Last year’s Oscar season was the target of #OscarsSoWhite, a trending hashtag sparked by the lack of diversity in lead and supporting actor categories. With the Academy Awards quickly approaching, several Oscars hopefuls look to use the conversation on race and civil rights to reestablish the importance of black presence in film. Check out these four films as they hit the silver screen this season.
Fences (December 25)
Director and star, Denzel Washington, is the backbone to this film adaption of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play. Troy (Washington) is a former baseball player in the Negro Leagues who was unable to move to the major leagues due to racial discrimination. Despite his discouragement, his son Cory (Jovan Adepo) attempts to do what his father couldn’t do by defying the racial perception and chasing his dreams of becoming a professional football player. Fences portrays racial discrimination through the contention and differing views within the father-son relationship. Watch the trailer here.
Loving (Now Playing)
Based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, Loving is the story of how one interracial marriage was the catalyst for change in light of devastation caused by marriage laws in 1950s Virginia. Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred’s (Ruth Negga) fight to love each other despite racial differences led to Loving v. Virginia, a landmark civil rights victory that deemed anti-marriage on the basis of race unconstitutional. Loving approaches the topic of civil rights in a poignant way, recognizing that loving and being loved is a connection beyond the color of your skin. Watch the trailer here.
Hidden Figures (December 25)
Based on the nonfiction work by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures explores race as well as female empowerment. The inspiration for the film covers three decades from the perspectives of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson. Octavia Spencer (Vaughan), Janelle Monáe (Jackson), and Taraji P. Henson (Johnson) portray the black female mathematicians who worked for NASA during World War II with both poise and sass. The film boldly shows that a woman’s intelligence and success is the result of her passion and raw talent, not her skin color or femininity. Hidden Figures is ideal for any woman who has ever been underestimated because of her gender or race. Watch the trailer here.
Moonlight (Now Playing)
Moonlight is a coming-of-age drama encompassing the effects of growing up poor, black, and gay. Influenced by the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, Moonlight delves into intersectional discrimination. A thought-provoking and heart-wrenching progression from pain to healing, this movie is a must-see for understanding the levels of oppression experienced by an individual struggling against multiple forms of discrimination. Watch the trailer here.
There’s no doubt that these four films will ignite conversations about race and civil rights in the upcoming year. As experienced by many of the characters, change is proactive, so don’t just listen to the buzz this Academy Awards season. Find the time between classes, late night study sessions, and coffee breaks to watch these inspirational flicks and be a part of the conversation.
by Abby Welles