Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★½

A really terrific film that I don’t have a whole lot about which to say. The film pretty much speaks for itself. I love the allusions to the life and betrayal of Jesus without it be terribly heavy handed. I mean, it is right there in the title—a perfect title by the way.

For such an important film, I’m going to write about something very unimportant—the Oscars. I love the Oscars even though they rarely love me back.

Please, please, please let DAniel Kaluuya win Best Supporting Actor. I wonder if the late release prevented his buzz from building during the critics awards, but maybe it will play in his favor as one of the last films to debut and remain fresh in the mind of voters (at least as fresh as anything can be this crazy year). I wouldn’t mind seeing Leslie Odom win for One Night in Miami. It is a bit more digestible performance for lack of a better word. It may garner wider voting appeal I guess. We’ll see.

It’s almost impossible not to compare this film to the inferior The Trial of the Chicago 7. There is obvious overlap. Is it true that Aaron Sorkin could be nominated for Best Director over Shaka King? I was floored by the work King did here. It felt like he is on his 10th film or so, not something so early in his career. Just very assured work.

So my main thought about these two films came down to what am I looking for in a movie. Do I want to be informed? Educated? Entertained? A combination of these things? I suppose I want different experiences from different films and at different times. The Trial of the Chicago 7 was much more entertaining. And I don’t mean that as a knock—I liked The Trial of the Chicago 7. But it never reached the heights of Judas and the Black Messiah as far as urgency and importance. And while the Oscars themselves are not really important, they can shine a light on important works of art that need to be seen, that challenge what we thought we knew, and allow filmmakers to keep producing films that matter. As strange of a year as the 2020-21 film year has been, it has produced has true masterworks. Cinema is far from dead.

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