When it comes to Black movies, the 1990s are undefeated.
The decade brought some of the most memorable films in Black history.
While the 1980s had Coming to America and the 2000s had Love & Basketball, nothing compares to these ten years.With movies like Malcolm X, Set It Off, and The Best Man on the list, here are the 45 must-watch Black movies of the decade.
House Party (1990)
The 1990 movie House Party is a classic.
The film stars the hip hop duo Kid ‘n Play who star in the movie as two high school students who decide to have a party at one of their houses while his parents are away.
It’s particularly popular for the dance battle scene in the living room.
The film sparked two sequels, and the cast was completed with Robin Harris, Martin Lawrence, and Tisha Campbell.
The Five Heartbeats (1991)
Robert Townsend and Keenan Ivory Wayans collaborated on the 1991 film The Five Heartbeats.
The movie follows a Motown group, The Five Heartbeats, throughout their 30 year career, including their rise and fall.
Townsend stars in the film as one of The Five Heartbeats and he is also joined by Leon Robinson, Michael Wright, Tico Wells, and Harry J. Lennix.
The incomparable Diahann Carroll also starred in the film as the wife of the band’s manager.
Jungle Fever (1991)
Jungle Fever brought interracial dating into Black film with Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra.
The film follows Wesley Snipes’ character, Flipper Purify after he begins having an extramarital affair with his secretary.
It goes over the point on whether interracial relationships are based on love or “jungle fever,” an attraction based on racial myths.
Samuel L. Jackson was particularly praised for his role in the film and was also joined in the cast by writer, director, and producer Spike Lee, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Halle Berry.
Strictly Business (1991)
Strictly Business is the 1991 comedy starring Tommy Davidson, Joseph C. Phillips, and Halle Berry.
The film follows Tommy Davidson’s character Bobby as he tries to set up a real estate executive with a club promoter.
This is just one of the many ‘90s movies that features an ensemble cast.
The film also stars Anne-Marie Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kim Coles.
Boyz N The Hood (1991)
Writer and Director John Singleton had a number of popular films in the ‘90s, but this might be one of the more critically acclaimed ones.
The 1991 film Boyz n the Hood helped launch the careers of many of the film’s actors.
The story begins with and devolves after a young man is sent to live in South Central Los Angeles with his father.
At the center of the film was Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, and Larry (Laurence) Fishburne.
Another film set with an ensemble cast, Angela Bassett, Nia Long, and Regina King co-star.
New Jack City (1991)
One of the more ruthless crime films of the 1990s, New Jack City starred Wesley Snipes as Nino Brown.
Set in New York City during the crack epidemic, an undercover cop infiltrates Nino’s gang to take them down from within.
Ice-T stars as Scotty Appleton, the undercover cop and is joined in the cast by Allen Payne and Chris Rock.
White Men Can’t Jump (1991)
Wesley Snipes was in high demand in the early 1990s.
Already in his third film on this list, he stars in the 1992 film White Men Can’t Jump alongside Woody Harrelson.
The duo are two basketball hustlers who benefit from the fact that many believe that white men can’t play basketball well.
The film also stars Rosie Perez, Tyra Ferrell, and Duane Martin.
Bebe’s Kids (1991)
The 1992 animated comedy was created by Robin Harris, who also starred in the film House Party.
The film follows a man as he meets an attractive woman and is soon introduced to the world of her best friend’s out of control children.
Robin Harris died two years before the movie was released, and his character was voiced by Faizon Love.
Other actors and actresses who provided voice overs for the film are Vanessa Bell Calloway, Marques Houston, and John Witherspoon.
After his success with the 1989 film Coming to America, Eddie Murphy stars in the 1992 romantic comedy Boomerang.
An executive at an advertising firm, he is very clearly a male chauvinist and a serial dater.
Redemption comes in the form of a new boss, played by Robin Givens, who ends up treating him the same way he treated others.
Another popular ensemble cast, the film also stars Halle Berry, David Alan Grier, Martin Lawrence, Grace Jones, and Eartha Kitt.
Malcolm X (1992)
In 1992, Spike Lee decided to bring The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X alive.
The film stars Denzel Washington who portrays the activist throughout his life.
He is also joined by Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, and Delroy Lindo.
The movie was critically acclaimed and so was Washington’s performance – so much so that he received a nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
You got the juice!
Released in 1992, Juice follows the story of four friends as they navigate through living in Harlem in the early 1990s.
The film stars Omar Epps, Tupac Shakur, Jermaine Hopkins and Khalil Kain as the four friends whose friendship begins to devolve after an incident.
The film also has appearances from Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah, and Flex Alexander.
Class Act (1992)
In 1991, hip hop duo Kid ‘n’ Play teamed up for another film Class Act.
It is meant to be a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper, a novel by Mark Twain.
The film follows two young men, both seemingly from different sides of life, and how they can benefit from using each other.
This was the third film that Kid ‘n’ Play shot together and the movie also stars Karyn Parson, Thomas Mikal Ford, and Loretta Devine.
Sister Act (1992)
Let’s just say that Whoopi Goldberg carried this movie on her own.
In 1992, she starred in the musical comedy Sister Act.
While working as a lounge singer, she is forced to go into Witness Protection as a nun in a convent.
The film was massively successful and would spark the 1993 sequel also starring Lauryn Hill.
What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993)
Many of us know about the life of Tina Turner, but you can watch it happen in the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It.
The film was adapted from the book I, Tina that was written by Tina Turner and editor Kurt Loder.
The movie stars Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as Tina and Ike Turner, respectively.
Based on the title of one of her biggest hits, the film was critically acclaimed and Angela Bassett won a Golden Globe for her portrayal.
CB4 is the 1993 comedy film starring Chris Rock and Allen Payne.
The film is about a fictional rap group that forms while the members are in prison (or Cell Block 4).
And while we know that Chris Rock does all things funny, the film is mostly a parody of gangsta rap.
The film even features appearances from gangsta rappers from NWA Ice Cube and Eazy-E.
You’ll also see appearances from Halle Berry, ICe-T, and Shaquille O’Neal.
Poetic Justice (1993)
Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur team up for the 1993 romantic film Poetic Justice.
The film follows a young woman who deals with the tragedy of her life through poetry.
Along the way, she meets Lucky (Shakur) and the two develop a budding romance.
Not only were Jackson and Shakur celebrated for their chemistry, but you also can’t beat the Maya Angelou poems featured in the film.
Menace II Society (1993)
Probably one of the most popular 1990s Black films, Menace II Society stars Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, and Jada Pinkett.
It follows the story of a young man, who after a life of living in the projects decides that he wants to better himself and his daughter.
The film receives tons of positive responses especially for the accurate portrayal of what life was like for many living in the projects.
Cool Runnings (1993)
Loosely based on Jamaica’s national bobsleigh team, the 1993 movie Cool Runnings follows their debut at the Olympics.
Starring Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, and Malik Yoba, the film follows a group of athletes who join forces with the hopes of making it to the ceremonies.
While there were quite a few differences from the film and real life, the movie received many positive reviews for its perfect blend of comedy and sports.
Above The Rim (1994)
Above the Rim is another popular ensemble move from the ‘90s.
A sports drama, it follows a young basketball player who wants to be recruited by Georgetown.
He later gets tangled with a local gang who attempts to force him to throw a basketball game in their favor.
The film stars Duane Martin alongside Leon Robinson, Tupac Shakur, Marlon Wayans, and Bernie Mac.
Jason’s Lyric (1994)
Allen Payne and Jada Pinkett star in the 1994 film Jason’s Lyric.
The film follows a young man who, having thoughts about a better life, meets his match in a woman.
It continues as he tries to protect his ex-con brother from gang life, a life his girlfriend also happens to be entangled with.Jason’s Lyric also stars Bokeem Woodbine, rapper Treach, Eddie Griffin, and Forest Whitaker.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Following its debut at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, the sports documentary Hoop Dreams would go on to be considered one of the best documentaries of all time.
While it started out as a segment for PBS, it would lead to filming over five years.
It followed to Black high school students in Chicago who wanted to go to the NBA.
The film tackles race, class, and education as these two Black youths from poor neighborhoods attend a predominantly white high school.
Bad Boys (1995)
In 1995, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith began the franchise.
We were introduced to their characters, Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey, two Miami PD detectives who were investigating narcotics stolen from their police department.
The film would lead to two sequels, Bad Boys II which was released in 2003 and the latest in the franchise, Bad Boys for Life which was released in 2020.
When it comes to funny movies, Friday always falls at the top of the list.
I mean, what do you expect from Chris Tucker?
The movie stars Tucker and Ice Cube as two unemployed best friends who have a deal to pay a local drug dealer on a Friday night.
The film also stars Nia Long, Tiny “Zeus” Lister Jr, Regina King, Bernie Mac, and John Witherspoon.
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
Based on the 1992 novel by Terry MCMillan, Waiting to Exhale is the 1995 romance film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett.
And while he didn’t star in the film, it would be Forest Whitaker’s first time working as a director.
The film also starred Loretta Devin and Lela Rochon, both rounding out the foursome of friends.
With the music being composed by Babyface, the soundtrack featured a number of songs by R&B icons including Whitney Houston herself as well as Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, and Brandy.
Higher Learning (1995)
Higher Learning is the 1995 John Singleton film about the lives of three incoming college freshmen.
The film deals with racism on their college campus.
With an ensemble cast, the film stars Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, and Michael Rapaport.
It also includes appearances by Ice Cube, Tyra Banks, Regina King, Busta Rhymes, and Laurence Fishburne.
Dead Presidents (1995)
Dead Presidents is the 1995 crime film starring Larenz Tate, Keith David, and Chris Tucker.
The film follows Anthony Curtis (Tate) following his high school graduation and into his time in the Army during the Vietnam War.
After, he returns home where he finds it hard to support his family, and this struggle eventually leads him into armed robbery.
Based on the story of real war veterans, it was made to show the plight of Black veterans after their return home from the war.
Set It Off (1996)
One of the classics, Set It Off features the ensemble cast of Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, and Vivica A. Fox.
This film would be the debut of actress Kimberly Elise who we would see go on to star in a number of other films.
Set It Off follows a group of four friends who decide to rob a bank in order to make money and hopefully provide a better life for themselves and their family.
A Thin Line Between Love & Hate (1996)
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and this movie proves it!
The 1996 film A Thin Line Between Love and Hate was co-written and directed by Martin Lawrence, who also stars in the film as Darnell Wright.
After setting out to woo a woman, he is met by her “crazy” side when he breaks it off with her after having slept with her.
Lynn Whitfield stars opposite Lawrence and let’s just say, her performance is spectacular.
The film also stars Regina King and Bobby Brown.
The Nutty Professor (1996)
Back in another popular ‘90s movie, Eddie Murphy stars in the 1996 film The Nutty Professor.
The film follows a professor, Sherman Klump, a kind and sweet research scientist who is obese.
He is able to develop a weight-loss drug that transforms him into a slimmer, but evil version of himself named “Buddy Love.”
Eddie Murphy received high praises for his film, especially in his role as seven characters in the film.
The film also stars Jada Pinkett and Dave Chappelle.
The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
The Preacher’s Wife is the 1996 “dramedy” that you’ll often catch around the holidays.
A remake of the 1947 film, it stars Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston as well as Courtney B. Vance.
The film follows a couple who is visited by an angel to help them through their issues with their struggling church.
The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, which makes sense because the movie soundtrack is the best-selling gospel album of all time!
Gregory Hines, Jenifer Lewis, Loretta Devine, and Lione Richie round out the cast.
Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood (1996)
If you want the perfect parody of some of the best 90s movies, you’ll need to watch Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.
If you can’t tell from the name, it parodies the movies: Menace II Society, South Central, Juice, and Boyz n the Hood.
While these films come up in the name, you’ll find the plot also uses the films Above the Rim, Dead Presidents, Do the Right Thing, Friday, Juice, Jungle Fever, New Jack City, and more throughout the film.
Produced by their brother Keenan Ivory Wayans, the film stars Shawn and Marlon Wayans.
Eve’s Bayou (1997)
Eve’s Bayou is the 1997 drama starring Lynn Whitfield.
The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson who served as one of the executive producers.
The story takes place in Louisiana and devolves after a young girl sees her father having an affair and cheating on her mother.
Jurnee Smollett, Meagan Good, and Diahann Carroll also star in the film.
Love Jones (1997)
If anyone were to name some of the most loved films of Black culture, Love Jones would almost always fall on that list.
Starring Larenz Tate and Nia Long, the film follows two young creatives living in Chicago who try to navigate between having sex and falling in love.
While it might’ve not done well theatrically, it’s a cult classic.
Isaiah Washington, Lisa Nicole Carson, and Bill Bellamy round out the cast.
Soul Food (1997)
If you want one of the best ensemble casts, you’ll need to watch the 1997 film Soul Food.
The film follows a family who begin to have pressing issues with each other after their matriarch passes away.
Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, and Nia Long star as three sisters all with different relationships that affect their relationship with each other.
The film also starred Michael Beach and Mekhi Phifer.
While this is far from Halle Berry’s best role in a movie, it’s still a must-see.
B.A.P.S. stars Berry and Natalie Desselle as two waitresses who want to open up a business that doubles as both a soul food restaurant and a hair salon.
The name for the film comes from “Black American Princesses.”
Booty Call (1997)
If you want to laugh, you can do it with the 1997 film Booty Call starring Tommy Davidson and Jamie Foxx.
The film follows two friends who end up hitting it off with another duo of female friends.
Davidson’s and Foxx’s characters spend the film looking for “protection” so they can fulfill their booty calls.
The film also stars Vivica A. Fox and Tamala Jones.
This is where hip hop meets Hollywood.
The 1998 crime drama stars rappers DMX and Nas.
Belly follows two criminals who make their money from the streets.
As with most film conflicts, while one wants to give up the life of crime, the other usually wants to delve deeper into it.
Clearly with a musically inclined cast, the film also stars Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins from TLC and Method Man.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
If I’m being honest with myself, this movie grinds my gears, but I have to admit it’s a classic.
The film stars Angela Bassett as a 40 year old woman who finds love with a 20 year old while on vacation in Jamaica.
With Taye Diggs starring as her love interest, this movie served as his film debut.
While the man looked great, I can’t help but cringe every time I hear his Jamaican accent.
The film also stars Whoopi Goldberg and Regina King.
The Players Club (1998)
Get ready for the ensemble cast of The Players Club with LisaRaye, Bernie Mac, Ice Cube, Jamie Fox, John Amos, Michael Clarke Duncan, Terrence Howard, Charlie Murphy, and Big Boy.
The film follows a young woman who turns to stripping at “The Players Club” to make ends meet.
Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)
The 1998 movie Why Do Fools Fall In Love tells the story of real life singer Frankie Lymon.
Starring Larenz Tate as Lymon, the film follows three women, played by Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, and Lela Rochon, who all claim to be his wife with claims to his estate.
The film also stars Little Richard who plays himself.
He Got Game (1998)
Written, produced, and directed by Spike Lee, the film He Got Game stars Denzel Washington and Ray Allen.
The film stars Denzel Washington as Jake Shuttlesworth, the father of a talented basketball player.
In prison for killing his wife, Jake is tasked with convincing his son to commit to the governor’s alma mater for a reduced prison sentence.
He is even released on parole for a week to make it happen.
The Best Man (1999)
The Best Man is one of the more beloved Black films especially because of its ensemble cast.
The movie stars Taye Diggs and Nia Long, but the cast is rounded out with popular names that include Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, and Sanaa Lathan.
This film also served to act as the movie debut for Regina Hall.
Very well received, the film’s sequel The Best Man Holiday was released in 2013 with the entire cast reprising their roles.
If you’re looking to laugh, why not do it with some of the best comics around.
The 1999 movie Life teams up Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, reuniting them after they both starred in the 1992 film Boomerang.
The film follows both men who are convicted of a murder they didn’t commit and sentenced to life in prison.
This film isn’t short on the number of big names that appear in the film.
Bernie Mac, Anthony Anderson, Sanaa Lathan, Rick James, and Heavy D all make appearances in this film.
The Wood (1999)
If you’re up for seeing attractive Black men, as I always am, in a movie, be sure to watch the 1999 film The Wood.
Starring Taye Diggs, Omar Epps, and Richard T. Jones, the film follows three friends from their time as teenagers living in Inglewood, California.
The movie flashes back and forth between present day where one of the three friends is getting married and the past.
The film also stars Sanaa Lathan and Lisa Raye.
In Too Deep (1999)
Rounding out the top ‘90s Black movies is In Too Deep.
With another appearance by Omar Epps, he is joined in the cast by LL Cool J, Hill Harper, Pam Grier, and Nia Long.
Omar Epps stars as Jeffrey Cole, an undercover cop who wants to prove himself by infiltrating a drug dealer’s drug trafficking ring.
LL Cool J stars as God, the drug kingpin who is supposedly so powerful and ruthless that they give him that nickname.
The film continues as Omar Epps’ character gets “in too deep” with the gang and starts to show signs that he’s devolving into a willing participant in the drug trade.
Top 90s Black Movies Conclusion
And there you have it.
These were the top Black movies of the decade, most of them forever living on the list of best Black movies of all time.
And plus, we have to give it up for the actors and actresses that made these films what they are.
Without actors like Regina King, Nia Long, Omar Epps and others, it’s hard to imagine what those 10 years of film would’ve been like.