True story. In 1987, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) was sentenced to death in Alabama for the murder of an 18-year-old girl despite clear evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him was clearly coerced by the prosecution. This became one of the first cases taken on by fresh Harvard Law School grad Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), who eventually went on to become a renowned death-row attorney. 

Yes, there have been many competent procedurals on the subject, but two things elevate this to the must-see level. The first is the disciplined, unshowy acting by the two leads, supported brilliantly by Brie Larson as a local advocate, Tim Blake Nelson and Rob Morgan

The second is the subject’s utter relevance today amid the Black Lives Matter movement. Director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, The Glass Castle) eschews Big Acting while lending a certain urgency to the material. The film’s deliberate pace makes the emotional punch at the end all the more effective.

(137 min)