Best Drama Movies on Netflix Right Now (2020)

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Denzel Washington and another man in a scene from the film ‘He Got Game’, 1998. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)
Denzel Washington and another man in a scene from the film ‘He Got Game’, 1998. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images) /

No. 25 He Got Game (1998)

Written by: Spike Lee

Directed by: Spike Lee

Starring Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, and Milla Jovovich

Spike Lee films are often polarizing for several reasons. One might be able to fault him for the poor pacing of his scripts, the choppy and disjointed nature of his style of cinematography, or even the way in which he likes to take risks on giving certain actors and actresses more material than they are equipped to handle. However, it is hard to deny the cultural influence Spike Lee’s films tend to have on the larger landscape of the modern cinema. He is a revolutionary filmmaker, whether it’s for better or worse, and He Got Game provides a perfect example of Lee stepping on both sides of that thin line between strange and brilliant.

He Got Game is the story of a father, Jake Shuttlesworth (Washington), trying to convince his son, Jesus Shuttlesworth (then NBA star Ray Allen), to play for “Big State”, a college in New York where the Governor of New York is an alum. Jake, who’s serving time in prison, is asked by the governor to recruit his son to “Big State” because of Jesus’s otherworldly talent, and in exchange, it would reduce Jake’s prison sentence for accidentally killing his wife and Jesus’s mother.

It is honestly hard to tell, even after multiple viewings, how great or mediocre of a film He Got Game truly is. It’s an extremely unconventional movie and, in certain parts, feels detached from reality. One scene in particular, when Jesus is visiting schools that are recruiting him, the entire journey feels like a hallucination by both Jesus and the audience. Yet, it’s hard not to think the scene, for all its uniqueness, would have been much more effective without Lee’s style placed on top of it.

Regardless, this is a movie worth watching multiple times for the performances, mainly Washington’s, and for the influence it continues to have almost twenty years later. This may ultimately be a movie you don’t enjoy, but it will definitely be a movie you ask your friends to watch to see what they think.