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10 Movies You Should See That Pass The ''DuVernay Test''

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    There still aren't enough women behind the lens in Hollywood, but women in front of the camera are coming under closer scrutiny than ever. Which may actually be a good thing.

    To see whether a film features well-rounded female characters, you can run it through the Bechdel test, which aims to count the number of times at least two female characters talk about topics other than men. To see if LGBT characters have been well-represented in a movie, there's the Russo test. Now, thanks to The New York Times' Manohla Dargis, we have the DuVernay test.

    Named for Selma director Ava Duvernay, it's a test to see if a movie presents substantive depictions of people of color. While the Bechdel test has certain boxes that need to be checked off, the DuVernay test is broader. Dargis explained that, in films which pass the test, "African-Americans and other minorities have fully realized lives rather than serve as scenery in white stories."

    While there's a definite need to increase diversity so more movies can pass the DuVernay test, there are great films you can watch right now that feature people of color as fully rounded characters driving the narrative, not tokens. We've collected a few for you to enjoy while you wait for a year when there's no need for an #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. From period pieces to comedies to contemporary dramas, it's a perfect streaming watch list.


    An earlier version of this story said Fruitvale Station was Michael B. Jordan's first feature film. It was actually 2007’s Blackout.

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    Dear White People (2014)

    Dear White People works as a classic college comedy (will the guy get the girl who's too smart for him, but likes him anyway?), but more importantly, the film does a great public service in explaining away the idea of reverse racism.

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    Belle (2013)

    In Gugu Mbatha-Raw's breakout role, she plays a real woman born in England in the 1700s, caught between the privileges her money provided her and the place in society she held based on the color of her skin. Belle is the only lead played by a person of color, but this is very much her story and her film.

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    Sister Act 2 (1993)

    Whoopi saves the kids, and Lauryn Hill saves a previously dull hymn in a film that clearly shows that teens in a failing inner-city school don't need a heroic white teacher to rescue them.

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    Beyond the Lights (2014)

    Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, best known for Love and Basketball, this story is part forbidden romance, part nightmarish stage-mother saga.

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    Dreamgirls (2006)

    Passing the DuVernay test easily, Dreamgirls is also an incredibly feminist film, with the Dreams realizing their talent is their own, and doesn't depend on the greedy men around them.