Fruitvale Station takes place on the last day of 2008, also the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, an ex-convict seeking to reform his life who was shot dead by a transit police officer after an altercation on an Oakland bound train. Making his directorial debut and also manning screenplay duties, Ryan Coogler goes to great, even manipulative lengths (presented as a true life docudrama, do we actually have details such as Grant comforting a wounded pit bull to its death?) to humanize his protagonist in this extremely personal drama. What gives the film weight, however, is the remarkable performance of Michael B. Jordan (familiar perhaps through TV's Friday Night Lights and The Wire) who digs deep and finds the core of his character. Also impressive is Coogler's direction, told through non-distracting handheld photography, and a fine supporting performance from Melonie Diaz who plays Grant's loving, worn out girlfriend.