Spanning everything from a portrait of Barack Obama in his youth to the rise of the Black Power movement in the s, these films are sure broaden your black film vocabulary: Netflix 3 "Fruitvale Station" Ryan Coogler's powerful directorial debut tells the true story of the last day in the life of Oscar Grant. Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, was a year-old black man who was shot and killed by Bay Area police in in a shocking display of brutality that went viral on YouTube.
Netflix 4 "Mama Africa" In her decades-spanning career, Miriam Makeba became not only the most popular African singer in the world, but also the voice of the South African battle against apartheid. This comprehensive biographical documentary chronicles her humble beginnings, her artistry, her activism, and her subsequent exile from South Africa.
Netflix 5 "Tangerine" Shot entirely on an iPhone 5s, "Tangerine" is one of the most important films exploring the black experience to come out in the last 20 years. The film focuses on two black trans woman sex workers as they navigate their complicated friendship and the everyday realities of survival. Netflix 6 "The Black Power Mixtape " This stellar documentary consists of rare footage of people who were on the ground and active during the height of the Black Power movement. Based entirely from archives from Swedish filmmakers in the '60s and '70s, the film offers a unique glimpse into a seminal era in black history.
Netflix 7 "Barry" "Barry" is one of two drama films of what will surely be many that take a glimpse at the life of a younger Barack Obama, the man who would one day become the first black president of the United States. Set during his days at Columbia, before he met Michelle Obama, the film is an exploration of young Barry coming to terms with his race and identity.
Netflix 8 "13th" No black history movie list would be complete without Ava DuVernay's most recent film, "13th. The sweeping tale featuring an iconic performance by Denzel Washington offered an alternative, comprehensive and deeply compelling narrative of the life of the civil rights hero.
Through the use of archival footage and interviews with the people who knew her best, the film seeks to unravel the genius that made Simone so unique, and that ultimately destroyed her.
Netflix 11 "Selma" Ava DuVernay made history with "Selma" in , becoming the first black woman to have her film nominated for "Best Picture" at the Oscars. Martin Luther King as he led the march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights. Amazon 12 "Pariah" 13 "Belle" From British director Amma Asante, this period drama tells the real-life story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race woman and the daughter of a slave who grew up in the British aristocracy during the height of the slave trade.
Denzel Washington stars in the role that would nab him his first Oscar. Jackson, and a young Jurnee Smollet. It's a Southern Gothic drama about a black family in s New Orleans that is shaken to its core when hidden secrets finally come to light. It's a film about one black family's quest for the American Dream -- and what happens when that dream is deferred.
YouTube 20 "The Princess and the Frog" Though flawed, this Disney animated film features not only some beautiful artwork and great original songs -- it also has the first African-American Disney princess ever, voiced by the talented Anika Noni-Rose.
YouTube 21 "Crooklyn" There are so few coming-of-age movies about young black girls, which makes Spike Lee's "Crooklyn" such a vital part of black movie history. Starring Zelda Harris and Alfre Woodard, the film is set in the s and follows the young tomboy Troy Harris during her both idyllic and difficult childhood in Brooklyn.
Amazon 23 "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" This documentary from Spike Lee presented the first truly in-depth look into the human rights disaster that developed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The mismanagement and disregard of government officials is juxtaposed in stark contrast with the devastation endured by the mostly poor, black residents of New Orleans.
YouTube 24 "Within Our Gates" Before there was Spike Lee there was Oscar Micheaux, a prolific black director who in the s made a series of seminal "race films" starring all black casts. Tackling the daily horrors of Jim Crow including lynching and rape, "Within Our Gates" is perhaps Micheaux's most important movie.
It's a striking cinematic answer to the racist imagery of D. W Griffith's wildly popular "Birth of a Nation" that every film buff should see. Starring Diana Ross and a young Michael Jackson, this movie serves up a "black" version of the classic Wizard of Oz story.