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Year in Review: The 10 Films & TV Shows You Should Watch Before 2022 Begins

Here are some of our favorite shows and movies that dropped this year.

This year didn't quite see the post-COVID-19 world as advertised by your favorite local politicians. But while the pandemic continued to ruin day-to-day activities for everyone on planet Earth, the safety restrictions, work-from-home guidelines, and straight withdrawal from public life enabled cinephiles and TV watchers to enjoy some of the best projects this year had to offer.

While we're still navigating through these dark and uncertain times (thanks, Omarion/Omicron!) — BET.com is telling you to grab a pen and paper to take down our favorite films and TV shows from 2021 that you should watch, laugh at, cry to, and everything in-between before the new year kicks off.

  • Swan Song

    Created By: Benjamin Cleary

    Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Awkwafina, and Glenn Close, and more.

    Streaming On: Apple TV+

    Why You Should Watch It:

    If you’re into science fiction and don’t mind shedding a tear or two, then Mahershala Ali’s performance in this Benjamin Cleary-directed drama is right up your alley. The Academy Award-winning actor plays Cameron, a loving husband and father, diagnosed with a terminal illness. Faced with his own mortality, he makes the ultimate choice to ensure he is always there for his family even after he no longer can be. The film takes a look at how far we will go to ensure our loved one’s happiness.

  • Bruised

    Created By: Michelle Rosenfarb (writer)

    Starring: Halle Berry, Stephen Mckinley Henderson, Adan Canto, and Danny Boyd Jr.

    Streaming On: Netflix

    Why You Should Watch It:

    Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with this Michelle Rosenfarb-written sports drama. We’ll be honest, the film is not what you may expect it to be, judging by the trailer. We follow Jackie “Pretty Bull” Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter, who lives a destitute life set in Newark, NJ. Working as a housecleaner and using alcohol to cope with her failed career, she tries to regain her footing back into the sports world, when she’s knocked off her axial again when the son she gave up as a baby shows up at her doorstep in need.

  • The Harder They Fall

    Created By: Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin

    Starring: Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Delroy Lindo, and Danielle Deadwyer

    Streaming On: Netflix

    Why You Should Watch It:

    The all-star, all-Black cast will capture your pupils on first sight, alone. And if you’re into Westerns, it’s an added plus for this Netflix Original film. When outlaw Nat Love, played by Jonathan Majors, discovers his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison, he rounds up his posse to track him and seek revenge. The group includes his former love, Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), Love’s trusted confidant, Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), and quick-fast, gun-toting Jim Beckwourth (R.J. Cyler). After multiple streams of this new-age Black cinematic classic directed by Jeymes Samuel, be sure to play it’s fire emoji-styled soundtrack on repeat.

  • Malcolm and Marie

    Created By: Sam Levinson

    Starring: Zendaya and John David Washington

    Streaming On: Netflix

    Why You Should Watch It:

    Trigger warning! If you’ve recently gone through a bad breakup or contemplating one, you may want to sit this one out for a while. This black-and-white film follows a filmmaker played by John David Washington and his girlfriend, who is played by Zendaya, embroiled in a heated exchange that goes on throughout the film. With the two not in a good mood, Malcolm and Marie is an examination of how success doesn’t always translate to matters of the heart. Let’s say the night should fare better if your own relationship is in a good space before watching this extremely captivating film.

  • Summer of Soul

    Created By:  Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

    Starring: Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Lin-Manuel, Barbara Bland-Acosta, Dorinda Drake, and more

    Streaming On: Hulu

    Why You Should Watch It:

    There aren’t too many documentaries about Black music festivals that exist in the world. This film, directed by The Roots co-founder Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, covers the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, an almost forgotten event. Featuring nearly two hours of performances from legendary soul artists including Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and many more must-see entertainers of the 60s and 70s, the crux of Summer of Soul comes from testimony by the still-living attendees and power players behind the concert. The fact that this footage was sitting in a basement for decades is almost scarier than the phrase “based on a true story” at the end of a horror film.

  • Queens

    Created By: Zahir McGhee

    Starring: Eve, Nadine Velazquez, Naturi Naughton, and Brandy Norwood

    Streaming On: Hulu

    Why You Should Watch It:

    Naomi, Brianna, Jill, and Valeria, played by Brandy Norwood, Eve, Naturi Naughton, and Velazquez respectively, were all once part of a hot ‘90s hip hop girl group, the Nasty B*****s. Now in their 40s, with kids, estranged from the celebrity life, and out of touch with each other — these ladies are trying to get back to the top they once reigned. Featuring music by Swizz Beatz and a host of interesting twists and turns, this show’s first season should rank high on your must-watch list.

  • Power Book III: Raising Kanan

    Created By: Sascha Penn

    Starring: Patina Miller, Mekai Curtis, Hailey Kilgore, Joey Bada$$

    Streaming On: Starz

    Why You Should Watch It:

    If you loved Power from rapper and television boss Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, you’re probably already watching this show. If not, then why aren’t you? The crime drama series follows 15-year-old Kanan Stark, played by Mekai Curtis, and serves as the younger iteration of 50’s character from the original series. Kanan, who is growing up in the rough and tough section of Jamaica, Queens, New York, is eager to join his family’s drug business. In addition to Curtis, Patina Miller, an award-winning stage performer, wows as Kanan’s mother, Raquel Thomas, while Oscar Award-winning rapper/actor Joey Bada$$ delivers ominous vibes as her opposition, Unique. This show is totally one to enjoy and 50’s rising dominance as a TV executive and creative is only getting sharper with each new project he produces.

  • Black Lady Sketch Show: Season 2

    Created By: Robin Thede

    Starring: Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Denis, Laci Mosely, and Skye Townsend

    Streaming On: HBO Max

    Why You Should Watch It:

    There’s no other show out there quite like Black Lady Sketch, which is also one of the main reasons why actress Robin Thede created the show. What other sketch comedy series features an all-Black, all-female, writer’s room and an ultra-talented leading cast… Don’t worry, we’ll wait. Comedic skits include a Black lady courtroom, surviving the end of the world, and more hilarity that is worth your funny bones. If you love all the things coming out by Black creatives such as Issa Rae and Quinta Brunson, you’ll revel in all the Black girl magic this show creates.

  • The Wonder Years

    Created By: Saladin K. Patterson

    Starring: Elisha “EJ” Williams, Dulé Hill, Saycon Sengbloh, Laura Kariuki, Don Cheadle (Narrator)

    Streaming On: Hulu

    Why You Should Watch It:

    Inspired by the original show of the same name, The Wonders Years is set in the late ‘60s and early 70s and follows a young Dean Williams, played by Elisha “EJ” Williams, growing up in a middle-class Black family in Montgomery, Alabama, during pivotal civil rights moments. Narrated by Golden Globe-winning actor Don Cheadle, the Williams are a nuclear family; Bill and Lilian, played by Hill, and Sengbloh, are working class parents raising Dean and his older sister Kim, played by Laura Kariuki. Viewers watch Dean navigate through those dreadful adolescent milestones like a secret crush, self-image issues, and bullies. Much of the show’s popularity stems from its relatability and its ability to balance equal parts lightheartedness with serious undertones.

  • gen:LOCK | Season 2

    Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning, Maisie Williams, and more.

    Streaming On: HBO Max

    Why You Should Watch It:

    What do you get when you take cartoons and add Michael B. Jordan? An irresistible, action-packed adventure called gen:LOCK. The HBO Max original show, produced by Jordan’s The Outlier Society, finds the actor voicing the character Julian Chase, the leader of a highly skilled team of mecha-pilots, who assist in an ongoing war between The Union and The Polity. Season Two finds both sides continuing their fight with electrifying and revealing results. Schedule this anime for after-hours, because this NSFW actioner is sure to be the talk amongst your fellow Blerd friends.

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