Well, the year is officially over. 2008 has been a quiet year for African-Americans in film. Last year we had The Great Debaters, American Gangster, Talk to Me — however, this year there were very films telling stories about African-American life. Still, you can’t ignore the performances, whether heavy and emotional or fun and fashionable. Here are the best performances from African-American actors in 2008:
10. Will Smith in Seven Pounds
While not the best film, Smith still gave a great performance. If anything was right about Seven Pounds, it was Will Smith.
9. Jada Pinkett Smith in The Women
Okay, I know The Women was an awful movie. Nonetheless, it was Jada’s character that gave the film some life. She played a lesbian, which was not in the original movie and managed to add some soul to a drab cast and trite script. Jada makes anything look good.
8. Jennifer Hudson in Sex and the City
J-Hud beat out Kelly Rowland for this role and while some criticized her for taking a supporting role after winning an Oscar, this was a good look. She played the role of Louise, who was Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant.
7. Brandon T. Jackson in Tropic Thunder
Jackson held his own with comedic legends like Ben Stiller and Robert Downey, Jr. Tropic Thunder wasn’t without its controversy (Downey playing a white guy who is playing black), Jackson’s character said everything black audiences were thinking. Hopefully we will see more from Jackson in the not so distant future.
6. Douglas Silva in City of Men
Douglas Silva is a Brazilian actor who starred in the critically acclaimed City of God and the television series City of Men. City of Men the film was released in the U.S. this year, which tells the story of Acerola (Silva) and his best friend turning eighteen. A drug war breaks out and the two friends are tested beyond their limits.
5. Thandie Newton in Rocknrolla
The always stunning Newton gave a sizzling performance as the sassy and edgy Stella in Guy Ritchie’s Rocknrolla. The Brit action-comedy revolves around clumsy criminals trying to get rich quick.
4. Sophie Okonedo in Secret Life of Bees
Okonedo is another underrated actress and her brilliance is hard to deny in any film. She was the standout in Secret Life of Bees, holding her own among Grammy and Oscar winners.
3. Viola Davis in Doubt
Davis has been in film and television for over ten years and is just getting the attention she deserves. Her performance in Doubt has already earned her a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar nod is a strong possibility.
2. Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Taraji P. Henson might possibly be the next Halle Berry. She has grown from her days in 2001’s Baby Boy. Now, she is getting recognition across the world for her performance as Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Henson received a SAG nomination and might battle out the Oscar with Viola Davis.
1. Jeffrey Wright in Cadillac Records
Littered with mixed reviews, Cadillac Records wasn’t the smash hit everyone hoped for. Whatever the case, you can’t ignore Wright’s performance as the legendary Muddy Waters. Nearly every review praised his skills and he definitely has a bright future in Hollywood. If Cadillac Records would’ve been better written and executed, Wright would’ve had the year Jamie Foxx had with 2005’s Ray.
See you in the ‘09!