Fruitvale Station is a special film. Ryan Coogler, director, has taken a social controversy, a headline story, and made it human and accessible to most audiences. Told in a ground-level manner, the film rarely resorts to easy emotional tugs or blatant sentimentality. There's no spoiler in saying we know how this ends, 'cause it shows the ending right at the open of the movie. The point is understanding who Oscar was and how it is was he came to be at Fruitvale Station on New Year's Eve.
Michael B Jordan (Oscar) creates a character that is alive with flaws but reaching toward redemption. All of his relationships are believably knotted up and portrayed with depth by Melonie Diaz (Sophina), Octavia Spencer (Wanda), and Ariana Neal (Tatiana). I wouldn't expect to find good villains in a realistic story like this, Kevin Durand (Officer Caruso) creates someone who swings between extremes of anger and compassion, missing stereotypes in both directions. Joey Oglesby (Cale) has a small amount of screen time, but creates a nemesis that works within the subtext of the movie and is somehow inevitable.
If there is a weakness, it is that the point-of-view may be a bit too dispassionate, a little too inspired by documentary, and a little too reluctant to own the tragedy around Oscar. We are shown the loss and all of it's repercussions, but we are not overwhelmed, for better and for worse.