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‘The Harder They Fall,’ ‘King Richard,’ ‘Respect’ Lead African American Film Critics’ Top 10

Top choices ”speak to history’s importance in informing who we are,“ says AAFCA president and co-founder Gil Robertson

The Netflix Western “The Harder They Fall” topped the African American Film Critics Association‘s annual list of the top 10 films of the year, the AAFCA announced on Wednesday. The film, directed by Jeymes Samuel and produced by rapper Jay-Z, stars Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Zazie Beetz and LaKeith Stanfield portraying historical Black figures Rufus Buck, Nat Love, Trudy Smith, Stagecoach Mary and Cherokee Bill, respectively.

Also at the top of the list are “King Richard,” starring Will Smith as the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, and “Respect,” the biopic starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin.

“Selections for this year’s Top 10 speak to history’s importance in informing who we are, as a people and as a community,” said AAFCA president and co-founder Gil Robertson in a statement.  “Although our top film ‘The Harder They Fall’ from Netflix is a fictionalized Western, it introduced the world to an incredible array of real-life Black cowboys and cowgirls who helped to transform the West, prompting many to discover the prominent role Black people played in that storied chapter of American history that has long been a Hollywood go-to genre.”

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Added Robertson, “With Richard Williams in ‘King Richard’ and Aretha Franklin in ‘Respect,’ you get an examination of two figures who have left an indelible mark on society and world culture. Mr. Williams, through the cultivation of the talent of his daughters, Venus and Serena, has forever transformed tennis. Their success has become a door-opener by which others can enter a sport that has historically been very closed to them. Obviously not enough can be said about Ms. Aretha Franklin who shaped and transformed the world through her music. These films, along with the rest of AAFCA’s Top 10 films of 2021, celebrate culture, history and history-makers. AAFCA is thrilled to recognize their contributions to cinema.”

The full list of AAFCA’S Top 10 Films of 2021:

  1. The Harder They Fall
  2. King Richard
  3. Respect 
  4. The Tragedy of Macbeth 
  5. Passing 
  6. Belfast 
  7. Who We Are 
  8. House of Gucci
  9. The Power of the Dog
  10. West Side Story

As previously announced, AAFCA will reveal winners of the 13th Annual AAFCA Awards honoring outstanding achievement in film in 15 competitive categories on Jan. 17,2022. An in-person celebration in Los Angeles will follow on March 2.