Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★½

Sundance 2021 #10


A film for the ages and an instant classic. 

Daniel Kaluuya is just absolutely, positively, The.  Fucking. Guy. Stunner of a performance, holy hell. Truly forgot it was him after a while, he embodied the life and soul of Fred Hampton. Trophies for Daniel please!

Lakeith Stanfield also brings it with a frenetic, tight rope walk of a performance as the guy stuck between a rock and a hard place. The film excels at creating a layered and complicated account of the decisions William O’Neal had to make, which provides for a rich watch. Feel like this is a bit of a departure for Lakeith and he shows off some mad versatility. 

So many rousing set pieces and the film builds and builds to ultimately an effective, yet very difficult to stomach finale. I appreciated the title cards in the film’s closing moments as well, they were actually illuminating for once and built on the events at hand. 

Beautifully executed by Shaka King and his craft departments, with the production design, jazzy score, lighting, and groovy costumes all very much on point. For some reason, award shows think costuming accolades should only go to Elizabethan dramas starring Helen Mirren, but this movie should be at the forefront of this year’s dialogue as there were so many fantastic wardrobe designs and choices in every frame. 

I just see this movie being revisited and rewatched by a TON of people for years and years to come, myself included. It’ll be a movie that trends for a long time and I could see this thing sneaking in and taking Best Picture this year at the last second. 

Last thought: as someone who’s worked on WB projects for a few years now, very exciting to see one of the old school Hollywood studios back a progressive and diverse project of this nature. Is this the most progressive film made by an old school studio ever? Genuinely curious if one of the others has made something that could top this, I don’t think so. 

Judas and the Black Messiah: iconic.