Praises should be sung for Andra Day

Rick's Reviews

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – If you are like me, this is when you start thinking about seeing movies that could end up earning Oscar nominations. That’s been a little difficult to do with all the movie theaters closed.

Thanks to the streaming service of Hulu you can at least see one film that should be well represented at this year’s Oscar ceremonies. “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” debuts on Feb. 26 and it is a magnificent film as a story of human tragedy, deep racism and the creative process.

The film looks at Billie Holiday – played by Andra Day – one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. She spent much of her career being adored by fans while dealing with members of the federal government who targeted Holiday in a growing effort to escalate and racialize the war on drugs.

Their main target was getting Holiday to stop  singing her controversial and heart-wrenching ballad, “Strange Fruit.” The song deals with the lynching of blacks in the South.

Director Lee Daniels goes between the emotional and physical struggles Holiday face because of drug addiction to the political and social ramifications of her creativity being stifled by racism. Both parts are equally powerful and come crashing together to make this a powerful story of grand success and desperate failure.

Those of you old enough to remember the 1972 film “Lady Sings the Blues” might recall that Diana Ross earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Billie Holiday.

Ross was good but Grammy-nominated Andra Day’s portrayal of the singer in “The United States vs. Billie Holliday” is beyond spectacular. Day is a leading contender to walk away with an Oscar this year.

This is a compelling film that should not be missed especially if you are an Oscar fan like me.

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