3 Best Movies to Watch by Daniel Kaluuya

Staff & contributors

One of the most thrilling biographical films to come out of Hollywood in the 2020s, Shaka King's exhilarating take on a truly remarkable leader within the Black Panther Party—and the young man who would eventually be twisted into betraying him—also provides a respectful, honest space to voice out progressive views that still aren't fully embraced in the United States. Much of the film is made up of beautiful, powerful rhetoric, contrasting in fascinating ways with scenes of violence or deception that only remind us how ahead-of-his-time chairman Fred Hampton was and still is. And in a thunderous, Oscar-winning performance, Daniel Kaluuya brings all of Hampton's words roaring to life while still reminding us of how tragically young this inspirational figure was at the time of his death.

But Judas and the Black Messiah tells an equally powerful second story over this one: that of FBI informant William O'Neal who reluctantly agrees to sell Hampton to the feds, and quickly realizes that he's been scammed too. Rivaling—and, arguably, besting—Kaluuya's performance is LaKeith Stanfield, whose tortured and increasingly despairing performance as O'Neal is the stuff of pure Shakespearean drama. Together, both stories ask us what real freedom looks like, and that we believe we can still fight for it.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Algee Smith, Amari Cheatom, Amber Chardae Robinson, Ashton Sanders, Caleb Eberhardt, Chris Hahn, Daniel Kaluuya, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Dominique Fishback, Dominique Thorne, Graham Lutes, Ian Duff, Ikechukwu Ufomadu, James Udom, Jermaine Fowler, Jesse Plemons, Khris Davis, Lakeith Stanfield, Lil Rel Howery, Linda D Gaines, Martin Sheen, Nicholas Velez, Nick Fink, Raymond Seay, Robert Longstreet, Terayle Hill

Director: Shaka King

On their drive back from a Tinder date that was only average, a couple are pulled over by a racist police officer. Things escalate unexpectedly and the couple, one of whom is a lawyer aware of the corruptedness of the system, start a life on the run together. This thrilling set-up mixing social commentary and romance is a movie that's actually many movies in one. And almost as if to cut in-between the different tonalities, there are so many quiet and beautiful shots of the couple: silent, still or dancing - these moments are true cinematic magic. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance

Actor: Andre De'Sean Shanks, Andy Dylan, Benito Martinez, Bokeem Woodbine, Brian Thornton, Bryant Tardy, Chloe Sevigny, Colby Boothman-Shepard, Daniel Kaluuya, Dickson Obahor, Flea, Gayle King, Gralen Bryant Banks, Indya Moore, Jahi Di'Allo Winston, Jodie Turner-Smith, Joseph Poliquin, Karen Kaia Livers, Lucky Johnson, Melanie Halfkenny, Robert Walker Branchaud, Soledad O'Brien, Sturgill Simpson, Thom Gossom Jr.

Director: Melina Matsoukas

Rating: R

, 2022

It's inspiring to see that, even after Jordan Peele made the jump to blockbuster budgets, he hasn't lost the ability to evoke the sheer visceral panic of seeing something that isn't supposed to be there. Nope is that increasingly uncommon kind of film whose dense air of mystery isn't frustrating—and in fact uses to great effect the very human instinct to understand the unknowable, even if we know it'll hurt us. Its characters might not be the most three-dimensional and the development of its themes seems to depend on a lot of extrapolation and educated guessing, but the way Nope transforms from alien invasion, to monster movie, to western adventure, to cosmic horror still makes the film much greater than the sum of its parts.

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction

Actor: Alex Hyde-White, Andrew Patrick Ralston, Barbie Ferreira, Brandon Perea, Daniel Kaluuya, Devon Graye, Donna Mills, Eddie Jemison, Evan Shafran, Hetty Chang, Jacob Kim, Jennifer Lafleur, Keith David, Keke Palmer, Lincoln Lambert, Liza Treyger, Malcolm Jae O'Shea, Mark Casimir Dyniewicz Jr., Michael Wincott, Osgood Perkins, Oz Perkins, Pierce Kang, Roman Gross, Ryan W. Garcia, Sophia Coto, Steven Yeun, Terry Notary, Wrenn Schmidt

Director: Jordan Peele

Rating: R