African American Film Critics Name ‘The Harder They Fall’ Best Film Of 2021

The African American Film Critics Association said Wednesday that it has selected Netflix’s Western The Harder They Fall as its film of the year. It leads a Top 10 list that also includes King Richard, Respect, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Passing, Belfast, Who We Are, House of Gucci, The Power of the Dog and West Side Story.

The AAFCA will reveal winners of the 13th annual AAFCA Awards on January 17, 2022 in 15 competitive film categories, with an in-person ceremony set for March 2 in Los Angeles.

The Harder They Fall, directed and co-written by Jeymes Samuel and which premiered at this year’s London Film Festival, hit about 600 theaters in October before its debut on the streamer November 3. It was No. 1 across all streamers the week of its debut, according to Nielsen.

The ensemble case includes Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, R.J. Cyler, Damon Wayans Jr., Deon Cole, Regina King and Idris Elba. The script from Samuel and Boaz Yakin centers on outlaw Nat Love (Majors), who discovers enemy Rufus Buck (Elba) is being released from prison and rounds up his gang to seek revenge. Producers included Shawn Carter, James Lassiter, Lawrence Bender and Samuel.

“Selections for this year’s Top 10 speak to history’s importance in informing who we are, as a people and as a community,” AAFCA president and co-founder Gil Robertson said today “Although our top film The Harder They Fall from Netflix is a fictionalized Western, it introduced the world to an incredible array of real-life Black cowboys and cowgirls who helped to transform the West, prompting many to discover the prominent role Black people played in that storied chapter of American history that has long been a Hollywood go-to genre.”

The AAFCA is made up of journalists covering print, TV, radio broadcast and digital. Last year, it selected eventual Best Picture Oscar nominee Judas and the Black Messiah as its best picture. Its selections this year follow fellow early critics group the New York Film Critics Circle, which voted Japan’s Drive My Car as its film of the year last week.

Here’ the full list of this year’s AAFC winners:

The Harder They Fall

King Richard


The Tragedy of Macbeth



Who We Are

House of Gucci

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

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