You may have not been named Time’s Person of the Year (unless President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is reading this right now), but you get to shuffle through yet another list of trailers! Also, because I missed you last week, you’re getting an extra helping of trailers this week to carry you into the holidays. Charge it to the game. Let’s get right to it...
First Impressions: This trailer is giving me J.J. Abrams directs Mad Max: Fury Road. Tip “T.I.” Harris and Meagan Good are in this joint about a group of folks who get transported to a new world full of “dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity.” At this point, I expect us to discover this world in real life before the year ends...
First Impressions: This is for the mamas! Hosted by Abbi Crutchfield, this show also features fellow comedians such as Ophira Eisenberg (Ask Me Another), Aminah Imani (host of Wine Before Nine), Ester Steinberg (Stand Up Mom), and more. Each episode, the ladies “dish over anonymous mom confessionals, commiserate over unsolicited advice-givers, check out the latest mom fashions and everything in-between.”
First Impressions: This is the last film in the enriching anthology series by Steve McQueen and it follows 12-year-old Kinsley, who has a “fascination for astronauts and rockets.” He is called to the headmaster’s office for disruptive behavior and transferred to a school for those with “special needs.” This film is a look at the systemic effects of Black children in the education system.
First Impressions: Michael Fatogun co-stars in this thriller about a private military unit that tries to uncover whatever the fuck NATO and the Allied Forces were hiding to conduct “secret, occult experiments in a bid to win the Arms Race.” Lawd, I hope the Black guy survives.
First Impressions: You may have seen this by now because it’s readily available on the internet. But if you haven’t, stop what you’re doing right now and watch, if only for the hilarious Knicks vs. Bulls shit-talking between POTUS #44 and the two affable hosts. Oh, and if you haven’t seen their Pepsi bodega ad, you need to see that, too. Oh—and I heard Season 3 of the show will premiere Jan. 31.
First Impressions: Spike Lee is executive producing this flick, but this is written, directed and starring Nate Parker. It’s Parker’s film, and I can’t go without mentioning the elephant in the room—his college rape charge (which resulted in non-conviction but derailed his last film, 2016's Birth of a Nation). In what appears to be a retribution tour, Parker had begun to do press addressing that when the film premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. The movie deets, per the press release, are: “After witnessing his son murdered by a white police officer who goes uncharged, Marine veteran Lincoln ‘Linc’ Jefferson (Parker) takes justice into his own hands in a series of events he hopes will finally lead to justice for his son.” Omari Hardwick, Vanessa Bell Calloway and Shane Paul McGhie also star in the film.
First Impressions: The Rookie returns in a relevant way and its third season will tackle police brutality. In fact, the crew enlisted Arisha Hatch of Color Of Change (also a 2020 The Root 100 honoree) to help with the new season’s storylines. Richard T. Jones, Mekia Cox and Titus Makin co-star in the series and the third season will also feature guest stars Michael Beach, Harold Perrineau and Crystal Coney.
First Impressions: Written by, directed by and starring Davien Harris, Some Kind of Christmas follows Gary, who brings home the perfect “Ken” to his family for the holidays after a break-up and constant pressures to start a family. Lawd. You can stream the film at its official website here.
First Impressions: Yeah, yeah, yeah, Mario Lopez, but I’m here for one thing. Like most of Black Twitter wants to know, is the Black man (portrayed by Martin Morrow) in the trailer the nigga who the Colonel stole the recipe from, or nah? If you want to get into this ridiculousness, you can watch it online now via Lifetime’s website.
DA YIE (Whistler Film Festival, available through Dec. 31; Stuttgarter Filmwinter, available Jan. 6-20, 2021; Minimalen Short Film Fest. Trondheim, available Jan. 12-17, 2021; Un poing c’est court, available Jan. 15-23, 2021; Courtoujours Lannion, available Jan. 30, 2021)
First Impressions: Co-written by Anthony Nti (who also directed) and Chingiz Karibekov, DA YIE is described as “is an intense day trip in sunny Ghana, that endangers the innocence of two kids.” The film, which is Oscar-qualifying, brought together the local community by fostering a mainly Ghanaian cast and crew on set.
First Impressions: From the press release, Dọlápọ̀ Is Fine “is a story about a young black girl’s relationship with her hair and name, against the backdrop of her very British boarding school, asking the question: How do you hold on to your celebrated identity when you realize that the environment that you inhabit wasn’t made for you?” The film, directed by Ethosheia Hylton and written by Joan Iyiola and Chibundu Onuzo won the HBO Short Film Competition at the 2020 American Black Film Festival.
First Impressions: Raise your hand if you even knew there was a first season. Regardless, Will certainly knows how to take over every inch of the internet. Homie is tapping into every single demographic he can. The second season will feature folks such as Alicia Keys, DJ Khaled, Jason Derulo, Jill Scott, Lil Nas X, Liza Koshy, Ludacris, Black Thought and Master P.
Feeling Through Experience (Slamdance Film Festival; Release Date: Feb. 12-25 2021)
First Impressions: Feeling Through Experience is a coming-of-age story that “follows Tereek, a teen wandering the streets of New York, desperate for a place to crash when he encounters Artie, a DeafBlind man in need of help getting home. What begins as an awkward meeting between strangers, quickly becomes an intimate bond between friends, and a journey that forever changes Tereek.” This Oscar-qualifying short (made in partnership with Helen Keller Services) is reported to be the first film to feature a DeafBlind actor (Robert Tarango) in a leading role. The film, which seems to feature more disability representation, also stars Steven Prescod (who is blind).
First Impressions: Yo, Holly (Jennifer Freeman) basically does the woman-proposes-to-man thing, but he breaks up with her for his ex. Then, Holly has to go on their originally planned engagement trip anyway for some reason but finds serendipitous love, so all is well! Wild. This film also stars Johnny Pacar and Michael Copan.
Marry Me This Christmas (Brown Sugar App; Now Streaming)
First Impressions: Brandon Jay McLaren (Graceland, The Killing) stars as pastor Daniel English, who takes over his hometown church and falls in love anew with his childhood friend who is now his parishioner. Ethical boundaries alert!
First Impressions: Y’all! A Christmas movie starring Robin Givens and Darrin “Dance Grooves” Henson. Enough said!
First Impressions: A savvy young vlogger (Kearstin Moore) loses her dog (and vlog co-star), which runs the risk of ruining Christmas! Oh no!
First Impressions: Clifton Powell. Again, ‘nuff said.
First Impressions: The Godfather (Forest Whitaker) is back! Here’s the second season scoop: “Season two will see Bumpy continue his struggle to reclaim command over Harlem from the Italian mobsters by attempting to seed internal discord and sever their vital heroin pipeline. Meanwhile, Malcolm X will be forced to choose between violent and nonviolent response to the near-constant threats to his life and his relationship with Bumpy will be severely tested.”
First Impressions: In Catharsis, “a Black mother in mourning confronts the ambitious District Attorney who refused to prosecute the NYPD officer responsible for her son’s death.” Listen...this is super relevant because many district attorneys need to be held accountable in real life when it comes to police brutality. You can RSVP for the online premiere here.
First Impressions: E.R. Ruiz (Sons of Anarchy) co-stars in this film about a man who dons a disguise to join a therapy group for disfigured patients in order to connect with his cancer-stricken mother, but after being revealed, he helps the members gain confidence in themselves. I’m trying to grapple with the offensive nature of this plot device (and hoping the main character experiences a true reckoning with his deception), though per the press release, the film explores the “importance of facial equality and representation.”
First Impressions: Co-starring Michael Dorn, Agent Revelation is about a super soldier who can communicate with aliens and a secret organization works with him to find out why they’ve returned to Earth. So basically, this is what we can expect to actually happen in real life during the season finale of 2020? Bet.
First Impressions: Starring Kamilah Marshall and Terron Brooks (heyyy Eddie Kendricks from The Temptations movie!), Holidaze Harmony is a virtual concert to get you in the holiday spirit. You can cop tickets for the online event here.
First Impressions: Aramis Hudson co-stars in this film about a young guy who wishes to become a pro skater. Pharrell Williams is producing this joint, which totally tracks.
First Impressions: Directed by AK Reed, Conflicted follows Benny the Butcher who tries to turn his life around after his stint in prison. However, he’s tempted to join the game again, but he falls in love, hence the title—SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?! Written and starring Deuce King, the movie’s cast includes Westside Gunn and J Holiday. Also, I heard a constipated cottage cheese casserole appears in this film, too.
Amplify Voices (Revry; Now Streaming)
First Impressions: Isiah Thomas, Laganja Estranja, Lauriann Gibson, Isis King, CJ Wallace gather together to discuss queer and BIPOC intersectionality on Revry, which is “the world’s first and largest LGBTQ virtual cable network, accessible to over 250+ million homes and devices in over 130 countries.”
Peace of Mind With Taraji (Facebook Watch; Now Streaming, Every Monday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET)
First Impressions: We already gave you the sneak peek of Taraji’s new show (from the premiere episode!) based on mental health awareness and advocacy, now we have the trailer! Taraji is joined by her best friend and co-host Tracie Jade to continue to eliminate mental health stigmas, and it’s definitely something we need, especially these days.
First Impressions: Gentleman Jack Culture Shakers, a program captured by Jamaican filmmaker Storm Saulter “celebrating the contributions of Black and Latinx bartenders from around the country who have taken the extra step in continuing to make history in their own rights through cocktail making.”
First Impressions: It’s always extra fun to be able to see a film from its inception to its execution. I was honored to speak with Frank Abney when he was over at Pixar as an employee developing this film and now he has blossomed into a filmmaker/animator with his own work acquired by a major streaming platform. And yes, this was totally worth the wait.
First Impressions: Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris star in this futuristic action flick about a drone pilot (Idris) and an android officer (Mackie) navigating a deadly militarized zone to try to locate a doomsday device before the insurgents find it. Yikes.
First Impressions: Because of course, we need to formally say farewell to this damn year. We got Black-ass funny folks like Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Natasha Rothwell (Insecure) and Ziwe (Book of Ziwe) to deliver 2020’s final eulogies. Bye, bitch! Also, I spy Franchesca Ramsey, too!
First Impressions: Emily Cheree co-stars in this film, “an up-close and personal look into the lives of two young women, one a runaway and the other a single mom as they navigate their way through the unforgiving and often brutal world of the sex trade in Los Angeles.” Shout-out to stories from the sex workers’ perspective.
OWN’s Food Programming Block: Lovely Bites, Tregaye’s Way, Food Fantasies, Tanya’s Kitchen Table (OWN... duh; Saturdays through Dec. 26)
First Impressions: OWN launched its first-ever block of original food programming this past November and in case you missed it (like me), you still have time to check in during Christmas week. Lovely Bites starring Chef Connie “Lovely” Jackson airs 12 p.m. ET/PT, followed by Tregaye’s Way starring Chef Tregaye Fraser at 12:30 p.m. ET/PT, Food Fantasies featuring several celebrity chefs each episode at 1 p.m. ET/PT, and Tanya’s Kitchen Table starring Chef Tanya Holland at 1:30 p.m. ET/PT.
First Impressions: This docu-comedy follows Pastor Richard Hartley, his wife Stacey and their children Judea and Jordan as well as Hartley’s hometown choir at his church in Long Island, N.Y. Hallelu!
La Vie Magnifique de Charlie (KweliTV; Now Streaming)
First Impressions: Bobby Huntley II’s debut feature film also known as The Charlie Movie, follows “Charlie and her friends Kayla and Keturah as they go along for a wild, hilariously exhilarating, and bittersweet ride—which will surely be the craziest day of Charlie’s life,” navigating aspects of life such as mental health, sickle cell and female sexual empowerment.
Oliver Black (Cinémoi Network; Now Streaming through the holidays)
First Impressions: Oliver Black follows a young boy named Vendredi (Friday) who travels the deserts of Morocco with aspirations to join the circus. However, he’s sold to ISIS in what looks to be a gripping film shining a light on modern-day slavery.
First Impressions: Directed by the legendary Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool), this doc examines “the era when crack fueled racial and economic inequality, hyper-aggressive policing, mass incarceration, and government corruption at the highest level—themes that still resonate today especially in Black and Brown communities.” I’m looking forward to this one.
Black Is Beautiful aka Le Noir Est Beau (Vogue; Now Streaming)
First Impressions: Leaning right into art and creativity, Designer Tia Adeola debuted her Spring/Summer 2021 collection for her namesake label with this gorgeous fashion film which stars R&B singer/songwriter Paloma Ford, rapper and songwriter, Flo Milli and more.
Get Out Alive (Digital; Release Date: Jan. 30, 2021)
First Impressions: Nikki Lynette, who has worked with Spike Lee, will be digitally debuting a theatrical performance (which originally debuted in early 2020 at the renowned Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago) “that takes viewers into her world of dealing with trauma, suicide, and depression.” Much like Taraji’s Facebook Watch show, we need all the mental health awareness content we can get.
American Masters – Charley Pride: I’m Just Me (PBS.org and PBS Video App; Streaming Now through Dec. 26)
First Impressions: In a timely tribute to the late Charley Pride, PBS will be offering Charley Pride: I’m Just Me free for a limited time as part of its American Masters documentary series. Per the press release, the doc “traces the improbable journey of Charley Pride, from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi to his career as a Negro League baseball player and his meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar.”
First Impressions: Hosted by Shaun Robinson, 90 Day Bares All is a backstage peek into the “90 Day Universe”—yes, at this point, there is a whole cinematic universe for the popular franchise. Per the press release, “each week she will be joined by several special guests, ranging from individuals featured in the current season of 90 Day Fiancé to seasoned, familiar faces addressing the most notorious, unanswered rumors.” Get y’all snacks!
No More Wings (FlickerFest; Screening Dates: Jan 22-31, 2021)
First Impressions: From director Abraham Adeyemi and producer Abiola Rufai-Awojide, No More Wings follows two South London men who, as boys, “hang out at the same chicken shop everyday and fancy the same girls” but when they grow up? Well, you know how life is...the two have been taken in very different directions.
First Impressions: Directed by Sheila Nortley (David is Dying, Zion, Victim) and written Kay Jegede (Lara and The Beat), I Am Mary “follows the arrival of a mysterious stranger at the house of a mother who has fled a hostile regime and is now living in exile with her young son.” You can now watch the full film, which stars Raksha Hoost and Colette Dalal Tchatncho (Domina, The Witcher), here.
First Impressions: The series’ tagline: “What’s worse than having to spend Christmas with your entire family? Having a wedding at the same time.” This looks like a holiday full of family drama and shenanigans, which is a good time to experience...from afar.
First Impressions: Recently debuting via Facebook Messenger’s new Watch Together feature, Cardi Tries___ will follow Cardi B as she literally tries out an array of adventures with celebrities including Michelle Rodriguez from the Fast & Furious franchise, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, country music singer and songwriter Mickey Guyton and more. In the premiere episode, she’s trying ballet with Debbie Allen. Okurrt!
First Impressions: This film follows comedian Ron Waters’ (who is a Richard Pryor type) return to the stage after a self-imposed exile from Hollywood. Troubled Waters stars Harry Lennix, Rick Fox, Gina Torres and more.
First Impressions: Hosted by Jeremy Schaap and Lisa Salters, this series will be a retrospective of 2020, including a look at highlights which affected the sports industry, such as the death of Kobe Bryant, Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19. The series will also look ahead to 2021.
First Impressions: From executive producer Malcolm Spellman, Hip Hop Uncovered is a six-part documentary series directed by Rashidi Natara Harper which “takes a deep dive into the paradox of America’s criminalization of the genre and its fascination with the street culture that created it and still exists within it,” telling the story from “the streets up” instead of the top-down.
Ash Land (Oregon Shakespeare Film Festival via its digital platform O!; Now Streaming)
First Impressions: If you’re like me, you barely know any folks who live in Oregon, let alone Black folks. In the short film Ash Land, we see a portrait of a Black woman living in Ashland, Oregon during the global pandemic and the various mental challenges that come with it. Director Sharrifa Ali summed it up best, “We Black. We in Oregon. Look at us.” Produced by The Roots’ Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, you can view the film online here.
First Impressions: Acquired by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY after a very successful film festival run, Alaska Is a Drag stars Martin L. Washington Jr. as Leo, “a glam-obsessed young man with dreams of being a drag superstar, while working in a fish cannery in Alaska and defending himself against homophobic attacks.” That’s not all! Leo then enlists the help of an amateur boxer to fight back against those bigoted bullies. I’m all the way here for this and can’t wait to check it out.
First Impressions: Zoey and the gang are returning after their break. Last time we left the undergrad portrayed by Yara Shahidi, she’d decided to drop out of school to pursue her fashion aspirations full time. Oh, and they’re continuing the teasing energy over at Instagram, too. We got babies, (shirtless) baes and besos (yeah, had to pivot to another language to keep up the alliteration). So much to catch up on!!
And with that (“that” being 50-odd trailers), I bid you adieu for the weekend...to take many naps. ‘Til next time!