February is “Black History Month,” and people have asked me to put together a list of movie suggestions to commemorate the annual observance. So, here are some films that are, I believe, apt viewing choices.
“12 Years a Slave” won the Best Picture Oscar for 2013. Inspired by a true story, it tells the harrowing tale of a free man, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was captured and sent into slavery on a Louisiana plantation in the 1800s. It’s hard to watch, but packs an emotional wallop.
David Oyelowo gives a stirring performance as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 2015 film, “Selma,” about the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery that was met with a violent crackdown by local authorities. The event helped cement passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The 2013 film “The Butler” provides a historical overview of social change seen through the eyes of a butler named Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, who served in the White House beginning with the Eisenhower administration and lasting through the Reagan years. It’s restrained but dignified.
Sidney Poitier’s Oscar-winning performance propels the sentimental1963 comic drama, “Lilies of the Field.” Poitier plays a laborer who helps out some immigrant German nuns who are trying to establish a small chapel for their rural Arizona community. In this story, the leading character’s race was irrelevant, making “Lilies of the Field” all the more unique for its time.
New in theaters this week, “Winchester” is a horror thriller starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke that was reportedly inspired by true events. “Vazante” is a Portuguese language period drama dealing with slavery in 1820s Brazil. “Victor Crowley” is the third entry in the “Hatchet” slasher film series. Kane Hodder returns as the titular, supernatural serial killer.