Exemplary Films Celebrated in a Controversial Year for the Recognition of African American Filmmaking
Washington, D.C. — In the midst of a turbulent controversy surrounding the sweeping lack of recognition of African-American films and filmmakers at the upcoming Academy Awards, the 16th Annual Black Reel Awards conferred their honors today on 2016’s finest feature and independent films and television featuring blacks in front of and behind the camera. From the Nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C., films and actors that were largely ignored by the Academy found recognition. The heavyweight champ of the year was Creed, the distant sequel to 1976’s Rocky. The film won Outstanding Film, Outstanding Director (for Ryan Coogler), Outstanding Actor (for Michael B. Jordan), Outstanding Supporting Actress (for Tessa Thompson), and Outstanding Screenplay (for Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington).
“Bolstered by strong award-winning performances from its two leads, Ryan Coogler’s winning Rocky-spinoff, Creed, punched its way to the head of its class and is a worthy addition to our gallery of Outstanding Film winners,” said Black Reel Awards founder and Executive Director, Tim Gordon.
Teyonah Parris won Outstanding Actress for her role in Chi-Raq, Spike Lee’s modern recasting of Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, and the first film to be released by Amazon Studios. Beasts of No Nation, another Internet upstart entry from Netflix, about child soldiers in war-torn Africa, was honored with the Outstanding Supporting Actor award for Idris Elba and the Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male for newcomer Abraham Attah. Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female went to Dope’s Kiersey Clemons. One of the year’s most talked about films, Straight Outta Compton, about the formation of the rap group NWA, took home Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Score.
“With all the dialogue swirling around regarding the exclusion of African-American films and performances, the Black Reel Awards continues to fulfill its initial mission by establishing itself as the pre-eminent institution that annually values and honors Black excellence in films,” said Gordon.
Tangerine, a film about the transgender sex trade in Hollywood, shot entirely on iPhones, won Outstanding Independent Film. Other feature awards included What Happened, Miss Simone for Outstanding Documentary, Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Blues for Outstanding Independent Documentary, and Girlhood for Outstanding Foreign-Language Film.
On the small screen side, Outstanding TV Documentary or Special was awarded to The Wiz Live!, while Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series went to Bessie. David Oyelowo, last year’s Outstanding Actor for the film, Selma, won Outstanding Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series for Nightingale. Queen Latifah won the Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series award for her role as legendary blues performer Bessie Smith in Bessie. Bessie’s Dee Rees took home Outstanding Director, TV Movie or Limited Series. Critical darling Fargo earned an Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series award for Bokeem Woodbine while American Crime’s Regina King won the Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series prize. American Crime also garnered an Outstanding Screenplay, TV Movie or Limited Series for John Ridley.
The Black Reel Awards (BRAs), created in 2000, annually honors African-American and people of African descent in achievement in feature, independent and television films.
For the full list of Black Reel Awards winners, too numerous to list here, please see below:
16th Annual Black Reel Award Winners
Michael B. Jordan | Creed
Teyonah Parris | Chi-Raq
Outstanding Supporting Actor
Idris Elba | Beasts of No Nation
Outstanding Supporting Actress
Tessa Thompson | Creed
Ryan Coogler | Creed
Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington | Creed
Sylvester Stallone, Irwin Winkler, David Winkler,
Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Kevin King-Templeton, Producers
What Happened, Miss Simone | Liz Garbus
Straight Outta Compton | Victoria Thomas and Cindy Tolan
Outstanding Foreign-Language Film
Girlhood | Céline Sciamma (France)
Joseph Trapanese | Straight Outta Compton
Outstanding Original Song
“See You Again” | Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth (Furious 7)
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male
Abraham Attah | Beasts of No Nation
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female
Kiersey Clemons | Dope
Outstanding Voice Performance
Rihanna | Home
Outstanding Independent Film
Tangerine | Sean Baker
Outstanding Independent Documentary
Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Blues | Carol Bash
Outstanding Independent Short
Addiction | Danny Dzhurayev
Outstanding TV Documentary or Special
The Wiz Live! | Kenny Leon
Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series
Bessie | Ron Schmidt, Producer
Outstanding Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series
David Oyelowo | Nightingale
Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series
Dana Owens (Queen Latifah) | Bessie
Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series
Bokeem Woodbine | Fargo
Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series
Regina King | American Crime
Outstanding Director, TV Movie or Limited Series
Dee Rees | Bessie
Outstanding Screenplay, TV Movie or Limited Series
John Ridley | American Crime