By Lynn Venhaus
Technically brilliant but weak in coherent storytelling, “Nope” is an amalgam of tones and textures that convey horror and the strangest things.

In only his third film, director Jordan Peele, Oscar-winning writer of “Get Out,” follows up “Us” from 2019 with equal parts originality, pastiche, and satire. It’s clever, spooky, funny, and gruesome.

Two siblings, OJ and Emerald Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer), are taking care of their family’s horse ranch in inland California. Their father, Pops (Keith David), built up the horse business to provide animals for Hollywood productions and became a legend. They are barely staying afloat now, though. The horses get spooked and the pair witness unexplained phenomenon that gets increasingly hostile. But fascinating – and if they can prove alien life, a financial life raft.

Kaluuya, so good in Peele’s cultural phenomenon “Get Out” and Oscar winner as Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” is the laid-back horse trainer, OJ (wink-wink), who worked with his dad Otis Sr., on the dusty remote spread. His bubbly, scattered sister Emerald – Palmer in a live-wire role — does not complete tasks or take responsibility, so OJ is left being the heavy lifter.

But when weird things start happening, will they be able to successfully team up and rise to the occasion to defeat something they don’t understand?

Meanwhile, at a nearby Old West Town amusement-theme operation, former child star Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun) tries to overcome a traumatic childhood incident and entertain the masses, using the sci-fi spectacle to his advantage. At least, that is his plan.

The characters are intriguing and mysterious, but the Haywood kids’ personalities, being opposites, don’t lend themselves to building emotional connections when that would have immensely benefitted the movie.

It is clever how the siblings figure out what works and what doesn’t. With the help of a techie at a big-box store, Angel Torres, well-played by Brandon Perea, and an old-school cinematographer drawn to the mysterious goings-on – Michael Wincott, who maintains a sage but wary vibe.

Steven Yeun as a former child star

Yeun, showing yet another facet after his Oscar nomination for “Minari,” evokes sympathy, pity and at times is a pathetic, sad figure, as the former scarred-for-life child star clinging to a lower ring of showbiz as a vaudevillian showman.

Now that’s one you want to know more about – even if those two flashback scenes to the set of his sitcom are quite disturbing.

Because it’s hard to get invested in the Haywood and Park journeys when you are confused about what is happening. Peele, at times, instead of surprising us, dulls the impact by keeping us at arm’s length.

Not that there aren’t a couple jump scares, some well-placed funny lines, and escalating tension every time the power goes out or the UFO vessel swoops down on its prey. The voyager in the sky is less revealing than Ed Wood’s “Plan Nine from Outer Space” or “Unsolved Mysteries,” and that ‘less is more’ effort is frustrating.

What lessens Peele’s impact is that he struggles with pacing – from a slow-burn beginning establishing who’s who to a draggy third act. With a runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes, at least 20 minutes could have easily been shaved off.

This is an example where the anticipation is greater than the supernatural alien payoff, similarly unfulfilling like in Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” (2016) and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” in 2002. The gold standard in space paranormal visits remains Steven Spielberg’s 1977 “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” but “Nope” tackles other issues that aren’t in the ‘aliens arrive’ lane — black representation in Hollywood, entertainment spectacles, American identity and more. Some of the themes he’s using are clear, while others are opaque.

The writing, in a rather minimal slideshow way, lacks plot details that would help connect the dots and thread the needle, preferring to be stingy with any information that can illuminate or help explain the strange goings-on. Even though there are some truly creepy segments, Peele seems to strive for confusion instead of understanding.

Daniel Kaluuya as OJ Haywood

Hoyte van Hoytema, Oscar-nominated for “Dunkirk” and Christopher Nolan’s go-to cinematographer, has captured the grandeur of this gulch in Santa Clarita Valley, with its mountains and foothills, its dusty vastness, as well as its ominous clouds and eerie remoteness. It’s both breathtaking in scope and spine-chilling in growing the unease.

Rebecca De Jong’s production design is a marvel of kitschy western theme park with glitzy faux fun touches, the fringes of old-fashioned entertainment from a bygone era, and Mother Nature’s ability to surprise and raise goosebumps at the same time.

Composer Michael Abels, who has scored Peele’s previous films, builds both the weirdness and the growing menacing tone in his musical selections. And as with any eclectic soundtrack melding pop culture periods, is pitch-perfect in his selections of Dionne Warwick, Corey Hart and others.

 “Nope” is unlike Peele’s previous two films and allows him to stretch into interesting genre work – but had the focus been tighter, we’d be looking at a masterpiece, instead of a flawed film that I wanted to like so much more. If we could have invested more in the characters, that would have enriched the storytelling exponentially.

It really does have some marvelous moments – but at the same time, many head-scratching ones too.

A TMZ intruder

“Nope” is a 2022 horror-sci-fi-mystery thriller directed by Jordan Peele and starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, and Keith David. Rated R for language throughout and some violence/bloody images, its runtime is 2 hours and 15 minutes. In theaters beginning July 22. Lynn’s Grade: B-

By Lynn Venhaus

Three actors deliver brilliantly nuanced performances in “Blue/Orange,” a multi-layered satirical comedy-drama that focuses on madness, health care and race within a framework of frustrating bureaucracy and power struggles.

William Humphrey, Ben Ritchie, and Jason Meyers turn in some of their best work by grasping every shifting thought, trigger and changing attitude in conversations that blur lines on mental health.

The discourse is hefty and the roles demanding, for the characters are opaque. Allegiances switch as reasoning seems plausible – but one can’t ever be certain in these fiery exchanges.

Stray Dog Theatre is presenting this intellectually stimulating material as its first indoor show inside the Tower Grove Abbey, their longtime home, in 2021. With a contemporary focus that is more tragic than comic, that tone suits the production’s interpretation of this thorny material.

Shrewdly written by British playwright Joe Penhall, known primarily for several “fringe” works, and set in a UK institution, the play, first staged by the National Theatre in 2000, went on to win the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, with Bill Nighy, as Robert, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Christopher, nominated for several acting awards.

(More fun facts: Andrew Lincoln played Bruce and the three moved on to the London West End in 2001. The next year, the show opened off-Broadway, with Harold Perrineau Jr. as Christopher, and an acclaimed British revival in 2016 starred Daniel Kaluuya as the patient.)

Stray Dog has wisely decided to forego British accents, so that we are not distracted from the dense amount of dialogue that rapidly volleys back and forth.

The day before Christopher (William Humphrey) is supposed to be discharged from a psychiatric ward, his doctor (Jason Meyers) begins to have reservations that he shouldn’t be released. He shares his concerns with a senior colleague (Ben Ritchie).

Practically jumping for joy as the hyper Christopher, Humphrey is gleefully ready to go – and already packed. He still insists his father is former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada Oumee and sees the pulp inside an orange as blue. In his mind, is this real or delusional? Thus begins a bureaucratic battle.

As the now confused patient becomes increasingly agitated, is he having an acute psychotic episode or is he being unduly provoked? What must happen to prevent him from leaving?

Christopher was diagnosed with a borderline personality order, and on day 28 at the London National Health Service mental hospital, he is due for release – unless a diagnosis changes.

As Dr. Bruce Flaherty, Meyers sees red flags and makes a convincing case that Christopher could be a paranoid schizophrenic. His superior, Dr. Robert Smith, doesn’t detect it. Exuding authority and clinical acumen. Ritchie recites reasons why psychiatry can fail black men like Christopher. After all, Dr. Smith is writing a book – interesting! – on the cultural and ethnocentrism factors that come into play in these situations.

Perhaps drum beating and seeing himself as a “white savior,” the imperious Robert thinks Christopher should return to his neighborhood for the cultural support – even though he lives alone and doesn’t know that many people. Sure, his behavior is odd, but is it cause for alarm?

Smith is worried that if Christopher stays longer, he could get worse and thus begin a never-ending cycle — or is that more of a reflection on the lack of beds and prevalent bottom-line thinking?

Christopher would really like to return to Africa, where he says he has a job, but will settle for his diverse London borough neighborhood if it means his freedom. And there is a probable threat of being attacked by racist thugs, so his fear seems real, but is it indicative of instability – and is pompous Robert being patronizing?

England’s cultural population includes Caribbean and African expatriates, and there are statistics that more black people, percentage wise, are in mental and penal institutions.

And what exactly causes seemingly stable Bruce’s third-act meltdown – and earlier blurting out the “N” word, which could fill an entire act with discussion. This really complicates the narrative, not just exposing an ugly prejudice and stereotypical thinking.

However, the roots of the problems are in the eye of the beholder. As the two professionals argue, drawing Christopher, pawn-like, into a tug of war of damaging rhetoric – clearly emotional scars are being inflicted.

Is this in any way beneficial and do the doctors think this will advance their careers?  

Penhall’s incendiary words, written more than two decades ago, seems as urgent now as they were relevant then. This is a living, breathing work that changes direction throughout its two acts, and the verbal dexterity required is admirable.

In a bracing portrayal, Humphrey straddles the line of helpless vulnerability and angry advocate for getting his life back on track. Both instinctive, Ritchie and Meyers convincingly earn and lose their characters’ credibility.

Associate Artistic Director Justin Been deftly moves the actors around so that we are caught off-guard as characters reveal their positions, transferring the ‘edge’ around – and the performers never get ahead of the script, not tipping their hand about what’s next.

The cast has smartly constructed their roles. It’s an exemplary showcase of control, and lack of, as perceptions differ and speeches flow.

“Blue/Orange” could have easily turned preachy but keeps its intensity, although the second act gets weighed down somewhat with repetitive opinions. And while it’s not predictable, the ending may not satisfy those who have become invested in Christopher’s well-being.

Besides directing, Been also designed the claustrophobic set and the sound, and both he and Artistic Director Gary F. Bell gathered the props. Lighting designer Tyler Duenow maintained the setting’s institutional glare.

The hell that is the ever-present boondoggle for those suffering from mental illness shows no sign of improvement in today’s uncertain world. As this riveting production demonstrates, it’s a difficult subject to ponder, and “Blue/Orange” daringly takes a stand.

Jason Meyers, William Humphrey and Ben Ritchie in “Blue/Orange.” Photo by John Lamb.

“Blue/Orange” is presented Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 7-9, 14-16 and 21-23 at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue, St. Louis, 63104.

Limited tickets are available because of physical distancing throughout the theater. For more information or tickets, visit www.straydogtheatre.org, or call 314-865-1995.

Safety precautions because of the COVID-19 public health crisis are in place for guests, actors, and staff. Masks are required to be worn by all guests, regardless of vaccination status. Stray Dog Theatre recommends, but does not require, that all guests be vaccinated. The up-to-date guidelines can be found on their website.

The Critics Choice Association (CCA) announced the winners of the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards LIVE on The CW during an in-person/virtual hybrid ceremony hosted for the third time by acclaimed film, television, and stage star Taye Diggs on Sunday, March 4.  The full list of winners can be found below. 

“Nomadland” led the winners in the film categories, taking home four awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chloé Zhao, and Best Cinematography for Joshua James Richards.  Zhao is the first Chinese woman to win as either director or writer. 

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” followed closely behind, winning three categories including Best Actor for the late Chadwick Boseman, Best Costume Design, and Best Hair and Makeup.  Best Actress was awarded to Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman,” which also earned a Best Original Screenplay win for Emerald Fennell.  Best Supporting Actor went to Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and Best Supporting Actress to Maria Bakalova for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”   

In the series categories, “The Crown” took four categories, the most of the night, winning Best Drama Series, Best Actor in a Drama Series for Josh O’Connor, Best Actress in a Drama Series for Emma Corrin, and Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Gillian Anderson.  In the comedy genre, “Ted Lasso” won all three categories for which it was nominated: Best Comedy Series, Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Jason Sudeikis, and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Hannah Waddingham.  “The Queen’s Gambit” took the prize for Best Limited Series, and its leading lady Anya Taylor-Joy won Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television. 

The race for “Best Comedy Special,” which was dominated entirely by Netflix nominees, resulted in a tie between “Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill” and “Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia.” 

As was previously announced, John David Washington presented this year’s SeeHer Award to his “Malcolm & Marie” co-star, Zendaya.  The SeeHer Award recognizes a woman who embodies the values set forth by the SeeHer movement, to push boundaries, defy stereotypes and acknowledge the importance of authentic portrayals of women across the entertainment landscape. 

After leading the nominations, Netflix also won the most awards of any studio/network with a total of 14.  Amazon Studios and Searchlight Pictures each won four. 

Critics Choice Awards are bestowed annually to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement.  Historically, they are the most accurate predictor of Academy Award nominations. 

The 26th annual Critics Choice Awards show was produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment.  The CCA is represented by Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig. 

Follow the 26th annual Critics Choice Awards on Twitter and Instagram @CriticsChoice and on Facebook/CriticsChoiceAwards.  Join the conversation using #CriticsChoice and #CriticsChoiceAwards. 

FILM CATEGORIES 

BEST PICTURE 

Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) 

BEST ACTOR 

Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) 

BEST ACTRESS 

Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman (Focus Features) 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.) 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon Studios) 

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS 

Alan Kim – Minari (A24) 

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE 

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) 

BEST DIRECTOR 

Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (Focus Features) 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY 

Joshua James Richards – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures) 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN 

Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale – Mank (Netflix) 

BEST EDITING – TIE  

Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix) 

Mikkel E. G. Nielsen – Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios) 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN 

Ann Roth – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) 

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix) 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS 

Tenet (Warner Bros.) 

BEST COMEDY 

Palm Springs (Hulu and NEON) 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM 

Minari (A24) 

BEST SONG  

Speak Now – One Night in Miami (Amazon Studios) 

BEST SCORE 

Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste – Soul (Disney) 

SERIES CATEGORIES 

BEST DRAMA SERIES 

The Crown (Netflix) 

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES 

Josh O’Connor – The Crown (Netflix) 

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES 

Emma Corrin – The Crown (Netflix) 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES 

Michael K. Williams – Lovecraft Country (HBO)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES 

Gillian Anderson – The Crown (Netflix) 

BEST COMEDY SERIES 

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) 

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES 

Jason Sudeikis – Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) 

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES 

Catherine O’Hara – Schitt’s Creek (Pop) 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES  

Daniel Levy – Schitt’s Creek (Pop) 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES 

Hannah Waddingham – Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) 

BEST LIMITED SERIES 

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) 

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION 

Hamilton (Disney+) 

BEST ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION 

John Boyega – Small Axe (Amazon Studios) 

BEST ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION 

Anya Taylor-Joy – The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION 

Donald Sutherland – The Undoing (HBO) 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION   

Uzo Aduba – Mrs. America (FX) 

BEST TALK SHOW 

Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC) 

BEST COMEDY SPECIAL – TIE  

Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill (Netflix) 

Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia (Netflix) 

BEST SHORT FORM SERIES 

Better Call Saul: Ethics Training with Kim Wexler (AMC/Youtube) 

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA)  

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 400 television, radio and online critics and entertainment reporters. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the blurring of the distinctions between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.  

By Alex McPherson
Director Shaka King’s new film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” is a visceral exploration of resistance, sacrifice, betrayal, and legacy.

The film takes place in late 1960s Chicago, where tensions are high between the Illinois Black Panther party and law enforcement. Amid the aftermath of recent political assassinations, Panther Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) is growing increasingly influential. Hampton, only 21 years old, is a passionate leader who seeks to advance the self-determination of black people to rebel against injustice, calling for cultural revolution. He establishes programs providing food, education, and medical care to local communities. He also unites disparate groups across Chicago under shared fury at the powers that be, including an all-white group called the Young Patriots.

Despite all that Hampton does for the community, however, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, monstrously played by Martin Sheen, sees Hampton’s growing impact as a threat and formulates a plot to eliminate him by any means necessary. FBI agent Roy Mitchell, played with surprising nuance by Jesse Plemons, recruits a youthful, petty criminal named William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and become an informant, in exchange for his freedom from jail time. As O’Neal starts ascending through the ranks — eventually becoming Hampton’s security chief — he starts to question what he’s doing and whose side he’s really on.

The following events are often enraging and sobering. Indeed, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is a deeply moving film, depicting its subjects with depth while spotlighting historical events that remain scarily relevant today.

Through focusing on a condensed period of time, King’s film isn’t a mere biopic of Hampton or O’Neal. Rather, viewers are thrown into a warzone twisted by prejudice and misinformation. This was a volatile period in Chicago’s history, as well as a formative time for several of the film’s subjects. As Hampton’s political prowess grows, so do the malevolent machinations operating behind the scenes. Through the film’s crisp cinematography, expressive score, and harrowing scenarios, we can practically taste the danger in the air. The suspense is palpable, both of cultural change and of violence looming on the horizon.

It’s a bold decision to frame the proceedings through O’Neal’s perspective. Though his actions are often reprehensible, “Judas and the Black Messiah” paints him in an empathetic fashion, where we can see his inner turmoil. Trapped in a precarious situation, both the manipulator and the manipulated, O’Neal is an intriguing enigma throughout the film. “Judas and the Black Messiah” contains several nail-biting scenes where O’Neal escapes by the skin of his teeth — slyly grinning to himself when the coast is clear, but also realizing the constant danger he’s in, and his own growing attachment to the Panther cause. 

Stanfield’s performance is downright incredible, capturing O’Neal’s selfishness and slippery nature, but also his discomfort and mental conflict as the film progresses. Although some viewers may take issue with his lack of clear-cut motivation, King and co-writer Will Berson refuse to simplify him for entertainment purposes. O’Neal is a flawed individual, who we may never truly understand. In the film, he comes across as a tragic figure, battling for a sense of self amid delusion, propaganda, and frontline interaction with the Panthers themselves.

This lends the proceedings an uncomfortable tone, as we simultaneously care about O’Neal, but also reel from the actions he takes to undermine the Panthers’ cause. Although I appreciate his complex portrayal, “Judas and the Black Messiah” misses an opportunity to elaborate on his attachment, or lack thereof, to the Panthers. The film rushes through his time spent in the Party early on, and the film’s emotional core could have been strengthened by showing more of his interactions with Hampton in particular. 

Hampton isn’t portrayed quite as three-dimensionally as O’Neal, but the film effectively establishes his skills as an orator and as someone who truly cares about the people he’s serving. Kaluyya gives a powerful, soaring performance, where Hampton’s bravery as a leader is on full display. His girlfriend, Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback), helps him mature over the course of the film, as he reckons with the weight of his responsibilities for his personal life and the legacy he leaves behind. 

We also get several quieter scenes of Hampton reflecting on his life, helping to ground his character in relatable, personable emotions beneath his in-your-face persona. He reckons with how he’s perceived by the FBI, along with the consequences his passionate rhetoric has on his followers. While I wish the film had provided more of these intimate moments, “Judas and the Black Messiah” showcases the tragedy of a groundbreaking life of activism cut short by forces emboldened by racism and lust for power.

Despite the film’s missed potential in exploring the relationship between Hampton and O’Neal, “Judas and the Black Messiah” remains a must-watch cinematic experience — spotlighting a heroic figure, while encouraging viewers to fight for a more equitable world for future generations.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is a dramatic biopic directed and co-written by Shaka King, starring LaKeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Lil Rel Howery, and Martin Sheen. It runs 2 hours 6 minutes. Alex’s Rating: A- Now playing in theaters and on HBOMax Feb. 12

 The Critics Choice Association has announced the additional honorees and presenters that will join, virtually, the third annual Celebration of Black Cinema on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.  The ceremony will be hosted by author and media personality Bevy Smith

Following its invitation-only digital premiere, the event will be shared with the public on KTLA and offered to all Nexstar Media Group television stations.  KTLA will air the 90-minute Celebration of Black Cinema special in Los Angeles on Saturday night, February 6th.   

Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) will receive the Performance of the Year Award for his magnetic and heartbreaking portrayal of Levee, an ambitious musician struggling to earn the recognition he deserves in a world, and a recording studio, built against him.  

A special donation in Chadwick Boseman’s name will be designated to provide scholarships to students participating in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Gold Program.  The Academy Gold Program is an industry talent development, diversity and inclusion initiative to provide individuals, with a focus on underrepresented communities, access and resources to achieve their career pathways in filmmaking.   

Zendaya & John David Washington (Malcolm & Marie) will receive the NextGen Award for their work on the highly anticipated Malcolm & Marie, which was filmed safely amid the pandemic and became one of the most sought-after projects of the season.  Washington and Zendaya portray a filmmaker and his girlfriend returning home from his movie premiere and awaiting the critical response. 

Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah) will receive the Director Award for his visionary telling of the story of American civil rights leader Chairman Fred Hampton, iconic leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party who was ultimately killed in 1969. 

Tommie Smith (With Drawn Arms) will receive the Social Justice Award.  An iconic athlete and activist, in With Drawn Arms, Smith reflects on his iconic fist-thrust silent protest on the medal stand during the nation anthem at the 1968 Summer Olympics, a moment that helped define the civil rights movement. 

The Celebration of Black Cinema honorees will be fêted by a prestigious group of presenters who will celebrate their work and their ongoing commitment to telling Black stories on film, including Nnamdi Asomugha, Lee Daniels, Michael Ealy, Dominique Fishback, Taraji P. Henson, Daniel Kaluuya, Jonathan Majors, Kemp Powers, Aaron Sorkin, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Williams, and George C. Wolfe

As previously announced, the event will recognize Delroy Lindo (Career Achievement Award), John Legend & Mike Jackson (the Producers Award), Tessa Thompson (the Actor Award), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (the Breakthrough Award), Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli GoreeAldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom, Jr. (the Ensemble Award),and Andra Day (Special Honoree Award). 

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA) 

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 400 television, radio and online critics and entertainment reporters. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the blurring of the distinctions between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com