, there was Gordon Parks. Not only did he do films like “Shaft” and its sequel, but he was a man of many talents and his works will surely be missed. James Brown, who recently passed away contributed many songs to soundtracks amongst his many attributes, and his legendary style of always letting you know his voice can heard will also be missed.


Please send any comments to Wilson@blackfilm.com


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