A 100% Rotten tomatoes rating


“The timing couldn’t be more fortuitous for the release of Mary Mazzio’s uplifting documentary about the nation’s first African American high school rowing team, which feels almost like a tonic for these troubled times…  [it] powerfully demonstrates the healing potential of sports and the ways it can help bridge societal divides… A movie we could really use right now” – Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

The TODAY SHOW spotlights  A Most Beautiful Thing, along with NBC Nightly News.

“an amazing film… uplifting and inspirational and just plain cool.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Film Critic, Chicago Sun-Times. (Also here.)

Esquire Magazine names  A Most Beautiful Thing as one of the best movies of 2020. 

A Most Beautiful Thing is nominated for a Best Documentary by the International Press Academy and is also nominated for Best Sports Documentary by the  Critics’ Choice Association,  Mary Mazzio is also  nominated by the NAACP for an Image Award (Outstanding Writing in a Documentary) and Arshay Cooper’s book is nominated for an Image Award  (Outstanding Literary Work/Autobiography).

“It would be unfair to give you too many details of what is, simply put, a great movie…” –  Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune. (Also here.) Listen also to WGN’s After Hours with Rick Kogan, “Mary Mazzio is a great great filmmaker…”

“Mazzio, a 1992 Olympic rower herself, nicely captures the beauty of rowing, including the calming sense of peace the water gives team members … An evocative hip-hop score, poetic narration by Common and crisp graphics appropriately underline the timeliness of the filmThe documentary… illustrates the differences that can be made through the efforts of a few and draws attention to the high levels of trauma experienced by residents in our poorest neighborhoods. Imagine the systemic changes that can be wrought if the will of the many is used to achieve them.” – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Film Critic, The Los Angeles Times. (Also here.)

“ I thought it was extraordinary…  and so timely. But it would be extraordinary even if it were not timely… it’s so beautifully done.  This is great filmmaking…”  – Wade Major, Los Angeles Film Critic, KPCC

“Absolutely A Must Watch… I dare you not to cry.” – Chris Baud, Deadspin

“The best documentaries lull you into thinking they’re taking you for a nice float on a lazy stream — then abruptly suck you into a chasm of Class 5 rapids that have you holding on for dear life. That’s the kind of ride we get in director Mary Mazzio’s new film…” – Bill Newcott, The Saturday Evening Post

“The Perfect Sports Movie for These Astounding Times… The film is about a great many things, but at the heart of it all, it’s a story of friendship and how that undeniable bond can help us all get through truly soul-crushing experiences. There’s a levity to “A Most Beautiful Thing.” It would be so easy to rely solely on a catharsis of emotions other than laughter but there is a real sense of positivity about a film that’s as refreshing as it is inspiring..” – Gabe Zaldivar, Sports Illustrated

“A Most Beautiful Thing needs to be at the very top of your movie watch list…A powerful documentary that will move you in more ways than one…” – Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping 

“Every now and then, a film comes along that touches my soul…  ‘A Most Beautiful Thing’ shows us a way forward.” – Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times. (Also: here.)

“The film’s story would be surprising and engrossing at any time, but it has a current power and relevance…” – James Fallows, The Atlantic. (see second Atlantic article here.)

“Over a hip-hop beat, the rapper-turned-actor Common narrates “A Most Beautiful Thing” in an exhilarating, mythical tone. The men at the center of Mary Mazzio’s documentary deserve such treatment: In the 1990s, they formed the nation’s first all-Black high school rowing team while growing up in Chicago’s West Side, where gang violence was prevalent… These interviews are both funny and poignant, as the rowers discuss complex relationships with one another and with their white coaches, who helped turn the rowers’ lives around.’ – Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, The New York Times

“At its core, A Most Beautiful Thing shows the healing potential of sports and offers a powerful message that is incredibly necessary in the times we live in.” – Jonathan Mazzei, Buzzfeed

“One of the most important documentary films of this decade…” – Don Howze, Chicago Now

“I’m all in, four stars out of four; this is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year…” – Sarah Knight Adamson, Sarah’s Backstage Pass 

PeacockTV releases a powerful SIZZLE REEL featuring A Most Beautiful Thing.

Brian Tallerico of writes that  A Most Beautiful Thing is one of the best documentaries which was set to premiere at SXSW (“the best of what never was”): “joyful and powerful…  I adored the storytelling and compassion in Mazzio’s approach. Not everyone could have gotten these guys to open up the way they do in “A Most Beautiful Thing,” and that’s often an underrated element of documentary filmmaking.  Common may do the narrating but Mazzio lets the people like the unforgettable Arshay give the film its momentum…” – Brian Tallerico,  (In a second  review timed with the film’s release, Tallerico writes: “The documentary feels like an elegy for communities that have been divided by disease and violence.  And yet its humanity and optimism remain powerful…Mazzio understands how to give people space to express their joy and fear in equal measure, and her honest interest in Arshay Cooper and his best friends comes through in every frame.”)

“It’s hard to watch A Most Beautiful Thing and not think of another similarly affecting documentary: Hoop Dreams. But while the latter focused on a sport long associated with the Black experience, the former has at its heart one of the whitest activities imaginable: rowing.” – Mark Bechtel,  Sports Illustrated

“Mr. Cooper still rows with his old Manley Crew teammates; they practice separately in the cities where they live and periodically meet up. Mr. Cooper told Ms. Mazzio that his teammate Alvin Ross was excited to reunite with the team ‘to celebrate the fact that we survived the West Side, that we’re still alive.'” – Alexandra Wolfe, The Wall Street Journal. (Also here.)

“a very compelling film and a very timely one…. ”  – Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Film Critic, KPCC (Film Week review starts at 13:1

“How the incredible story of the first all-Black high school rowing team made it to the big screen…  Mazzio says she hopes her film will help relieve people from neighborhoods like the West Side of stereotypes thrust upon them, and lead viewers to learn that the only thing often separating people is the circumstances of birth and skin color…” – Rachel DeSantis, People

“It might start and seem like a story about rowing but it’s really about that thing we all require at one time or another: resilience. The resilience to go against peer pressure and jeering, to not be weighted down by unimaginable tragedies, to reach out to build bridges to a better tomorrow, and to never give up. Any film that can make you feel this deserves many viewings and Mary Mazzio’s A Most Beautiful Thing is the best example of one that I can remember in a very long time.” – Jeremy Goeckner, NPR . (For more on the film from Jeremy, listen to The Front Row Network).

Halley Bondy of NBC’s Know Your Value profiles A Most Beautiful Thing‘s Director, Mary Mazzio. 

“The film’s hopefulness, and the team’s heartening relationship with the officers, is particularly poignant in the wake of the police-related deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the nationwide protests that have followed.” – Timothy Bella,  The Washington Post

Matter of Fact’s Soledad O’Brien interviews Arshay Cooper, Executive Producer Grant Hill, and Director Mary Mazzio about A Most Beautiful Thing.  Preview of interview here, with full interview here.


“NBA superstars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade come together with legendary Hip-Hop producer 9th Wonder and Olympic rower and celebrated filmmaker Mary Mazzio to help tell the story of the first high school rowing team from a Black community in the country…These athletes connected with one another to row their boat in the direction of something bigger…”- Keyaira Boone,  Essence

“So beautifully shot and emotionally gripping” – The Undefeated‘s Kelley L. Carter in conversation with Grant Hill. 

“Mazzio’s journey in creating the documentary ‘‘A Most Beautiful Thing,’’ narrated by Common and with Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade as executive producers, began with a ride around the old neighborhood. Cooper and Ross wanted to give the director a firsthand look at what life was like growing up on the West Side. As the three of them drove through the West Side, beginning at Cooper’s old house and making their way to Manley High School, Cooper and Ross were pointing out the different blocks that belonged to different gangs. “By the time we made it to Manley, I asked, ‘How did you get to school safely?’” Mazzio said. “And Arshay said, ‘That, my friend, is the point.’”- Annie Costabile, Chicago Sun-Times

“The most healing, inspiring film of the year…” – Tim Appelo, AARP (with a five star review)

“As many in the rowing world began talking about the memoir ‘Suga Water,’ former Olympic rower and documentary filmmaker Mary Mazzio, who had just released the acclaimed film ‘I Am Jane Doe,’ about sex trafficking, tweeted to @arshaycooper, ‘A compelling read.’ ‘And then this tweet comes immediately rocketing back at me, and my phone rings 20 minutes later, and it’s Arshay Cooper,’ says Ms. Mazzio. ‘It was a perfect storm in many ways. He said, ‘Would you ever …?’ And I remember gulping, thinking, ‘what a story,’ and it’s a sport we both love. So I was just, like, ‘yes, I’m in, you had me at hello.’” – Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor

“In the 1990s, a group of high school boys from rival gangs in Chicago’s West Side broke barriers in the sport…” –Town&Country’s  Chloe Foussianes profiles A Most Beautiful Thing

 “one of the best documentaries on Peacock” – Griffin Gonzalez,  Buzzfeed 

Scott Simon of NPR’s Weekend Edition sits down with Arshay Cooper to learn more about A Most Beautiful Thing. 

Official Apparel and Footwear partner FILA announces  the partnership with A Most Beautiful Thing. 

The Miami Dolphins  announces the partnership with Pepsi for A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING WEEKEND. 

“I hurt for them, I cried, but ultimately I cheered. This film, this journey, is so important. It’s the heart of Black folks we seldom get to see.” – Sherin Nicole, Idobi

Fortune Magazine spotlights A Most Beautiful Thing in its “What to watch this Labor Day weekend” list.

Grant Hill and Arshay Cooper discuss A Most Beautiful Thing with Jenn White on NPR

“We wanted to recast the narrative… we did it for our community, our kids, for Josh…” – Arshay Cooper speaks with Emily Webb of the BBC.

“Powerful… The positive outcomes and messages in this film are many — but when the men put the lessons they learned into action to move their own community forward, those lessons become outright inspiring.” – Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media.The film is also selected as a *Common Sense Selection for Teens and Families.* 

“Why is A Most Beautiful Thing must-see viewing? Because it is a message of hope when hope is needed most.” Alan Ng, Film Threat

Rotten Tomatoes names A Most Beautiful Thing among the best Peacock original movies. 

“The narrative takes a leap and unfolds in an unexpected way that just about took the top of my head off. I suddenly saw the much wider and perhaps limitless implications of such a program to break down class, racial, cultural, ethnic, and physical barriers, to bring the most unlikely folks together in order to float that boat over the finish line. By the end of the film, it’s impossible not to see rowing as a potent metaphor for how to move forward– in a boat, in a country, in a society that artificially segregates people. What Mazzio– who was on the Olympic rowing team in 1992– creates is a film that captures the effects of that transcendent change. I found myself tearing up, cheering them on, and wishing with my whole heart and soul that everyone could see and feel this film.” – Joyce Kulhawik, Joyce’s Choices

“Masterful… it’s this multiplicity of faces and voices that gives the film its tremendous strength… by digging deep, and revealing how rowing can be not only a mechanism for achievement and self-discovery, but also a means by which people of the most disparate backgrounds and viewpoints can come together and “rise,” Mazzio has created a most beautiful portrait of what our sport, at its finest, can mean.” – Oli Rosenbladt, Row2k

“This is a great sports movie for people who think they don’t like sports movies.” – Ben Axelson,

“With humor and heart, this group of strong men spread love and awareness. They strive to break the cycle of absent fathers and to give advice to the youth: ‘Keep working hard towards greatness.’ With an awesome soundtrack, narration by Common, produced by a slew of amazing backers like NBA stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade, and directed by Olympic rower Mary Mazzio, A Most Beautiful Thing crosses the finish line, easily winning over the viewer.” – Liz Whittemore, Alliance of Women Film Journalists

Dave Caldwell of The Guardian writes A Most Beautiful Thing’s message is more relevant than ever.”

Shondaland’s  Valentina Valentini discusses A Most Beautiful Thing with Arshay Cooper and  Director Mary Mazzio. 

 Lebby Eyres profiles Arshay Cooper and A Most Beautiful Thing for Row360.

“Mazzio read Cooper’s first telling of his story and tweeted out her praise. Cooper didn’t know Mazzio and was unfamiliar with her past work, but through that tweet discovered her impressive slate of documentaries, many with an activist angle, including “I Am Jane Doe” and “Underwater Dreams.” He realized that a documentary might be the best fit for telling the Manley crew team’s story onscreen…” – Kristen Tauer, Women’s Wear Daily. (Also here.)

“One thing is certain; Mazzio’s film will be a must-see whenever it premieres…” – Bryan Abrams, The Credits

“If I could make it required viewing for every American this year, I would.” – Kevin Kaduk, Midway Minute

“A new documentary has brought together an acclaimed director, a pair of retired NBA All-Stars and two award-winning hip-hop artists to tell the story of the nation’s first Black high school rowing team.” – Chris Smith, Sports Business Journal

Chicago Magazine‘s Skyler Aikerson interviews Arshay Cooper ahead of A Most Beautiful Thing‘s release. 

New York’s Fox 5 News spotlights A Most Beautiful Thing (featuring interviews between reporter Antwan Lewis and Executive Producer Grant Hill, Director Mary Mazzio, and Arshay Cooper).

Executive producer 9th Wonder sits down with DeArbea Walker of Deadspin to talk about his involvement with A Most Beautiful Thing and how he set about creating the hip-hop score.

“An amazingly inspired, funny, fascinating look at great personalities and athletes who don’t let anything stop them!”  Jan Wahl, Armed Forces Radio Network, KGO San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Times

“Mazzio explores just how traumatic it can be growing up in violent crime zones where gang life is the only way to survive. Experts interviewed float numbers of a 40 percent PTSD rate versus that of 25 percent for war veterans who see combat. The developmental challenges subsequently illuminated are sobering. “There’s so much extraordinary talent squandered,” Mazzio says. Still, at the heart of the film remains Cooper and his barrier-breaking teammates who catch plenty of crabs both on the water and in the streets. What pervades is the notion of team, perseverance and loyalty. Their journey against such stacked odds is truly a most beautiful thing..” – Tom Meek, Patriot Ledger

Sharon Chapman, Features Editor at The Austin American Statesmen, selected A Most Beautiful Thing as one of  SXSW’s must-see films.  The Root lists A Most Beautiful Thing as the number one most anticipated film at SXSW; BET features A Most Beautiful Thing ahead of SXSW Festival; and Atlanta Black Star highlights the involvement of Common, Grant Hill, Dwyane Wade, and 9th Wonder.  The film was also covered by Shadow and Act and Black Enterprise.

“What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received? The best piece of advice came from my mother: never take no for an answer. No means no for that one second, that minute, that day. But it does not mean no forever. And she was so right. Worst piece of advice? Don’t listen to your mother.  Women in Hollywood‘s Meghan Gheron speaks with Mary Mazzio about A Most Beautiful Thing. 

“’There are so many examples and so many inspiring stories that haven’t been told. Trusting [Mazzio] and her ability to tell the authentic story along with the story itself…I was hooked right away.’” Grant Hill talks about A Most Beautiful Thing with Evan Kolin, Duke Chronicle

A Most Beautiful Thing. “WATCH: Five Black History-Making Rowers Pull Together in ‘A Most Beautiful Thing’” – N. Jamiyla Chisholm, Colorlines

“A must watch doc.” – Alex Billington,

“important and wonderful.” – Andy Anderson, Rowing News

Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP & Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast, shares her thoughts about A Most Beautiful Thing on the Comcast  Corporation Website.

A Most Beautiful Thing paints people society tends to cast aside with admirable grace and the same can be said for how it shifts between differing tones. A Most Beautiful Thing’s ability to explore people as complex beings doesn’t mean it sacrifices entertainment when the time is right for such material… Connecting the disparate tonal elements of A Most Beautiful Thing is a unique manifestation of the idea of victory.” – Doug Laman, The Spool

“The Chicago-based documentary flips the script on the white savior story… inspirational… this is a film that every child in the city of Chicago needs to watch…” – Josh Flanders, Chicago Reader 

“Powerful… I give the book and the documentary, A Most Beautiful Thing 5 winks of the EYE!” – Bonnie DeShong, The Chicago Crusader

“Documentarian extraordinaire” – JC Taylor of Creative Features sat down with Mary Mazzio to learn more about A Most Beautiful Thing

“It’s a film that should be watched by all.” – Kevin Williams, 92.7 WBOM

Row2k talks with Arshay Cooper to discuss both his memoir and the film, A Most Beautiful Thing.  Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Also, Rowing News features A Most Beautiful Thing, as does Row2k   USRowing,  Row2k, and Row360,  the US Olympian and Paralympian Newsletter, and World Rowing.

OZY Media‘s Carlos Watson talks with Grant Hill about A Most Beautiful Thing (tune in at 16:22 to hear them discuss the film).

“The heartfelt sincerity of this crowd-pleasing documentary drives it to the finish line.” – Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue

“In the end, winning didn’t matter so much as making an impact.” – Joshua Ocampo , Men’s Health

“’To be able to explore the impediments that limit Americans just by virtue of the zip code they’re born in and the color of their skin, and being able to  explore that against this sport that we love — that Arshay loves, that I love — has really been an exceptional opportunity to not just look at access and opportunity but privilege,’ she said. ‘And what are the obligations of privilege that are attendant to having that privilege?'” – Mary Mazzio in conversation with Luciano Marano, The Leader 

“In ‘A Most Beautiful Thing’, directed by former Olympian and filmmaker, Mary Mazzio, she masterfully allows the story to be told through the eyes of the men who lived it.  These charismatic young men will grab your hearts through their stories. “A Most Beautiful Thing” offers stunning statistics and commentary on the roots of poverty, economic disparity, the war on drugs, and gang violence as it relates to how it affects the lives of our children… an extraordinary documentary” – Danielle Sanders, Chicago Defender

Mike Boylan of Sports Business Journal sits down with Mary Mazzio to learn more about her and A Most Beautiful Thing. 

Sarah Knight Adamson of Alliance of Women Film Journalists interviews Mary Mazzio about her career.

KCRA-TV reports on A Most Beautiful Thing and Dante A. Ciampaglia of The Elective talks with Arshay Cooper about the book and film. 

Executive Producer, Chaz Ebert, on the film: 

Chris Burns of ARCH covers FILA’s partnership with A Most Beautiful Thing.

Forbes features the release of A Most Beautiful Thing on Amazon Prime. 

The New York Post‘s Page Six covers Arshay Cooper’s appearance on “Good Day New York.”

The Mayor of Terre Haute, Indiana declares March 13, 2020 “Arshay Cooper Day.” Also featured in the Tribune-Star

Lana Bellamy of the Times Herald-Record profiles Arshay Cooper and explores the influence of rowing on underserved youth in the City of Newburgh, NY. 

“honest and optimistic at the same time.” – Kristina Dorsey, The Day

The Henry Luce Foundation spotlights the film, directed by 1987-88 Luce Scholar Mary Mazzio.

Deadline highlights A Most Beautiful Thing as a Documentary Spotlight at SXSW. 

Streaming Wars selects A Most Beautiful Thing as one of their favorite streaming releases of the week. 

The Palm Beach Post talks with Arshay about how A Most Beautiful Thing can be used as a tool for social change. 

“If you like ‘What the Constitution Means to Me,’ you’ll love… A Most Beautiful Thing…” – Anoush Gomes, Meaww

Michael Romain covers the One Earth Film Festival’s screening of A Most Beautiful Thing in the Austin Weekly News, in partnership with the Parks Foundation and the Park District of Oak Park. (Also here.)

EURweb sat down for an exclusive interview with Arshay Cooper, Marie Mazzio and 7 time NBA All-Star Grant Hill to discuss A Most Beautiful Thing. 

Christian Terry and Vondale Singleton spoke with NBC Chicago regarding the mentoring program, CHAMPS, ahead of their February 13th virtual event with the crew behind A Most Beautiful Thing

University of North Florida includes A Most Beautiful Thing in their top films to watch during Black History Month. 

The Broadview covers Arshay Cooper and Mary Mazzio’s upcoming conversation with Convent of the Sacred Heart High School. 

Lyanne Melendez of ABC 7 News highlights the work of Arshay Cooper and Mike Teti in the Bay Area.

Wilson Morales of Black Film and TV highlights A Most Beautiful Thing in a list of films featuring diverse voices now steaming on Peacock.

Row2k honors Arshay and the inaugural year of the A Most Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund. 

The Expresso Show sits down with Arshay Cooper to discuss his story and his motivation to spread awareness for the power of rowing in South Africa. 


From matt-24001: “As a 45 year old white male from Indianapolis who’s visited Chicago countless times, I was in utter disbelief of the cycle of violence these men and their community has endured. While watching this documentary, everything that I’ve seen from Ferguson to George Floyd to the BLM movement suddenly made sense. Can I relate? Absolutely not, but I was finally able to ‘understand’ the pure injustice faced in the daily lives of African Americans in America. It was shocking to see the life and death decisions forced upon young African Americans, particularly males, in Chicago and for all intents and purposes, across the nation. I am far from sheltered or naive and have done my best to educate myself on social injustice domestically and globally, but for some reason, this documentary shattered my perceptions. For those people still debating the validity of racism in America, it’s time for a wake up call and this film will do the trick. The statistics alone are astonishing, but the strength and determination of these men and their families is almost unfathomable. Add the fact that the film itself is exceptionally well done from a production and direction perspective. This documentary should be a mandatory watch for everyone in America especially in 2020. Thank you to these young men brave enough to accomplish what they have and live to tell their story.”

From @jaiathomas: “I’ve been watching #SXSW screeners today and “A Most Beautiful Thing” is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.”

From @NewBlackMan: “Finally had the chance to check out #AMostBeautifulThing; what a wonderful portrait of Black survival and transcendence”

“After watching this film, it wouldn’t surprise me—and I have a little bit of experience in this regard—it wouldn’t surprise me if you were nominated for an Academy Award… It’s that good in my opinion.” – Ron Stallworth, author of Black Klansman 

From The Christian Science Monitor Managing Editor @AmeliaNewcomb: “excellent”

From OBE @berniehollywood: “I’ve just watched @AMBTfilm movie & was quite literally blown away 5.”

“What a wonderful review [“This Old Crew Still Has the Right Stuff” by Kevin Crust, Aug. 4] of ‘A Most Beautiful Thing,’ a movie whose theme is the hard bond which develops among men through hard work and common goals. The sport of four-man crew demands an individual give his all to better the team. Everyone must work in perfect unison to move the shell forward in a straight line. It is the ultimate team sport.” – David L. McDaniel in a published letter to the Los Angeles Times


For Press

Press Advisory

Mary Mazzio Bio

Director Statement

Press Book

Manley Team on location in Oakland. © 2019 Richard Schultz. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films
Preston Grandberry on location in Oakland. © 2019 Richard Schultz. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films
Arshay Cooper on location in Oakland. © 2019 Richard Schultz. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films
Malcolm Hawkins on location in Oakland. © 2019 Richard Schultz. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films
Alvin Ross on location in Oakland. © 2019 Richard Schultz. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films
Ray “Pookie” Hawkins on location in Oakland. © 2019 Richard Schultz. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films
Manley Team on location in Oakland. © 2019 Richard Schultz. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films
Mary Mazzio and DP Joe Grasso on location in Chicago. © 2019 Clayton Hauck. Courtesy 50 Eggs Films