Welcome to Framed, a new column at Cinematical that celebrates the artistry of cinema -- one frame at a time.
Malcolm X was mostly overlooked at the 1992 Academy Awards -- and I'm not really sure why. It's arguably one of the ten best films of that entire decade, and it's really hard to figure out how such a powerful and beautifully shot film featuring a fantastic Denzel Washington performance didn't garner more attention. Don't be put off, though -- just because the critical community was largely indifferent to Malcolm X doesn't diminish the fact that it's a gorgeous and finely-crafted piece of cinema.
What occasionally gets lost when it comes to Spike Lee movies -- mostly because people seem to have a hard time separating the man from his art -- is that Lee is a genuinely gifted filmmaker. His work with frequent cinematographer Ernest Dickerson has a distinctive look and some recurring shot set-ups that instantly identify the films as "Spike Lee movies." Malcolm X is no exception -- once again featuring Lee and Dickerson's unique visual approach, but also adding in some additional flourishes we hadn't seen prior. However, not everything in Malcolm X has to be in motion to be appreciated fully -- this film does feature some great static images. I've chosen a specific one from near the end of the film because I think it's really impressive from a technical standpoint.