#83. Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Directed by: John Singleton
Written by: John Singleton
Starring: Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Morris Chestnut, Larry Fishburne, Angela Bassett
The first time I saw John Singleton’s 1991 masterpiece Boyz n the Hood was last February for our Black Directors marathon. I went in with relatively low expectations, as I had heard a number of mixed things about the project. After multiple watches, I was blown away by the performances, the atmosphere, the message, and the relevance of the film – and completely unprepared for how much it would affect me emotionally. It instantly became one of my all-time favorite films, which should say a great deal about how powerful its message is. Boyz n the Hood stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as Tre, a young black man living in the notorious Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. Tre and his girlfriend have plans to attend college together in the Fall, finally able to escape from their unpredictable and occasionally dangerous lives. Before they can go, Tre and his best friend Ricky (Morris Chestnut) try to make the best of their situation, hanging out for one last summer. The true star of Boyz n the Hood is Ice Cube’s Doughboy – who brings much of the emotional weight to the film. John Singleton’s film served as the first on-screen appearance for successful rapper Ice Cube, who delivers a career-best performance as the good kid gone bad Doughboy. Aside from some excellent performances, John Singleton’s script is incredibly genuine and original, clearly coming from a place of respect and understanding. Boyz n the Hood packs an emotional punch without ever feeling preachy or sentimental, which is important in a film with such an important social message. The film lead to John Singleton picking up Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay – making him the first African American nominated for the award, and the youngest person nominated for both. Boyz n the Hood is a truly important and entertaining experience that still feels sadly relevant after 25 years. To read my full thoughts, you can check out my review of Boyz n the Hood here.