Ugly Betty | This hysterical American take on a Spanish telenovela packed as much heart as it did laughs. America Ferrera delivered as the spunky and determined Betty, who battled posh naysayers at Meade Publications. Before the devil wore Prada, she probably worked for Vanessa Williams’ Wilhemina Slater, the icy nemesis at Mode Magazine. Ugly Betty was a bright light of fun, inclusion and drama that lit my college years.
Heroes | Another gem during my college tenure. NBC’s venture into superheroes without the capes and spandex was an ambitious leap for network TV. And the first season was absolutely perfect. Enough mystery and grit with each character. And then there was the penultimate season finale, which paved the way for the rest of the series. Midway through season two, it lost its footing and struggled for three more seasons. Even its’ reboot a year or so ago was abysmal. But we’ll always have that extraordinary first season: save the cheerleader. save the world.
Collateral | It’s rare I enjoy an action film that doesn’t involve comic characters, but this film peaked my interest. The same year Jamie Foxx dazzled the Academy with Ray, he and Tom Cruise irked out a gritty tale of true heroism. Cruise’s take as a cold-blooded hitman who enters Foxx’s cab during an evening of work is a sleek examination of human behavior. Pure good versus evil, and how the two are never that far apart.
Get Out | Yes, this movie just dropped this year. Yes, it may have had flaws. It wasn’t even an actual horror film, in the traditional sense. But Jordan Peele’s social examination of America’s living nightmare stuck a chord with everyone. Not only is it the highest-grossing film from a black director with an original screenplay, it has been an accelerant for the discussion of race in America.
Broke With Expensive Taste | How does one explain a problem like Azealia Banks. The NYC native is an insanely talented lyricist, singer and potentially actress. She’s bold artistically and has hits that stick like grits. But that boldness erodes any chance she ascends as hip-hop royalty. Instead her mouth is known more for feuding with the public than it is for spitting rhymes. Despite this her debut album is one of the best rap albums of the decade. Hands down.
B’Day | I was a casual fan of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter in 2006. I enjoyed “Crazy in Love” and mimicked the routine in “Baby Boy.” But I didn’t understand the direction of her sophomore LP. Not on first listen. Everything felt forced. It was loud and overbearing. Plus her eccentric performance of “Deja Vu” at the BET Awards that year had me Ray Charles to this era – until she dropped those videos. And one by one my defenses fell. I succumbed to the honey in her hive, hypnotized by “Upgrade U,” “Freakum Dress” and “Green Light.” While I still dodge “Irreplaceable” I no longer deny the moment Beyoncé leveled up before our eyes. Nothing was ever the same.