2

Staff & contributors
The Great Lillian Hall doesn’t do anything particularly great to a familiar premise, but it’s still worth watching for the knockout performances. There’s Lange, whose dementia both complicates her desire to mount one last performance and resurfaces her guilt for being an absent mother. There’s Bates, who offers both sympathy and tough love. And then there’s Rabe, who’s gut-punching as the pained daughter crawling her way into her mother’s stiff arms. Everything else about the film is not as noteworthy as it drags the film for way longer than it should be. But that trifecta of performances makes it all worthwhile.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Allison Mackie, Blaque Fowler, Bryan McClure, Cindy Hogan, Clayton Landey, David Chin, David Marshall Silverman, David Vaughn, Derrick LeMont, Erik Parillo, Jesse Williams, Jessica Lange, Jonathan Horne, Kathy Bates, Keith Arthur Bolden, Kenneth Trujillo, Lauren Buglioli, Lily Rabe, Meg Gillentine, Michael Rose, Noshir Dalal, Pierce Brosnan, Rebecca Watson, Robert Stevens Wayne, Tenz McCall, Zele Avradopoulos

Director: Michael Cristofer

Rating: PG-13

, 2023

An unsung hero of the civil rights movement gets the customary Oscar bait treatment in this biopic. Though he was instrumental in organizing the historic March on Washington — which helped force the US government to enshrine civil rights — gay Black activist Bayard Rustin isn’t the household name his peers are. In an inversion of that narrative, figures like Martin Luther King appear here as supporting characters to Colman Domingo’s Bayard.

Domingo’s energetic, commanding performance holds the center of the film, but he’s ill-served by the formulaic approach to storytelling that unfolds around him. More than a few scenes feel like they were written, directed, and performed with an eye to making awards ceremony clips, giving the film a disjointed, self-aware air. And yet, for all the limits of its by-the-numbers approach, Rustin does manage to pack in glints of insight. By virtue of who he was, Bayard will never not make for a compelling central figure — so even lackluster filmmaking can’t sap this inherently radical material of all its power. Though not without its flaws, then, the film is valuable for the light it sheds on the polarising effect Bayard's identity as a gay Black man had within the movement and the intersectional depths he nevertheless brought to it. 

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Adrienne Warren, Aml Ameen, Audra McDonald, Ayana Workman, Bill Irwin, Carra Patterson, CCH Pounder, Chanel Minnifield, Chris Rock, Collin Antrim Miller, Colman Domingo, Cotter Smith, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Dan Sauer, Daniel Johnson, Frank Harts, Glynn Turman, Grantham Coleman, Gus Halper, Hope Clarke, Ivan Moore, Jeff Hochendoner, Jeffrey Wright, Johanna McGinley, Johnny Ramey, Jordan Aaron Hall, Jules Latimer, Kevin Mambo, Lilli Kay, Maxwell Whittington-Cooper, Michael Potts, Rashad Edwards, Robert F. Kennedy, Scott Deal, Zuri Starks

Director: George C. Wolfe

Rating: PG-13