“Selma,” “Annie,” and “Top Five” provide great holiday options at the movies

selma

David Oyelowo, (center) portrays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  in his tortured, relentless fight for equal rights under the American constitution. King’s non-violent civil rights movement promoted marches, sit-ins and acts of civil disobedience, strategies that have resurfaced in today’s society to publicize the scourge of white police officers killing unarmed Black men and boys with impunity only to escape punishment from grand juries which refuse to indict them for their crimes.

By Carmen Glover

Three diverse movies offer a treat for movie patrons this Christmas season: “Selma,” “Annie” and “Top Five,” which each tackle a different subject that is ripe for debate. “Selma” opened on Christmas Day in limited release and will open nationwide on January 9, 2015.

Oprah Winfrey appears in "Selma" which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

Oprah Winfrey appears in “Selma” which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

The movie is directed by Ava DuVernay, who co-writes the movie with Paul Webb. “Selma is produced by Oprah Winfrey and stars David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Carmen Ejogo as his wife Coretta and features other seasoned actors such as Tim Roth and Lorraine Toussaint.

Selma cast wear "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts to the movie's premiere. Those were the words uttered 11 times by African-American father, husband and grandfather Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York on July 17 when he was choked to death by NYPD detective Daniel Panteleo, whom the grand jury failed to indict, resulting in ongoing protests for justice.

Selma cast wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts to the movie’s premiere. Those were the words uttered 11 times by African-American father, husband and grandfather Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York on July 17 when he was choked to death by NYPD detective Daniel Pantaleo, whom the grand jury failed to indict, resulting in ongoing protests for justice.

“Selma” is the first big screen film that tells the story of the non-violent civil rights leader. “Selma” delves into the civil rights movement King spearheaded that featured marches and protests in the quest for voting rights, equality under the law and the right to live in dignity and be treated with respect. True to form, the King estate, run by his children, refused to grant use of his speeches for the film. Nevertheless, the creative forces behind the film produced a stellar, timely and riveting film, which was nominated for several industry awards so far.

annie

Academy-Award winner Jamie Foxx embraces an ebullient Quevenzhane Wallis, who has transformed the role of “Annie” to one that is relatable to  a broader racial group.

“Annie,” which was released in theaters a week ago, stars Quevenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx in a modern retelling of a musical classic that has always been a hit with families that have small children. “Annie” tells the tale of children in the foster care system, their interactions with those who are charged with their care and their quest for survival. Wallis, who burst on the movie scene in “Beast of the Southern Wild,” which earned her an Oscar nomination, shares great chemistry with Foxx and the duo combine to expand “Annie’s” scope from one which emphasized a mostly white cast to one where African-Americans take the lead roles and deliver convincingly.

top five

Chris Rock, seen with Rosario Dawson in a scene from “Top Five” which Rock wrote and directed. The movie is filled with appearances by comedians that span a wide spectrum.

“Top Five” tells the story of Andre Allen (Chris Rock), a comedian who is busy promoting his first serious film while simultaneously coordinating his upcoming wedding to his reality star fiancée, portrayed  by Gabrielle Union. Rosario Dawson plays a hard-nosed reporter who hangs out with Rock in an attempt to get information for a more personal, real-life article for her newspaper.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 06:  Leslie Jones attends the premiere of "Top Five" at the Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Ernesto Di Stefano Photography/WireImage)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 06: Leslie Jones attends the premiere of “Top Five” at the Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Ernesto Di Stefano Photography/WireImage)

Throughout the film, a bevy of comedians such as Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler and scene stealer Leslie Jones discuss their top five hip hop artists, with hilarious results that include insults hurled all around, episodes of poor judgment and payback that is bound to keep patrons talking and laughing for days.–OnPointPress.net. 

NAACP Image Awards reflect diversity, balance, fairness

Forest Whitaker received the NAACP's Chairman's Award and Best Actor Award in a movie for "The Butler."

Forest Whitaker received the NAACP’s Chairman’s Award and Best Actor Award in a movie for “The Butler.”

By Carmen Glover

The 45th NAACP Image Awards, held on Saturday, February 22 in Pasadena, California, achieved what the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild combined failed miserably to do: honor a broad range of deserving African-Americans who showcased outstanding performances during the past year. Broadcast live for the first time on TV One, the 2014 Image Awards got off to an entertaining start with a phalanx of stars such as Judge Greg Mathis, Dennis Haysbert,Tatyana Ali and Tika Sumpter walking the red carpet. Actor Anthony Anderson hosted the event and made an effort to connect with the audience.

Oprah Winfrey delivered a tribute to late South African President Nelson Mandela.

Oprah Winfrey delivered a stirring tribute to late South African President Nelson Mandela.

Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder honored the late international icon and South African President Nelson Mandela. “Nelson Mandela was a true hero. His spirit was never broken. His life was an example to us all,” Winfrey said, describing being in his presence as “sitting with the face of grace and majesty.” Stevie Wonder performed a medley of his hit songs including “Higher Ground” and “Always.”

Stevie Wonder performed a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Stevie Wonder walked the red carpet and later performed a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Paris Barclay and Cheryl Boone Isaacs were inducted into the Image Awards Hall of fame for achieving significant firsts: Barclay is the first African American President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) while Boone Isaacs is the first African American President of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs was inducted into the NAACP Image Hall of Fame.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs was inducted into the NAACP Image Hall of Fame for achieving a first.

Paris Barclay

Paris Barclay was inducted into the NAACP image Awards Hall of fame for achieving a first.

Among the winners at the venerable awards show was Oscar Award winner/director/producer Forest Whitaker, who won both the NAACP Chairman’s Award and the Best Actor award for his riveting performance in “Lee Daniels’:The Butler” which was snubbed by the other awards shows. The ever classy Whitaker acknowledged his fellow actors and said a humble “Thank you,” in accepting his award. Whitaker also starred in “Black Nativity” and produced “Fruitvale Station,” both of which were recognized during the event.

Kerry Washington won for Scandal while Lupital N'Yong'o won for "12 Years a Slave."

Kerry Washington won for Scandal while Lupital Nyong’o won for “12 Years a Slave.”

In recognition of the diverse and compelling roles that performers brought to life on the big screen, the NAACP also honored the following: “12 Years a Slave,” Outstanding Picture; Outstanding Actress, Angela Bassett for “Black Nativity”;  Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress for her remarkable role in “12 Years a Slave.,” David Oyelowo was named Best Supporting Actor in “Lee Daniels’: The Butler;” while the riveting “Fruitvale Station” was finally recognized with a Best Independent Film award.

Kevin Hart was named Entertainer of the Year.

Kevin Hart was named Entertainer of the Year and  thanked his late mother for inspiring him.

Kevin Hart was named Entertainer of the Year, cementing his status as a star who is serious about his craft and utilizing expert marketing strategies to broaden his fan base. Hart also won two awards for television as Outstanding Actor in a comedy series and for the series itself in “Real Husbands of Hollywood.”  A solemn and visibly moved Hart walked to the stage, paused, then said: “First of all I gotta thank God,” as he accepted the final award of the night. He thanked his late mother and said: “I’m a mama’s boy but my mother passed away and is not here to share it with me but I know she’s smiling down on me right now.”

Idris Elba finally gets love, walking off with a Best Actor Award for the television show "Luther."

Idris Elba finally gets some  love, walking off with a Best Actor Award for the television show “Luther.”

The television categories were nuanced and broad. Morris Chestnut won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for “Nurse Jackie,” while Brandy Norwood won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “The Game.” The dominant series “Scandal” was named Outstanding Drama Series with Kerry Washington winning for Outstanding  Actress in a Drama Series and her father on the show, Joe Morton, winning Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Accepting her award, Washington, who is due to give birth soon, thanked her “Gladiators” as the audience cheered.

Michael B. Jordan's film, "Fruitvale Station," was named Best Independent Film.

Michael B. Jordan’s poignant movie, “Fruitvale Station,” was named Best Independent Film.

L.L. Cool J won Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Taraji P. Henson won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for “Person of Interest” while Wendy Raquel Robinson won Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. Idris Elba did not go home empty-handed, winning Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special for “Luther,” while Gabrielle Union won the female equivalent. Kristoff St. John and Tatyana Ali, won Best Actor and Actress, respectively, in a Daytime Drama Series, for their performances on “The Young and the Restless”

Dr. Heny Louis Gates, Jr. won for Outstanding News/Information (Series of Special) for “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Steve Harvey’s syndicated show won for Outstanding Talk Series, while “Iyanla Fix My Life” won for Outstanding Reality Series. “Black Girls Rock” won for Outstanding Variety Series or Special, “Wynton Marsalis: A YoungArts  MasterClass” won for Outstanding Children’s Program while China Anne McClain won Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children’s Program for “A.N.T Farm.”

Both John Legend and Robin Thicke won in the music category.

Both John Legend and Robin Thicke won in the music category.

Music was a mixed bag with K. Michele named Outstanding New Artist, John Legend named Outstanding Male Artist and Beyoncé named Outstanding Female Artist. Robin Thicke’s controversial “Blurred Lines,” featuring T.I and Pharrell, won for Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration. “The Songs of Stevie Wonder-SF Jazz Collective” was named Outstanding Jazz Album, Tamela Mann’s “Best Days Deluxe Edition” was named Outstanding Gospel Album, “Natalie Cole en Espanol” won Outstanding World Music Album, “Q.U.E.E.N” by Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu won for Outstanding Music Video, John Legend’s “All of Me” was named Outstanding Song and “Love Charlie” by Charlie Wilson won Outstanding Album.

Janele Monae was a winner at the NAACP Image Awards.

Janelle Monae was a winner at the NAACP Image Awards.

Pamela Samuels’ “Anybody’s Daughter won Outstanding Fiction; Envisioning Emancipation: Black Anericans and the End of Slavery” by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer won Outstanding Non-Fiction; Sheri Booker was named Outstanding New Author for “Nine Years Under;” “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks” by Jeanne Theoharis was named Outstanding Biography/Autobiography; “The Vegucation of Robin: How Real Food Saved My Life” by Robin Quivers won for Outstanding Instructional,;Frank X. walker’s “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers won for Poetry; Kadir Nelson’s “Nelson Mandela” won for Outstanding Children’s Book while Tanya Lee Stone’s “Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: American’s Frist Black Paratroopers” won for Outstanding Youth/Teens.

Morris Chestnut won an award for his role in "Nurse Jackie."

Morris Chestnut won an award for his role in “Nurse Jackie.”

The NAACP Image Awards reinforce the importance of African-Americans taking the lead in celebrating their entertainers instead of leaving it up to others who will probably never truly see the vast range, texture and power embodied in African-American talent.-OnPointPress.net.

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‘Ride Along’ is historic MLK weekend box office winner

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in Ride Along.

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in  scene from blockbuster ‘Ride Along’ which broke MLK weekend and January records at the box office by combining a funny script with great promotion.

By Carmen Glover

Boasting a humorous yet relatable storyline, the Will Packer-produced and Tim Story directed detective caper ‘Ride Along’ trounced its competition in historic fashion over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, with box office receipts of $48.1 million.

‘Ride Along’ created history at the box office by earning the highest totals recorded not only over any MLK weekend but also for the month of January. The movie outperformed ‘Cloverfield,’ which earned 46.1 million during the 2008 MLK weekend. ‘Ride Along’ stars Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Laurence Fishbourne and Tika Sumpter, featuring a cameo appearance from comedian Gary Owen and a supporting role for John Leguizamo. The movie enjoyed robust box office showing which was aided by a funny script and cast combined with excellent marketing as well as solid word-of-mouth.

Tika Sumpter plays Kevin Hart's love interest and Ice Cube's sister in "Ride Along."

Tika Sumpter plays Kevin Hart’s love interest and Ice Cube’s sister in ‘Ride Along.’

According to box office totals by The Hollywood Reporter, ‘Ride Along’ earned $48.1 million by Monday afternoon, delivering the best numbers recorded over any MLK weekend. ‘Ride Along’ beat the mainstream action film ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,’ an equally enjoyable movie starring Kevin Costner and the gorgeous Chris Pine, in the latest installment of the Jack Ryan thriller. In the past, Jack Ryan was played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ earned 18 million over the four-day weekend.

William Packer produced Ride Along

William Packer, who produced ‘Ride Along,’ also had box office success with ‘Think Like a Man,’ ‘Takers,’ ‘Obsessed,’ ‘This Christmas’ and ‘Stomp the Yard.’

Listings by Box Office Mojo show that the top grossing MLK weekend movies featuring African-American casts from 1991 to present are: ‘Book of Eli,’ starring Denzel Washington ($38,234 million); ‘Coach Carter,’ starring Samuel Jackson ($29,168 million); ‘Stomp the Yard,’ starring Columbus Short ($25, 876 million); ‘Snow Dogs,’ starring Cuba Gooding Jr. ($23, 708 million) and ‘Notorious’ starring Angela Bassett ($23,393 million).

Tim Story directed Ride Along.

Tim Story, who directed ‘Ride Along,’ also directed ‘Barbershop,’  two ‘Fantastic Four’ movies, ‘Think Like a Man,’ and its upcoming sequel, ‘Think Like a Man Too.’

‘Ride Along’ tells the story of a security guard, played by Hart, who wants to join the police academy and marry Sumpter, who plays Cube’s sister. Cube, a no-nonsense police officer, who has no use for Hart, invites Hart to spend a day with him to test his mettle. Hart is desperate for Cube’s approval to marry his sister as well as his support in Hart’s hopes to join the academy. What follows is a series of comedy mixed with action that makes the time pass by quickly as the story unfolds.

The four-day MLK weekend provided a great opportunity for ‘Ride Along’ to perform strongly at the box office, with many people having the holiday off and being eager and available to mix up service activities with the lighthearted relief the movie delivered. The move was made with a budget of $25 million and had an audience support of 50 percent African-Americans, 30 percent Hispanics, 12 percent Caucasians, with the under 25 age group making up 46 percent of the film’s moviegoers. (Final movie totals will be released on Tuesday.).–OnPointPress.net.

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Four exciting movies open on MLK weekend

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in "Ride Along."

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in “Ride Along.”

By Carmen Glover

As families spend time volunteering this weekend in honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s Holiday, four movies, featuring African-Americans, will open in theaters, offering a variety of ways to relax  “Ride Along” starring versatile actor/rapper Ice Cube and comedian Kevin Hart has generated the most buzz because it has been brilliantly marketed across multiple platforms. Having Tika Sumpter, the villainess from Tyler Perry’s television drama, “The Haves and the Have Nots” as the only female in the movie, does not hurt either.

Cuba Gooding Jr., Dennis Haysbert and LisaGay Hamilton star in the chess-themed movie "Life of a King."

Cuba Gooding Jr., Dennis Haysbert and LisaGay Hamilton star in the chess-themed movie “Life of a King.”

But don’t allow the hype of the much-promoted “Ride Along” obscure the fact that Dennis Haysbert, after a long hiatus from films, will head back to the big screen this weekend in the incredibly smart, fun and educational film “Life of a King” which tells the true story of an ex-criminal from Washington D.C, who sponsors a competitive chess club, driven by the desire to illustrate how applicable the game is to everyday life. The film co-stars Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and LisaGay Hamilton.

Samuel L. Jackson starts in the legal thriller "Reasonable Doubt."

Samuel L. Jackson starts in the legal thriller “Reasonable Doubt.”

Also returning to the big screen after a long time away is Ving Rhames, who co-stars with Mary Louise Parker and Spencer Lofranco in “Jamesy Boy,” which tells the story of redemption experienced by a misguided youth who ends up in prison. Veteran all-around acting ace Samuel Jackson appears in “Reasonable Doubt,” about a crafty District Attorney who allows another person to accept responsibility for the crime that the DA committed, with disastrous results.

Ving Rhames returns to the big screen in "Jamesy Boy."

Ving Rhames returns to the big screen in “Jamesy Boy,” which co-stars James Woods and Mary Louise Parker.

So try to weave in some movie time this weekend, to go along with the day of service and volunteerism. The films offer too much fun to pass up. -OnPointPress.net.

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