Critics suggest better anti-racism films to watch as 'The Help' tops Netflix charts

Tom Beasley
'The Help' was nominated for four Oscars after its release in 2011. (Credit: Disney)

Black film critics have recommended dozens of anti-racism movies to watch after Tate Taylor’s controversial drama The Help soared to the top of the Netflix charts.

Critics dubbed the Oscar-winning drama a “bootleg ‘racial reconciliation’ movie” like Sandra Bullock’s The Blind Side, rather than an authentic portrayal of the black experience.

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The Help was added to Netflix this week and has rocketed to the top of the streaming service’s trending list in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests across the globe, following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

It was a box office hit to the tune of $217m (£171m) worldwide in 2011, but attracted criticism for historical inaccuracies and use of the “white saviour” trope.

Black writers Rebecca Theodore-Vachon and Ira Madison III were among those who expressed sadness at the new popularity of the movie.

Viola Davis, who was nominated for an Oscar for playing maid Aibileen Clark in the movie, previously criticised it in an interview with the New York Times in 2018.

She said: “I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard.”

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Writer Ashly Perez was among those who suggested alternative movies for people to watch to educate themselves about racism in America, rather than The Help.

She pointed to Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th, her Martin Luther King story Selma and her four-part Netflix series When They See Us.

Ava DuVernay attends the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on February 09, 2020. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

One movie that is being widely recommended is Netflix drama American Son, which follows an estranged couple — played by Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale — as they reunite at a police station in the hope of finding their missing son.

Read more: Washington receives GLAAD honour

Washington thanked fans on Instagram for the support they are now giving to the movie.

She said: “It makes me so happy that people are watching American Son on Netflix to deepen their compassion and understanding.

“My dream for this film was to spark conversations that would lead to change.”

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