“The Call” (TriStar) Starring: Halle Berry, Morris Chestnut, Abigail Breslin

Movie Gross: $51million

Grade: C

Director: Brad Anderson

Cast: Halle Berry, Morris Chestnut, Abigail Breslin

Movie Gross: $51 million

What starts off as a chilling and heart-pounding thriller, becomes a victim of head scratching plot holes. Abigail Breslin proves why she’s one of the best younger actresses in Hollywood.

Director: Brad Anderson

Grade: C

“LUV” (Indomina Releasing)  Starring: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover

Movie Gross:  N/A

What does it mean to be a man? Director Sheldon Candis explores the fallacies of violence and hyper-masculinity through the eyes of 11 year old Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) as he spends the day with his ex-con uncle, Vincent (Common).

Director: Sheldon Candis

Grade: B

“Mother of George” (Oscilloscope Pictures)  Starring: Danai Gurira, Isaach de Bankole, Yaya Alafia, Anthony Okungbowa

Movie Gross: N/A

Danai Gurira turns in a quiet but powerful performance as a newly wed Nigerian bride under pressure to pressure from her family to conceive. Yaya Alafia is equally compelling as a young woman navigating the divide between her traditional African roots and embracing America’s modern brand of womanhood.  Cinematographer Bradford Young brings beauty and elegance to the streets of Brooklyn.

Director: Andrew Dosunmu

Grade: B

“Blue Caprice” (Sundance Selects) Starring: Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond, Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Lauren Adams

Movie Gross: N/A

Based on the horrifying Beltway sniper attacks of 2002, Isaiah Washington both mesmerizes and terrifies as an unbalanced ex-Army vet who loses his grip on reality.  Tequan Richmond’s unspoken need for love and a father figure is heartbreaking to watch, making his fall from grace believable.

Director: Alexandre Moors

Grade: B+

“Fruitvale Station” (Weinstein Films)  Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ariana Neal

Movie Gross: $16 million

Michael B. Jordan carries the movie from start to finish with an emotional authenticity most actors would kill for.  Jordan jumps from loving father and boyfriend to angry and menacing so fluidly, making his character perfectly imperfect.

Director: Ryan Coogler

Grade: B

“The Butler” (Weinstein Films)  Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Yaya Alafia

Movie Gross: $116 million

Lee Daniels gives us a touching family drama set against the living history of the Civil Rights movement.  Initially dismissed as just another subservient domestic movie, screenwriter Danny Strong avoids making Cecil Gaines a static character, but rather a man who learns to evolve with the times and grow into his truth and power.

Director: Lee Daniels

Grade: B

“12 Years A Slave” (Fox Searchlight)  Starring:  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’O, Michael Fassbender, Adepero Oduye, Brad Pitt

Movie Gross: $36 million

Part cinematic revelation, part searing indictment on the atrocities of the slave trade in America, Steve McQueen paints a perfect portrait of the ugliest chapter in our country’s history.

Director: Steve McQueen

Grade: A+

“Best Man Holiday” (Universal)  Starring: Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Terence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Regina King, Melissa DeSousa, Harold Perrineau

Movie Gross: $69 million

Malcolm Lee reunites this dysfunctional group of college friends for a surprisingly mature and poignant look at love, marriage, and friendship in the 21st century.

Director: Malcolm Lee

Grade: B

“Go For Sisters”

Movie Gross: N/A

Starring: LisaGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross, Edward James Olmos

While mainstream (read White) feminist writers bemoaned the lack of female driven films, “Go For Sisters” delivers a powerful story of two former high school BFF’s whose lives take very different paths.  LisaGay Hamilton is simply fantastic as a mother racked with guilt and worry over her wayward son. Yolonda Ross is equally compelling as a former drug addict dodging the ghosts of her checkered past.

Director: John Sayles

Grade:  B-

“Baggage Claim “(Fox Searchlight)  Starring: Paula Patton, Derek Luke, Jenifer Lewis, Taye Diggs, Boris Kodjoe, Djimon Hounsou

Movie Gross: $21 million

A formulaic, paint-by-the-numbers romantic comedy, the two saving graces of this project are the chocolicious man candy and Jill Scott as a sexually assertive flight attendant.

Director: David E. Talbert

Grade: C

“Peeples” (Lionsgate)  Starring: Kerry Washington, Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkeson

Movie Gross: $9 million

While it was fun to see Kerry Washington in a more light-hearted role, there was a decided lack of chemistry with Craig Robinson.

Director: Tina Chism Gordon

Grade: C

“42” (Warner Bros.)  Starring:  Chadwick Boseman, Nicole Beharie,  Harrison Ford, Andre Holland

Movie Gross: $95 million

Stepping into the role of the iconic Brooklyn Dodger, Chadwick Boseman  gives a deeply human and compelling performance. Nicole Beharie brings light and grace to her role as Robinson’s wife, Rachel.

Director: Brian Helgeland

Grade: B-

After Earth (SONY)  Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Movie Gross: $60 million

The project that will forever be remembered as Will Smith’s box office Achille’s heel. While most critics mercilessly savaged this futuristic saga,  there was actually touching commentary about adolescence and grief.

Grade: C

“Tyler Perry’s Temptation” (Lionsgate)  Starring: Jurnee Smollett, Lance Gross, Robbie Jones

Director: Tyler Perry

Movie Gross: $51 million

Tyler Perry has successfully built his movie empire serving down home, deep fried morality plays, but “Temptation” bludgeoned moviegoers with its cautionary tale against adultery. Using AIDS as a plot device to police women’s sexuality is just in bad taste, no matter how well- meaning.

Grade: D

“Winnie” (Image Entertainment)  Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Elias Koteas

Director: Darrell Roodt

Movie Gross: N/A

Yes, Jennifer Hudson has an Oscar, A Golden Globe and a SAG award under her belt, but she wasn’t seasoned enough to portray someone as iconic as Winnie Mandela.

Grade: C 

“Mandela Long Walk To Freedom” (Weinstein)  Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris

Director: Justin Chadwick

A far superior project to “Winnie”, “Long Walk To Freedom” is a fitting tribute to one of the world’s most iconic freedom fighters.

Grade: B

“The Happy Sad” (Miasma Films)  Starring: Leroy McClain, Sorel Carradine, Charlie Barnett, Cameron Scoggins

Based on Ken Urban’s stage play, Rodney Evans serves up a refreshingly honest look at modern relationships and sexual fluidity. Cameron Scoggins and Charlie Barnett are the heart and soul of this multi-racial ensemble.

Director: Rodney Evans

Grade: B 

“Big Words” (AFFRM)  Starring: Dorian Missick, Yaya Alafia, Gbenga Abinnagbe

A nostalgic love letter to the good ole days of hip-hop and dreams deferred.  While “Big Words” could have benefited greatly from seeing the characters in their glory days, the movie effectively captures the struggle of letting go and moving forward.

Director: Neil Drumming

Grade: B-

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