We're officially halfway through 2019, and while plenty of great movies are still scheduled to premiere--like Disney's Lion King or the highly anticipated Luce--the year has delivered an array of great, black-led movies. Many of which can be an instant fave for any movie-goer. From superhero stories and teen thrillers to movies about basketball players and eye-opening documentaries, films this year have shown that not only are they capable of having captivating black leads, but they are capable of telling some groundbreaking stories, too.
What's also groundbreaking is the fact that rather than in your local theater, most of these films can be found on streaming platforms in the comfort of your own home. And while all of them might not be your cup of tea, the top black led-movies of 2019 so far all have one thing in common: they're pioneering, original, and worth every second of your time.
Here are the top nine black-led movies of 2019, where you can find them, and reasons why you should.
See You Yesterday, Netflix
Tribeca Film Institute
What can be said about See You Yesterday that already hasn't been said? The movie's cinematography is enough to entice you, but the story is more than enough to make you stay. Following sixteen-year-old Claudette "CJ" Walker, the story of See You Yesterday tells of two science prodigies who travel back in time to save CJ's older brother from dying at the hands of police. Along the way CJ and friends encounter problem after problem, discovering the truth of the police brutality that we are all afraid to say. Despite teaching our black brothers and sisters what to do and what not to do at the hands of cops, it isn't them who really need to change. It's society itself. And until that happens, we will all be seeing each other, in some way or form, continuously living the problems of yesterday. With outstanding performances by Stro, Eden Duncan-Smith, and Dante Crichlow, this movie is certainly a must watch for 2019.
High Flying Bird, Netflix
Three years ago, EuropaCorp released a film titled Miss Sloane about a lobbyist who has been called to appear at a congressional hearing, to answer questions about possible violations of Senate ethic rules. The movie was written to have sharp dialogue, even sharper characters, and it was meant to tell a story of a world unfamiliar to us. But when it premiered, it fell flat. The characters weren't real. The dialogue and characters were so sharp that it completely severed the audience from the story; and although the political world of lobbyist was unfamiliar, we couldn't care less about it or the people in it. High Flying Bird is really similar to Miss Sloane. The only difference: High Flying Bird gets it right.
Following sports agent Ray Burke, High Flying Bird takes us into the world of the NBA during the lock-down. It tells about the importance of an NBA player's talent, their charisma, their public image, and how difficult it can be to manage the three harmoniously. The characters are razor sharp, revealing the concerns that define the modern athlete while also remaining wickedly entertaining at the same time. The dialogue welcomes you into the world but doesn't seclude you. And the story gets more and more interesting as the minutes add up to the final one. With appearances from actual NBA players and top-notch performances from their all-star cast, High Flying Bird, shows that there are innumerable ways to be witty, innovative, and entertaining. Plus, the whole damn film was shot entirely on an iPhone 8. What could be better than that?
Us, Amazon and YouTube
Industrial Light & Magic/Universal Pictures
Anytime someone establishes an "us" there is a "them." And the "them" in this movie…well, they're "us," and that's truly something to be terrified of. Starring Black Panther and Yale alums, Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke, the story of Us follows Adelaide Wilson (Nyong'o), who returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Nevertheless, things spiral quickly—as they always do—when the family returns home and are acquainted with their very violent, very malicious doppelgängers. With Jeremiah's bible scripture, "Therefore this is what the Lord says: 'I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them," continuously rearing its ugly head, Peele tells a petrifying story of one of the biggest problems we face as a society: ourselves. And it's hard to escape a problem when we are unwilling to faithfully and diligently look in the mirror.
The Black Godfather, Netflix
Netflix's The Black Godfather accounts the exceptional and unlikely rise of Clarence Avant, a music executive whose cutting-edge behind-the-scenes accomplishments impacted the legacies of icons such as Bill Withers, Quincy Jones, Muhammad Ali, and Hank Aaron.
Driven by a sense of equality, loyalty, and justice, Avant left the Jim Crow south behind to emerge as a powerhouse negotiator at a time when deep-seated racism penetrated every corner of America. Avant defied notions of what a black executive could do, redefining the industry for entertainers and executives of color, and leaving a legacy of altruism for others to emulate.
Black Mother, Netflix
New York photographer Khalik Allah's Black Mother is littered with lyricism, spirituality, culture and history in this "vivid pictorial and philosophical journal" dedicated to Jamaica and its tough yet burdened women. Black Mother is a fresh piece of work in both how it progresses from shocking and gentle to chaotic and serene extremes, and how it's assembled like a scrapbook of remembrances.
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé, Netflix
Parkwood Entertainment/Parkwood Entertainment
I have no words.
I have absolutely no words.
The title alone should entice you enough to watch the documentary. However, if you're one of those people who need a little more before you select "play," here it goes: It's Beyoncé, doing Beyoncé, the only way Beyoncé can—pretty damn well.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Netflix
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind tells the true story of William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian genius who built a windmill to save his family and village from drought and famine. Written and directed by Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, the story of William Kamkwamba is an unforgettable child prodigy film that is much-needed for black children in 2019. The film is charming and ambitious and there's something disconcerting about rooting for a character to invent something that should have been easy to access in the first place—but Kamkwamba has will have your unshakable support the entire time.
Guava Island, Amazon
Filmed secretly in Cuba and released with little fanfare on Amazon, Guava Island is a musical-romance-thriller from the team behind FX's Atlanta, director Hiro Murai and Donald Glover. Cast as the man of the people, Glover plays Deni—a musician on Guava Island who wants to liberate his people and inevitably faces the consequences for such a life. With the supporting cast of musician and actress Rihanna, who plays his girlfriend Kofi, Guava Island showcases what it is like to have a dream and what happens when you face you do the right thing.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Select Movie Theaters
Awarded Best Director and the Special Jury Award from Sundance Film Festival, The Last Black Man in San Francisco tells the story of best friends, Jimmie and Mont, who are trying to reclaim the house built by Jimmie's grandfather. While trying to reclaim the house the duo revisit their past, test their friendship, and find a sense of belonging in the place they call home. Based on the life of star Jimmie Fails and the friendship of Fails and screenwriter Joe Talbot, Fails describes the movies as a "love story about [himself] and a house." Critically acclaimed for its cinematography and story, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is surely a movie to add to your must-watch list this year.
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Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
2023 has become the year of celebrity breakups with headlines breaking left and right about celebs filing for divorce or ending high-profile relationships. The latest couple to announce their dissolution? British actress Jodie Turner-Smith. TMZ reported that Jodie has filed for a divorce from her husband, Dawson Creek alum Joshua Jackson.
As far as her reason for calling it quits, Jodie cited "irreconcilable differences," according to TMZ, and has requested joint custody of the couple's daughter, Juno Rose Diana Jackson. Late last year there were rumblings of there being "trouble in paradise" for the couple after the media realized they were no longer following each other on Instagram.
Those rumors were more than laid to rest when Jodie and Joshua went to the 2023 Oscars together earlier this year, and even more recently, when they celebrated her birthday together last month during the September unveiling of the Lotus Emeya.
Jodie Turner-Smith celebrates her birthday with husband Joshua Jackson at the unveiling of the new fully-electric Lotus Emeya on September 07, 2023 in New York City.
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Lotus
Despite seeming particularly happy and in love, perhaps the writing was already written on the wall even then. In the past, Jodie has been very celebratory publicly about her love for her estranged husband, even boldly recounting their love story for the books in a 2021 interview with Seth Meyers.
When Jodie and Joshua met, it was while at his birthday party in 2018. Their relationship was hot and heavy from the start, with Jodie openly noting that they began as a "one-night stand." During her 2021 interview with Seth Meyers, she jokingly referred to their love story as a "three-year one-night stand." She shared:
"First of all, I saw him before he saw me and when I saw him, I was like, 'I want that.' And then when he saw me, I just pretended like I didn't see him. He had to yell across the room to me, and I was wearing this T-shirt from a movie called Sorry to Bother You and [actress] Tessa Thompson plays a character called Detroit, and she has this T-shirt that says, 'The Future Is Female Ejaculation.'
"And so, he shouts across the room, 'Detroit!' He comes over and… does this really cute, charming thing that he does and just all night -- he just basically followed me around the party."
The couple were together from that moment forth, and even made things "Instagram official" less than two weeks later while on a dinner date. Joshua would later clarify to Insider that the night they met in 2018 was not a 'one-night stand' or a 'three-year one-night stand' like his then-wife joked but instead, it was "technically a three-night stand."
"It was sealed with a kiss that night and then we didn't leave each other's sides for, well, three years now," Joshua continued at the time.
In a July 2021 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Joshua dropped more details about the why behind getting married. He revealed that he didn't know he wanted to get married to Jodie until "the moment she asked me."
"She asked me on New Year's Eve. We were in Nicaragua. It was very beautiful, incredibly romantic, we were walking down the beach and she asked me to marry her."
He added, "I did not know [she would propose], but she was quite adamant and she was right. This is the best choice I ever made."
Joshua Jackson Reveals Jodie Turner-Smith Proposed To Him
Jodie received quite a bit of flack for proposing to Joshua because it goes against tradition and what society sees as acceptable for a woman to do to a man, and proposing isn't one of them. No matter how much time has passed, the viewpoints around who should do the proposing and who should be proposed to are still very traditional.
After being on the receiving end of such backlash, Joshua would later clarify to the media in a separate interview that it wasn't just Jodie's proposal to him that sealed the deal of them getting married, he proposed to her too. She might have initiated it, but Joshua followed through.
"I accidentally threw my wife under the bus because that story was told quickly and it didn't give the full context and holy Jesus, the internet is racist and misogynist," he explained to Refinery29 that same year. "We were in Nicaragua on a beautiful moonlit night, it could not possibly have been more romantic."
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
He continued, "And yes, my wife did propose to me and yes, I did say yes, but what I didn't say in that interview was there was a caveat, which is that I'm still old school enough that I said, 'This is a yes, but you have to give me the opportunity [to do it too].'"
"She has a biological father and a stepdad, who's the man who raised her. [I said], 'You have to give me the opportunity to ask both of those men for your hand in marriage.' And then, 'I would like the opportunity to re-propose to you and do it the old-fashioned way down on bended knee.' So, that's actually how the story ended up."
Joshua and Jodie would eventually marry in December 2019. Shortly thereafter, Jodie gave birth to the couple's first child, Janie, in 2020.
In a recent interview with Elle UK, Jodie shared the ways becoming a mother to Juno helped to heal her of her wounds from colorism she experienced in the past. "It's interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother and, throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world," Jodie shared with the outlet.
She continued, "Then I fell in love with my husband and we talked about having kids. I did have this mini pause, where I was like, 'She's going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have, but looking like people that, in a way, I'd always felt a little bit tormented by.' Now that I've got this little, tiny, light-skinned boss, I feel like it’s the universe teaching me lessons. I've been given a daughter who looks this way to heal my own conversations around colorism."
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Featured image by Amy Sussman/Getty Images