This year, I am participating in #NFOTD (New Film of the Day). For those who don’t know, NFOTD was started by, Cybel Martin, DP extraordinaire. Every day #NFOTD participants watch a film that they’ve never seen before and tweet about it. I recently hit my second #NFOTD milestone, my 200th film of the year. To celebrate, my first 100, I highlighted by faves from the first 100 films I watched. And to follow-up, I decided to highlight some of my favorite #NFTOD films, from the first 200 (more specifically from films 101-200).
Favorite Performance #1: Gabrielle Union in Being Mary Jane
Directed By: Salim Akil
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Lisa Vidal, Omari Hardwick, Robinne Lee
The 411: I often lament the fact that we rarely get to see women of color do normal, everyday things on screens big or small. Being Mary Jane is creator Mara Brock Akil’s answer to my lamentations. And Gabrielle’s portrayal of Mary Jane, a TV personality who is trying manage her professional, family, and love life, is one of her best performances to date. She brings life to the lovable yet flawed Mary Jane.
Favorite Performance #2: Matthew McConaughey in Mud
Directed By: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon
The 411: Matthew McConaughey has been on a winning streak with his latest film roles. In Mud he delivers another masterful performance in the role of Mud, a drifter in hiding. His scenes with his young co-stars are exceptionally well acted.
Favorite Theatrical Release: Fruitvale Station
Directed By: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, and Melonie Diaz
The 411: Fruitvale Station tells the story of Oscar Grant. This film packs an emotional punch that begins with the very first frame of the film. The writing and direction are superb and the performances are heartfelt and powerful. After seeing the movie, I was all the way in my feelings.
Favorite Documentary: 20 Feet From Stardom
Directed By: Morgan Neville
Starring: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, and Judith Hill
The 411: This film gives an inside look at the lives of of the powerhouse vocalists who stand behind the main acts. The women candidly discuss everything from why they sing, how they started as background singers, and their secret desires for stardom.
Favorite Foreign Film: The Sapphires
Directed By: Wayne Blair
Starring: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Miranda Tapsell, Shari Sebbens
The 411: What’s not to love about a film that incorporates family, love, and Austalia’s answer to The Supremes? The Sapphires is based on the real life story of a group of Aboriginal women who are discovered at a talent showcase and transformed into a soulful group who travel to sing for the American troops.
Favorite Short Film: Premature
Directed By: Rashaad Ernesto Green
Starring: Zora Howard, Jason Sawyer, Suzette Gunn, Stephen Henderson
The 411:This film packs in a lot of emotion in only 15 minutes. Zora feels like she has nowhere to turn for help. Desperate, her decision could have lasting and deadly consequences.
Favorite Television Movie: Call Me Crazy, A Five Film
Directed By: Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sharon Maguire, Bonnie Hunt, Ashley Judd
Starring: Brittany Snow, Sarah Hyland, Jennifer Hudson, Octavia Spencer
The 411: A follow-up to Lifetime TV’s 2011 film Five, this installment tackles the issues of mental illness. The film weaves together five short segments and explores the interior lives of women and men living with or loving someone with mental illness.
Favorite Throwback Film: Sheba, Baby
Directed By: William Girdler
Starring: Pam Grier, Austin Stoker, D’Urville Martin, Rudy Challenger
The 411: Pam Grier stars as Sheba Shayne, a private investigator who returns home to help her father fight some local mobsters who want to take over his business. As usual, Ms. Grier brings her kick-ass fierceness to the movie. It’s even more significant as it marks Ms. Grier’s last blaxploitation film.
Favorite Historical Film: Free Angela and All Political Prisoners
Directed By: Shola Lynch
Starring: Angela Davis
The 411: This informative film recounts Angela’s rise from a young professor to social activist and chronicles the trial that threatened to end it all and landed her on the FBI’s most wanted list. The film was co-produced by Jada Pinkett Smith and Sidra Smith.
Favorite Netflix Find: The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love
Directed By: Maria Maggenti
Starring: Laurel Holloman, Nicole Ari Parker
The 411: This is a beautiful love story between two young women of different social and economic backgrounds who find themselves going through all the typical struggles of young love. They have to navigate their differences, family and friends which leads to some funny moments. This was Nicole Ari Parker’s first film role.
Most Disturbing Film: The Woman Who Wasn’t There
Directed By: Angelo Guglielmo
Starring: Tania Head, Elia Zedeno, Gerry Bogacz, Brendan Chellis, Lori Mogol
The 411: This film follows a group of 9/11 survivors who have formed a group to support one another. But one of the member’s has a secret.