Available today is new filmmaker Ryan Coogler’s impressive debut Fruitvale Station, telling the tragic story of Oscar Grant with the help of an award-worthy lead turn from Michael B. Jordan. Coogler’s evenhanded telling and his cast’s spontaneity and authenticity give the tale a fitting naturalism, but the film will be remembered as a look at two phenomenal young talents.
Likewise, Dee Rees’s 2011 drama Pariah introduced an incisive and compelling new filmmaker with the story of an urban youth just trying to find a way to thrive. Also like Fruitvale, the film owes its power to a revelatory central performance. Adepero Oduye rings not a single false note as a 17-year-old coming out and finding her stride.