When it comes to film, there are numerous great black movies that you can’t go your life without seeing.
If not, you risk getting your black card revoked.
While it seems like some of our favorite black movies always get slighted during award season, we’re always ready to show them love.
If you’re trying to make sure you’ve seen all the greats and must-haves, these are the black Hollywood films you need to watch from old to new.
Coming To America
Coming to America is one of the greatest classics of Black film.
Written by the actor, Eddie Murphy plays Prince Akeem Joffer, a man who moves to New York City with the hopes of finding a wife.
The film largely follows his “adventure” as he drops all his riches and tries to assimilate to regular life.
The film has an amazing cast rounded out by Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, and John Amos.
Originally released in 1988, there are talks of a remake for the film.
Boyz N The Hood, A Classic Black Hood Movie
What would Black film be without our classic hood dramas?
When it comes to films that are a must for the black community, you’ll always find Boyz N the Hood on the list.
Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut, the film follows a young boy who is sent to line in the tough area of South Central Los Angeles.
The film was directed by the late, great John Singleton who was well-known for his hood films including Higher Learning, Baby Boy, and Poetic Justice, the latter of which is on this list.
Whoever said musical artists couldn’t be actors as well?
No one who’s seen Poetic Justice, that’s for sure.
This ‘90s romance was released in 1993 and followed the love story of two young adults.
With the late Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson starring, this is a captivating story.
Not to mention Janet and Tupac’s chemistry was on point!
Throughout the film, Janet’s character Justice recites poems by Maya Angelou and Tupac’s character Lucky aptly has wishes of being a musical artist.
Love Jones, A Top Black Romance Movie
One of the most iconic romance movies of all time, Love Jones will always have a special place in our hearts.
Nina and Darius’s love story might’ve been a bit unconventional, but the movie will always get us in our feelings.
Starring Nia Long and Larenz Tate, the film follows a photographer and poet who meet and it’s instant sparks.
While some parts (or many) of their relationship might’ve been problematic, it’s clear that the chemistry between the two was unbeatable.
As amazing as this movie is, we’ll always feel some type of way about the conclusion of Darius and Nina’s relationship.
Set It Off
We’re all for movies led by strong female casts, and that’s exactly what we get with Set It Off.
Starring Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Kimberly Elise, the movie is about four friends, who after coming down on hard times, decide to rob a bank.
The film follows their plans and the immediate aftermath of their robbery.
Be prepared because everyone doesn’t make it to the end of this film!
While they all wanted a better life, their plan wasn’t foolproof.
Regardless of how the characters turned out, there’s one thing for sure – the cast was really ready to set it off.
The Color Purple
Is there any film more iconic than The Color Purple?
Based on the novel by Alice Walker that came out three years prior, this story was transformed by actors and actresses like Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah.
This film is a coming-of-age for a young girl, Celie, played by Whoopi Goldberg.
It follows her life as a young girl through adulthood.
And while Celie is excessively meek in the beginning, her character finds her voice and strength as the story continues.
The film earned Whoopi Goldberg a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama.
Lean On Me
Fair Eastside… FAIR EASTSIDE. If you know, you know!
Lean On Me was another iconic movie of the late ‘80s.
The film is based on the true life of former New Jersey principal, Joe Clark, and how he managed to transform his school through improving his students mentality and scores on NJ standardized testing.
Titled after the Bill Wither’s song, one can hear “Lean On Me” as well as the songs alma mater throughout the film.
And if you didn’t already know, the film stars the talented Morgan Freeman as Joe Clark.
Waiting To Exhale, A Black Film Focusing On Sisterhood
We love to see women at the forefront of movies, and Waiting to Exhale is another film where we get to see an ensemble of talented black women leading the bill.
The movie follows four friends who are trying to navigate through the men in their lives.
Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon at the center of this film.
While this film has a few iconic moments, nothing compares to the scene of Angela Bassett burning her ex’s car and clothes.
Now, John, they done told you not to mess with her!
The film was nominated for numerous awards at the NAACP Image Awards with Bassett and Loretta Devine taking home Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
Menace II Society, A Personal Favorite Hood Film
Another hood classic, Menace II Society stars Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Popularly directed by The Hughes Brothers, the film follows the character Caine who has dreams of bettering himself.
Even with these dreams, he always takes the wrong path alongside his friend O-Dog.
Eventually, Caine’s actions catch up to him.
Do The Right Thing
Can you say jack of all trades? In 1989, Spike Lee directed, produced, wrote, and starred in the film Do the Right Thing.
He was joined by actors and actresses Danniel Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancardlo Esposito, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Before Martin Lawrence came on the Hollywood scene, this was his first appearance in a film alongside Rosie Perez.
Taking place in Brooklyn, the film followed a Mookie, a young delivery man during a long, hot summer.
Love & Basketball
All’s fair in Love & Basketball.
Another popular romance film of the ‘90s, this sports drama stars Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan.
This movie had all of us in our feelings back in the day!
It is a coming-of-age romance for two people who start off as friends in their younger age.
It follows Monica and Quincy, Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps, respectively, who both have dreams of playing professional basketball.
While they start as friends who are playing for championships, they eventually begin playing for each other’s hearts.
The Black Movie You Won’t Want To Miss: The Best Man
One of the most popular black films of the late ‘90s, The Best Man has one of the best ensemble casts we’ve ever seen.
The names alone make the movie worth watching.
Starring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, and Sanna Lathan, the movie follows a group of friends who are getting ready for two of their friends to marry each other.
The film finally got a long-deserved sequel in 2013 when The Best Man Holiday was released in November.
Tupac was definitely doing his thing in the ‘90s.
Not only was he making waves on the music scene, but he was also leading numerous classic black films.
Another movie on his roster is Juice.
Also starring Omar Epps, Jermaine Hopkins and Khalil Khan, the film follows a group of friends as they face their everyday lives growing up in Harlem.
While the story is unforgettable, it’s hard not to mention the ruthlessness of Tupac’s character, Bishop.
If you’ve never seen it, you’ll have to watch to see what we mean!
Everyone’s family has their own drama, and Soul Food is one film that definitely shows that.
Another film that has an all-star ensemble, you’ll see Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Mekhi Phifer, and Michael Beach star.
The story follows young Ahmad and the issues his family goes through during their weekly soul food Sunday dinners.
While there are major rifts in the family, the family has to fall a part before they can come back together.
And then there’s the question of where is Big Mama keeping that money?!
New Jack City
Talk about ruthless! Wesley Snipe’s character, Nino Brown, in New Jack City might be one of the most ruthless we’ve ever seen.
New Jack City came out in 1991 and alongside Snipes, Ice-T and Chris Rock starred in the film.
It followed an NYPD officer (Ice-T) who was attempting to infiltrate a drug ring led by Nino Brown.
With Nino leading the Cash Money Brothers, Allen Payne also starred as his right-hand man.
Dream Girls Is A More Modern Black Movie
“We are dreamgirls, boy, we’ll make you happy!” Let’s just say this movie has all the jams.
Loosely based on the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Dreamgirls stars Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, and Anika Noni Rose.
The film follows three singers to try to make it in the Motown industry.
Jennifer Hudson received raving reviews on her performance as Effie so much so that she too home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Friday, An African American Trilogy
“Bye, Felicia!” Friday is another classic film that most would categorize as a “stoner film.”
Well, when Craig and Smokey spent all their time smoking, what do you expect?
The film follows two friends in the span of a day who owe a debt to a local drug dealer.
The film follows their antics of trying to scrape the money together.
Alongside Ice Cube and Chris Tucker who star as Craig and Smokey, respectively, the film also stars Nia Long, Regina King, Bernie Mac, and John Witherspoon.
Ain’t gon’ hurt nobody. What were the ‘90s without Kid ‘n Play?
Essentially the movie follows the title. Two friends decide to throw a house party and let’s just say, a lot goes down.
And who could forget the epic dance battle?
Kid ‘n Play are joined by members of the group Full Force as well as Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, and John Witherspoon.
Think Like A Man
Based on the Steve Harvey book, Think Like a Man was released in 2012.
It followed a series of different relationships while giving advice about the scenario each couple found themselves in.
With another popular ensemble cast, the film stars Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Gabielle Union, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Hart, Terrence J, and Regina Hall.
With all the antics the couples were going through during the first film, it’s only right that we got a sequel which was released in 2014.
Why Did I Get Married
Tyler Perry is well known for his plays, and Why Did I Get Married is just one of the many that can be added to the list of successful ones.
Why Did I Get Married? focuses on a group of four couples who are having relationship troubles.
With Tyler Perry having both written, produced, and directed the film, he also starred alongside Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Malik yoba, Sharon Leal, Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White, and Richard T. Jones.
Let’s just say that these couples truly had issues, many of which branched into the sequel, Why Did I Get Married, Too?
Black Panther, A Black Superhero Film
Wakanda, forever! The superhero film Black Panther is a revolutionary film in black history for two reasons.
Originally based on the comic book character created by Stan Lee, the film stars a predominantly black cast – a first for a Marvel Universe film.
Starring Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther, the film is one of the highest grossing films of all-time!
It follows a young king who acts to protect his country after his father’s death.
Boseman is joined by Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright as a black female superhero, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker.
Moonlight is another revolutionary film for different reasons.
Starring Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, and Mahershala Ali, the film explores LGBTQ issues in the black community.
The film is a coming-of-age for a young black boy who struggles with his sexuality as he grows up in the hood.
Moonlight took home Oscars for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay with Mahershala Ali taking home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Malcolm X, A Moving African American Film
Go, Denzel! Malcolm X is one biographical film we can get behind!
Starring Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett, the film follows the life of the film’s namesake.
From his young adulthood to the time of his assassination, you can watch some of the more dramatic and life-changing events of his life.
Denzel Washington of course was praised for his portrayal and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
23 Black Movies You Really Need to Watch Conclusion
These are just some of the black films that are a must-watch. Truth be told, there are so many more!
There’s Roots, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, School Daze, BAPS, Players Club, and even more!
We could spend our entire day listing some of the amazing movies part of Black culture, but if you’re getting ready to start, this list is exactly what you need.
So grab some popcorn, a drink, and get to binge-watching!
If you’re looking to fall in love and are just looking for romance films, check out these movies now.