Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
I was pleasantly surprised by this obviously low-budget production. A college dropout, who never lived up to his potential is injured in a car accident and wakes up in the hospital with amnesia. Johnny B leaves the hospital as Jonathan Butler and proceeds to tap the unfulfilled promise of his youth by taking on the corrupt Chicago political establishment and leading a renaissance in his ghetto neighborhood. With strong support from his mother (played convincingly by Vonetta McGhee), a television investigative reporter (Richard Grant) and his lovely ex-girlfriend, Jonathan brings hope to a neighborhood ravished by crime, blight, drugs and political neglect. Jonathan overcomes every obstacle placed in his way by the mayor and his cronies, and eventually ousts the mayor from office. Though the production is spotty and the acting almost campy at times, a clear message emerges about proud people taking control of their own destiny through self-determination and unwillingness to accept a fate determined by others. The film offers hope, dignity, positive images and a spirit of community that is sorely needed in urban areas today.
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