2008 will be remembered as a breakout year for African-American women both in front of and behind the camera, with my #1 picks for Best Feature (The Secret Life of Bees), Best Independent (I'm Through with White Girls) and Best Documentary (The Souls of Black Girls) all being directed by sisters. It also marked the emergence of a number of lesser-known actresses like Lia Johnson (I'm Through with White Girls) and Rutina Wesley (How She Move).
While veteran character thespians Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Life of Benjamin Button) and Viola Davis (Doubt) have generated Oscar buzz for their stellar support work, Alicia Keys (The Secret Life of Bees) proved that she has a big future in Hollywood, should she ever opt to shift her focus from music to the big screen. Most of the best black male performances were delivered by the usual suspects, brothers like Jeffrey Wright and Rob Brown, although Evan Ross and Omar Benson Miller proved themselves to be rising stars to be reckoned with.
Of course, I have to include a little coal in the stocking for folks associated with offensive flicks such as First Sunday and What Up? which portrayed black people in the worst possible light. Let's just pray that 2009 will signal the end of the disturbing trend towards modern minstrel shows.
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