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Mitchell's Top 20 Films of 2013: #19 "Fruitvale Station"

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19. "Fruitvale Station" - On New Year’s Day 2009, a BART police officer senselessly shot and killed an unarmed 22-year-old man named Oscar Grant III in Oakland, CA.

Racial tensions escalated because the officer was white and Grant was black, and this local tragedy quickly became a national story.

Writer/director Ryan Coogler retells this highly troublesome tale to the big screen in a film adaptation of that day’s events.

Coogler follows Grant (Michael B. Jordan) throughout the day, and he treats the material with a documentary-like approach.

We see Grant wrestle with unemployment and his responsibilities to his girlfriend, Sophina (Melonie Diaz), and young daughter, Tatiana (Ariana Neal).

He knows making a living the “easy” way is clearly the wrong choice, but desperate times can blur the lines of right and wrong.

With Coogler’s skillful use of a handheld camera and Jordan’s genuine performance, so much real tension builds upon Grant’s big decision, you really forget his life will end within 24 hours.

Grant’s socioeconomic reality feels hopeless at times but shows glimmers of hope with his own spirit and the strength of his family.

These moments of hope and warm smiles make Grant's fate all the more heartbreaking.

Coogler honors this man, and the film allows the audience to witness Grant’s life for 85 captivating minutes on the screen.

Fruitvale Station” is authentic, raw and important, and it does not put face to a Grant, but puts a life to him.

Follow me on Twitter: @MitchFilmCritic

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