The Best And Worst Black Movies Of 2010

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2009 proved to be a fairly interesting year for black film in Hollywood. Push, an indie film directed by Lee Daniels about an obese illiterate teenager in Harlem quickly became a favorite on the film festival circuit. Based on the novel  by Sapphire the film was granted two fairy godparents: Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. With a new movie title and distribution deal through Lionsgate Films, Precious premiered in theaters the weekend of November 9th 2009. It opened to rave reviews and would later secure six Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actress win for comedian Mo’Nique.

But other than Precious, The Blind Side, Notorious, Obsessed and Invictus pickings were pretty slim for Black actors in 2009.

2010 witnessed an impressive number of films starring African-Americans in lead roles, but was it a case of quantity vs. quality?  The Urban Daily has compiled an end of the year report card.

Which was your favorite and/or least favorite Black film of 2010? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Death at a Funeral (SONY SCREEN GEMS)

Starring: Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Loretta Devine, Zoe Saldana, Tracy Morgan

Opening Weekend Position: #4

Total Domestic Gross: $42.7 million

Urban Daily Rating: C

Originally a 2007 British comedy film, comedian Chris Rock came up with the idea for a remake while on his way to a meeting with Clint Culpepper, the president of Sony Screen Gems.  To Rock’s surprise, Culpepper gave the project the green light, and worked on adapting the script for U.S. audiences.  As Rock explained in a NY Times article ‘We had to de-Britishize it, Americanize it, and write new comedy within the confines of the big jokes.’ Therein lay the problem.  Anyone who’s watched comedians  Eddie Izzard and Ricky Gervais, or flicks like “Snatch” or “Rock n Rolla’ knows that British comedy has a distinct flavor of its own. By stripping the idiosyncrasies and language of the original film, this 2010 remake was a third rate interpretation.

Lottery Ticket (WARNER BROS.)

Starring: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Loretta Devine,

Dir: Erik White

Opening Weekend Position: #4

Total Domestic Gross: $24.7 million

Urban Daily Rating: C-

Otherwise known as “Friday: The Next Generation.”  While I like Bow Wow and Brandon T. Jackson, their talents were clearly wasted on this project.  ‘Lottery Ticket’ seemed like a roll call for every urban film stereotype under the sun.  Gold-digging hoochie? Check. Pimpalicious pastor? Sexually ambiguous ex-con neighborhood bully? Holy-roller grandma? Check, check and check.

RELATED POSTS: Five Reasons To See “Lottery Ticket”

Takers (SONY SCREEN GEMS)

Starring: Idris Elba, Paul Walker, T.I., Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, Matt Dillon

Dir: John Luessenhop

Opening Weekend Position: #1

Total Domestic Gross:  $57.7 million

Urban Daily Rating: B

‘Takers’ was originally scheduled for a summer 2009 release—and then came the beat down heard ‘round the world.  In February 2009 R&B singer Chris Brown (executive producer and one of the leads in ‘Takers’) turned himself in to the L.A.P.D. for savagely assaulting his then girlfriend, fellow music superstar Rihanna.  The fall-out was immediate. Once TMZ posted pics of Rihanna’s bruised and battered face, it was curtains for Chris Brown, and by extension ‘Takers.’  SONY quietly shelved the project; wisely deducing such negative publicity would hurt ‘Takers’ box office sales.

RELATED: 5 Reasons To See “Takers”

Fast forward to summer 2010, and ‘Takers’ shoots to the number one spot, even besting America’s sweetheart Julia Robert’s chick flick, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and horror flick “The Last Exorcism” (which was predicted to take the box office’s top spot).  But interesting back story aside, ‘Takers’ was a solid action summer flick.  Idris Elba’s native British accent brought panache and intercontinental swag to his character, Gordon Cozier—leader of a team of bank robbers, who could easily double for a GQ cover shoot.  While critics tirelessly compared it to “Ocean’s 11” and “Heat” let’s face it—both of those casts put together wouldn’t equal half the sizzle and sexy of ‘Takers.’

Karate Kid’(SONY)

Starring: Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Jackie Chan

Dir: Harald Zwart

Opening Weekend Position: #1 rank

Total Domestic Gross: $176.5 million

Urban Daily Rating: A

Leave it to Will Smith and his super spawn Jaden Smith, to successfully recreate one of the ‘80’s best teen films.  When word first came that Smith would be updating ‘The Karate Kid’ and casting his own son in the lead, the news was given the industry side eye.  No way could you top the beloved Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and his cleaning/training witticisms—“wax on, wax off!” Well, Smith would have the last laugh—all the way to the bank.  ‘Karate Kid’ made the #1 spot its opening weekend, and stayed in the top 10 spot for over 6 weeks, grossing over $176 million domestically. With the shrewd casting of Jackie Chan as the new mentor, and keeping intact relatable themes of being the new kid on the block, first love, and facing your fears, moviegoers hardly cared that their new ‘Karate Kid’ was a 12 year old African-American boy with cornrows to boot.

RELATED: GALLERY: “Karate Kid” Premiere In Los Angeles!

For Colored Girls (LIONSGATE)

Starring: Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Kimberly Elise, Janet Jackson

Dir: Tyler Perry

Opening Weekend Position: #3

Total Domestic Gross: $37.5 million (as of December 16, 2010)

Urban Daily Rating: B-

‘For Colored Girls’ had so much going for itself.  It had an amazing multigenerational cast of actresses which included Washington, Rashad, Elise, Newton, as well rich source material from Ntozake’s Shange’s 1974 choreopoem.  Then Tyler Perry stepped in.  While I give him credit for keeping most of Shange’s prose intact in the script, it just didn’t translate well onscreen.  Whenever one of the characters broke out in soliloquy, it felt stilted and stunted the flow of the drama unfolding.  The problem with most of Perry’s films is that his directing tends to be heavy-handed—he’s like a surgeon who reaches for a sledgehammer, instead of a scalpel.  Film and theatre are two very different mediums; with a strong script and talented actors, there’s no need to punctuate every scene in bold face caps and exclamation marks.

RELATED: 5 Reasons To See Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls”

Why Did I Get Married Too?”(LIONSGATE)

Dir: Tyler Perry

Opening Weekend Position: #2

Total Domestic Gross: $60 million

TheUrbanDaily Rating: C-

Hey sue me, but I actually liked the first “Why Did I Get Married?”  It was well cast, funny, and had plenty of ‘oh no they didn’t!’ moments to fuel the water cooler chatter at work.  The dinner scene alone was worth the price of admission—it was an emotional Hiroshima, where secrets were exposed, and everyone felt the fall out.  However, it was disappointing to see that none of the characters had grown in the least when the sequel came around. Angela (Tasha Smith) was as obnoxiously shrill as ever, career-driven Dianne (Sharon Leal) was still doing dirt behind her hubby’s (Perry) back, and control-freak Patricia (Jackson) was about to drop a bombshell on unsuspecting Gavin (Yoba).  WDIGM2 seemed to have lost all humor and heart—the characters and deeds were just plain nasty, bordering on unredeemable. What was supposed to be Janet Jackson’s pivotal scene was just an exercise in Overacting 101.  Even a surprise cameo by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’ couldn’t save this disaster of a movie.

Just Wright (FOX SEARCHLIGHT)

Starring: Queen Latifah, Common, Phylicia Rashad, Pam Grier, James Pickens

Dir: Sanaa Hamri

Opening Weekend Position: #4

Total Domestic Gross: $21.5 million

Urban Daily Rating: B

‘Just Wright’ was a rarity for black film in 2010—an actual rom-com with two African-American lead actors.  Directed by Sanaa Hamri (‘Something New’), ‘Just Wright’ was a belated Valentine kiss to black female moviegoers wondering “When do we get our own Prince Charming?” They got it in the form of Common, the boho hip-hop god of many a late night female fantasy.  Queen Latifah made a winning modern day Cinderella as good-hearted physical therapist Leslie Wright, and Paula Patton more than fit the bill (and those skin tight dresses) as the beautiful, but cold-hearted gold digger Morgan Alexander. While there was a decided lack of chemistry between Common and Latifah, ‘Just Wright’ gets kudos for showing that good girls can get the dream job and the dream guy without the ‘Gossip Girl’ scheming or being a size 2.

RELATED: Common Gives Five Reasons To See “Just Wright”

Our Family Wedding (FOX SEARCHLIGHT)

Starring: Lance Gross, America Ferrara, Forest Whitaker, Carlos Mencia

Dir: Rick Famuyiwa

Opening Weekend Position: #6 (top ten for 3 weeks)

Total Domestic Gross: $20.2 million

TheUrbanDaily Rating: C-

‘Our Family Wedding’ was Rick Fumuyiwa’s return to the big screen. After an impressive debut, with the touching and nostalgic ‘The Wood’, it was hard to believe Fumiyawa would be part of a project that catered to the lowest denominator in race relations.  The film was chock full of black and Mexican stereotypes, bordering on the offensive.  When Lucia (America Ferrara) introduces her fiance Marcus (Lance Gross) to her family and her grandmother collapses in a dramatic faint, I thought ‘A bit dramatic, but ok.’  By the time the goat raced across in the scene at the reception site, I’d had enough.  What could have been a humorous but intelligent discourse on cross-cultural relations, ended up being a film version of “Interracial Dating for Dummies.”

RELATED: Is ‘Our Family Wedding’ A Rip Off?

Brooklyn’s Finest (OVERTURE FILMS)

Starring: Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Ellen Barkin, Richard Gere

Dir: Antoine Fuqua

Opening Weekend Position: #2

Total Domestic Gross: $27.1 million

TheUrbanDaily Rating: B+

One of 2010’s sleeper hits.  While ‘Training Day’ will hold a higher industry pedigree because of Denzel Washington and his Oscar win, ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ had a higher ratio of strong performances.  Ethan Hawke was wickedly good as dirty cop Sal Procida, who could definitely give Det. Alonzo Harris (Washington’s character from ‘Training Day’) a run for his money.  Don Cheadle was pitch-perfect in portraying his conflicting loyalties as a narc detective who’s been undercover so long that the lines between good and evil were becoming a blurry mess. But the surprise knock out performance was by none other than Richard Gere.  Seemingly out of place for such an urban and gritty drama, Gere was heartbreaking as a suicidal and burned out N.Y.P.D. beat cop, still searching for his definitive and shining moment.  ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ brilliantly captured the city’s love/hate relationship with the men in blue, and how easily absolute power can corrupt absolutely.

‘Book of Eli’ (WARNER BROS.)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldham, Mina Kulis, Jennifer Beales

Dir: The Hughes Brothers

Opening Weekend Position: #2

Total Domestic Gross: $94.8 million

Urban Daily Rating: B

After an almost ten year absence with the mediocre ‘From Hell,’ The Hughes brothers came back in fighting form with this quasi-religious sci-fi flick.  Taking a much needed break from his usual quietly stoic roles, Washington stepped into the role of action hero quite nicely, shooting and maiming bad guys left and right in a post-apocalyptic landscape.  Aside from Will Smith, science fiction movies have historically suffered from a distinct lack of melanin particularly when it comes to sci-fi features set in the future. Yes, America black people will still be here 200 years from now and guess what? We just might be the ones to save humanity from the brink of extinction.

More Best and Worst of 2010

Shamika’s Top 10 Albums Of 2010

Jerry’s Top 10 Albums Of 2010

Top 10 Award Show Moments Of 2010 [VIDEO]

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