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John Singleton, at the age of 23, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his debut film, Boyz N the Hood. The film stars Laurence Fishburne, Angela Basset, Ice Cube, and Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. in his first starring role in a feature film. Gooding plays Tre Styles, a teenager growing up in South Central Los Angeles. His father, Furious (Fishburne), is divorced and living away from Tre and his mother (Basset), but he's still involved in Tre's upbringing, teaching him the values of right and wrong and responsibility. Meanwhile, Tre's childhood buddies Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Doughboy (Ice Cube) are living their lives in terms of the epidemic of violence and poverty that has plagued their neighborhood. Ricky, a talented football player, strives to get a full athletic scholarship to college. If only his SAT scores were higher. Doughboy lives a life full of crime but still remains true to his friends. The obstacles that these three young men come across result in dire consequences, devastatingly avoidable and inevitable at the same time. Boyz N the Hood is a landmark film beyond its commercial success, presenting a portrait of South Central in the late '80s and early '90s as painted by Singleton (who grew up in that neighborhood), achieving accuracy and dramatic resonance in this story of at-risk youth. --Shannon Gee
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