The internet is lousy with lists of ‘The Top 100’ this and ‘The 50 All-time Greatest’ that. And generally speaking, these ranked run-downs don’t offer much in the way of surprises or thought-provoking insights (unless they carry the Entertainment Weekly stamp, of course). But the gallery that the folks over at BlackVoices.com have cooked up for Black History Month is definitely worth checking out.
In their 30 Black Hollywood Game Changers, you’ll find the obvious candidates – Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing), Tyler Perry (the Madea ouevre), and Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song) – rubbing shoulders with less predictable, unsung filmmakers like Oscar Micheaux, the first African-American to direct a movie (1919’s The Homesteader). Micheaux was also the same guy who introduced the world to renown actor Paul Robeson. Clicking through the list I was especially happy to see Ossie Davis’ name come up. After all, most people still think of Davis first and foremost as an actor, but he also had serious chops behind the camera. I’ll never forget seeing Cotton Comes to Harlem as part of a drive-in double feature as a kid along with Shaft’s Big Score! Bill Duke was another pleasant surprise – his gritty 1992 crime flick Deep Cover starring Jeff Goldblum and Laurence Fishburne is a loco gem itching for rediscovery. Actually, there are a lot of great titles like that on this list begging to be seen again. So why not give it a look. Hopefully a few years from now, this gallery will have a lot more names on it than just 30.