The critically lauded "12 Years a Slave" has been nominated in several prestigious categories in this Sunday's Golden Globe Awards – and the conspicuous presence of black directors, actors and films this awards season offers a chance to reflect on Hollywood's tortured racial past and hopeful future.
The Golden Globes, which are dominated by the more liberal foreign press, unofficially begin an awards season that will formally conclude at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 2.
While in past years African Americans have rightfully complained about the lack of recognition in major awards categories, 2014 promises to be different. In addition to "12 Years a Slave," other major black films in the running for awards include the independently made "Fruitvale Station," "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." Black men directed all except "Mandela," and black screenwriter John Ridley penned the screenplay for "12 Years a Slave."
BIG BUDGET FILMS
"Her" (R for profanity, sexuality and brief nudity) Oscar-nominee Spike Jonze (for Being John Malkovich) directed this romance drama revolving around a lonely letter writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with the voice (Scarlett Johansson) on his computer's operating system. With Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Bill Hader and Olivia Wilde.
"The Legend of Hercules" (PG-13 for sensuality and intense violence) Mythological saga, set in ancient Greece, revolving around a demigod (Kellan Lutz) torn between pursuing true love and fulfilling his destiny by toppling a tyrannical king (Scott Adkins). With Gaia Weiss, Roxanne McKee, Liam Garrigan and Luke Newberry.
After receiving considerable backlash for not having a black female cast member for several years, NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has hired Sasheer Zamata as a featured player.
Zamata will make her SNL debut January 18 alongside Drake who will be pulling double duty as the show's host and musical guest.
The actress, who has been featured in The New York Times, Time Out New York, Jezebel, and Vulture represents the first African-American female to be a part of SNL's regular cast since Maya Rudolph left the show in November 2007.
Gabrielle Union might as well be a unicorn or a leprechaun or some other mythical creature. She is stunning and petite and warm and kind—all things that actresses of her stature and beauty aren't supposed to be. And get this: She likes bacon.
Not all things bacon, but a quiche-looking thing that sits in rows on a square plate in front of her. She didn't order it so much as it just appeared, all neat and prepared, like magic.
She looks at the food and wonders aloud whether it has bacon in it. She picks it up, inspects it a bit and then, throwing caution to the wind, dives in. Two bites in, she closes her eyes, and it is confirmed: bacon.
Top Ten DVD List for January 7, 2014
"Birth of the Living Dead"
"Inequality for All"
Yo Gotti, Juicy J and Drake all have one thing in common, or ties to it, and it's Memphis. Now, they also have something else in common, they all were named in XXL's list of "The Best Albums of 2013." These three rappers have had a good year and not just with music but also mental growth. However, this is about the impression they have made upon others with their latest music projects.
Rapper Yo Gotti, self-proclaimed King of Memphis, managed to make his way on XXL's "The Best Albums of 2013" list for his album "I AM" on Epic Records.
Outside of XXL's editorial list, "I AM" managed to rank in at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B and Hip-Hop album chart.
When James Avery died on New Year's Day, he had not only amassed an enviable career of television and stage appearances, including a performance as the legendary Howard University Law Professor Charles Hamilton Houston in a 1993 PBS dramatization of the Brown vs. the Board of Education case. His lasting legacy though is as one on the most endearing black father figures in American television history. Twenty-three years after Avery introduced audiences to Judge Phillip Banks, the character still resonates as a counter to the myths of the absentee and irresponsible black father.
Debuting in January of 1990, the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" revolved around a working class cousin Will (Will Smith), who was being taken in by his wealthy kin. The series, which ran six seasons, was based on the real life experience of producer Benny Medina. Avery quickly established himself as the typical television patriarch, but as the character developed many folk began to think of "Uncle Phil," as Avery will forever be remembered, along the lines of classic father figures such as James Evans Sr. (John Amos), Heathcliffe Huxtable (Bill Cosby). And indeed, as the traditional black family has largely disappeared from network television, Uncle Phil's characters resonates even more.
Though Uncle Phil was often uptight and overly formal – echoing Avery's own desire to see more well-spoken, middle-class black men on television – Uncle Phil's backstory was that of a 1960s-era black activist, who entered the legal profession to continue the good fight.