Spectrum editor’s list of films to watch for March 3

“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (2021)

This Lee Daniels-directed film captures the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ pursuit of jazz musician Billie Holiday, whose success was muddied by drug addiction. In the 1940s, the bureau led an undercover sting operation in an effort to get Holiday to stop singing “Strange Fruit,” a protest of Black lynching in America. Holiday is played by musician Andra Day, who recently won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture in the drama category for her role in this film.

Available on Hulu | 57% Rotten Tomatoes

“What Happened, Miss Simone?” (2015)

This documentary uses archival footage and never-before-heard recordings to depict the life of Nina Simone, a blues artist whose civil rights activism became just as integral to her career as the music. In 2016, this film was nominated for Best Feature Documentary at the Academy Awards.

Available on Netflix | 89% Rotten Tomatoes

“Beats” (2019)

A high school security guard, played by Anthony Anderson, devotes his time to nurturing a student’s future career in the hip-hop industry. The student’s progression, however, is crippled by anxiety and gang violence in Chicago’s South Side.

Available on Netflix | 89% Rotten Tomatoes

“Quincy” (2018)

“Quincy” casts an intimate portrayal of Quincy Jones, the critically acclaimed music producer who has won 27 Grammy Awards. Jones recalls working on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” released in 1982, while modern artists such as Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar share their experiences collaborating with the producer. 

Available on Netflix | 82% Rotten Tomatoes

“Remastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke” (2019)

Nearly 60 years after his murder, questions still surround the untimely death of singer Sam Cooke, who was known as the “King of Soul.” The film raises the possibility that Cooke’s civil rights activism led to his killing as white supremacist groups disparaged his music that called for equality.

Available on Netflix | 100% Rotten Tomatoes

“Dope” (2015)

In this comedic drama, three nerdy high school friends — Malcolm, Jib and Diggy — who bond over ’90s hip-hop music get the opportunity to attend an underground party. What lands in Malcolm’s backpack that night sends all three on a wild adventure.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99 | 88% Rotten Tomatoes

“Homecoming” (2019)

Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” showcases the emotional planning and execution of her groundbreaking performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where she became the first Black woman to headline the festival. The feel-good documentary won a Grammy Award for Best Music Film in 2020.

Available on Netflix | 98% Rotten Tomatoes

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