In celebration of Black History Month, we’re making daily movie recommendations, presented in chronological order of the films’ stories.
Stay tuned to Noovie every day as we highlight an original, landmark film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.
February 21 – Fruitvale Station (2009)
Before they teamed up for the historic black superhero hit “Black Panther” and the acclaimed boxing sequel “Creed,” filmmaker Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan made a definitive, lasting cinematic impact with the 2013 real-life drama “Fruitvale Station.”
The movie is a recounting of the last day of Oscar Grant, a young man from the San Francisco Bay area whose life was tragically, unjustly cut short in the early hours of January 1, 2009, after a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer used excessive force and shot and killed him.
Coogler, who had been a graduate student at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts when Grant was killed, tells the story in uniquely human terms. We know what will happen to Oscar at the end of this story, so seeing him progress through his last hours is even more haunting and sorrowful.
We follow Oscar as he argues with his girlfriend, tries to be a good father, attempts to get his job back at the local grocery store, and attends his mom’s birthday party. Afterwards, instead of driving, he takes the BART into San Francisco to attend New Year’s Eve festivities. It’s on the ride home, when a friend recognizes him, that he has an altercation with another passenger who recognizes him from his time in jail. BART police officers respond to the incident, and Grant and others are restrained.
While already incapacitated, a defenseless Grant is shot in the back by one of the officers. He later dies at the hospital. The film incorporates real-life footage shot by witnesses at the scene, which only further heightens the tragedy. “Fruitvale Station’s” greatest accomplishment is showing that this is a human being who was unnecessarily lost.
His future was taken away from him, and it should not have been. Those who see the movie will feel and mourn his loss.
While audiences world wide are much more familiar with their subsequent work together, “Fruitvale Station” is a film to seek out and treasure. It is one of the most empathetic films produced in recent years about someone we can all relate to – a friend, a neighbor, a relative, or someone we pass every day on the street.
The film won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. It is must-see cinema.
Where to Watch
Drama / 2013 / R
Synopsis: Though he once spent time in San Quentin, 22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard to live a clean life and support his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and young daughter (Ariana Neal). Flashbacks reveal the last day in Oscar's life, in which he accompanied his family and friends to San Francisco to watch fireworks on New Year's Eve, and, on the way back home, became swept up in an altercation with police that ended in tragedy. Based on a true story.