'Luce' movie 2019 still

Octavia Spencer, left, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Naomi Watts share a scene in 'Luce.' The drama begins streaming in late January on Hulu.

Last year was a good one for New Orleans-born Kelvin Harrison Jr.

At 25 years old, the actor had already appeared in movies like "Mudbound" and "It Comes at Night." In 2019, his career catapulted with the releases "Waves" and "Luce." 

In the latter drama, which begins streaming on Jan. 27 on Hulu, Harrison Jr. plays a high school senior named Luce. With a name that literally means "light," Luce can smile his way through anything. He was adopted from a war-torn country and has grown into the example of a student-athlete. However, there's something off. Only a history teacher named Harriet Wilson (played by Octavia Spencer) questions Luce's authenticity and decisions.

Adapted from J.C. Lee's play, "Luce" is like watching a teapot full of fireworks boil over. As Wilson questions Luce's actions, the all-star student becomes suspect No. 1 as his teacher's reputation plummets. Who would believe the teacher over Luce? Not even Luce's parents (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) know what to think.

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Like John Patrick Shanley's play/movie "Doubt," "Luce" never reveals any answers. Instead, the movie is clouded with mystery. That "Luce" can keep us wondering is credit to the cast's commitment to the material. While wrapped up in that suspense, "Luce" also touches on themes of privilege, white guilt and how older generations throw their problems onto younger people.

At the center of it is Harrison Jr. How the actor manages each side of Luce's personality, how Luce turns on for certain people — it's scary how good this performance is.

By the end of it, even I wasn't sure who did what and when. I was sure of one thing, though — Harrison Jr. is an actor we'll be seeing a lot of in the years to come.

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On Amazon: “American Dreamer,” “Amores Perros," “Midnight Sun,” “Midsommar," "The Wedding Year," "Troop Zero," "The Prodigy," available now; "Fighting with My Family," available Jan. 30.

On Disney+: "Aladdin (2019)," "Cool Runnings," "Holes," available now.

On HBO: "The Aftermath," "American Animals," “Breakthrough,” “Fast Five,” “The Little Stranger,” “Shutter Island," “Tolkien,” “Teeth," "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum," “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” available now; “The Curse of La Llorona,” available Jan. 25.

On Hulu: "The Art of Self Defense," "Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins," “Life, Animated,” "Honeyland," “The Prodigy,” available now; "Brian Banks," available Jan. 27; “Fighting with My Family,” available Jan. 30.

On Netflix: “Cheer,” “The Evil Dead (1981),” “Inception,” “Julie & Julia,” "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze," "Tremors," "Betty White: First Lady of Television," “Tyler Perry’s A Fall from Grace,” “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak," available now.