Judas and The Black Messiah

For me, this is the film of the year, the best one amid all the awards season offerings. I thought it was superb – the story of firebrand Black Panther Fred Hampton, set in late 60s Chicago, where Lakeith Stanfield plays William O’Neal, a street hustler recruited by the FBI (the agent is played by Jessie Plemmons) to infiltrate the local chapter of the Panthers where the Bureau have grave concerns about this new political leader, a young man, only 20, called Fred Hampton, who is played with bags of charisma, power, intelligence and tenderness by Daniel Kaluuya.

Based on truth, the film by Shaka King has lots of tones and textures, spryly moving from tense stand-offs and scenes of political oratory and social consciousness to betrayal and brutal shoot-outs. King handles it all with great skill, using marvellous soundtrack choices, from Duke Ellington to Rashan Roland Kirk, the Cytations, Eddie Gale, and The Watts Prophets.

Kaluuya is magnetic to watch, the ideas throughout are powerful, the love story with his girlfriend played by Dominique Fishback very affecting, and it’s cool and funky and damn serious, too, important without being self-important, conscious with being self-conscious. An instant classic, I reckon, entering the canon, all guns blazing.