Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★½

Staggering & powerful, "Judas and the Black Messiah" shakes up this year's awards season in such a major way as arguably the most timely film released during this season. Emotionally charged, harrowing, and so relevant, Shaka King's impressive biopic is one that feels quite distinctive from others of its kind. From King's impeccable craft as well as his undeniable passion to tell this story, to the jaw dropping performances, this is surely a film that will be sticking with me for a very long time.

To literally nobody's surprise, the entire cast is on a whole another level. LaKeith Stanfield just continues to amaze, as he brings so much humanity & depth to a performance that just might be the best of his career thus far. Jesse Plemons is in typically terrific form here, while Dominique Fishback also gives I think a star making turn in a role that really gives the film much of its heart. But make no mistake about it, Daniel Kaluuya absolutely loses himself in the role of Fred Hampton and gives one of the most captivating performances I've seen in years. I'm not exaggerating when I say Kaluuya not only should be an obvious lock for an Oscar nomination, but for me this supporting actor race is no longer anywhere near close, his unforgettable performance puts that race to an end as far as I'm concerned. The screenplay co-written by King & Will Berson deserves major props here as well, certainly very politically timely in its themes, but also highlights the humanity & inner turmoil of its main characters that allows us to see this devastating story from different perspectives. In addition, Sean Bobbitt's stunning & immersive cinematography work and a beautifully understated score composed from Mark Isham & Craig Harris also deserve big recognition.

I'd say one of the very few nit-picks that I have with the film is that I almost wish Stanfield & Kaluuya shared even more time on screen together. Don't get me wrong though, they still have a lot with one another, and it's always so magnetic to watch the two of them go at it as you realize you are witnessing two of the most talented actors of their generation who will continue to dominate our screens for many decades to come. It's so exciting to watch in a film that is otherwise an often tense, devastating, and infuriating, but one that absolutely demands to be seen by everyone.

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