Film 101: Introduction to African American Cinema

by dnesmith09 | created - 13 Mar 2012 | updated - 09 Feb 2016 | Public

This list is divide like a syllabus to explain various periods,style and genres of black or African American cinema in a more comprehensive list for those who want to jump in or those who want to add some variety to the usual African American imagery of the screen. To learn more, check out the blog "Shadow & Act" on Indiewire

Part 1: Early Cinema (Micheaux & 1920s)

Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism (1950s -1960s) Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s)

Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s)

Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s - 2000)

Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s)

Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 - 2014)

Final Chapter: BLERDS in Paradise (Present)

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1. Body and Soul (1925)

Not Rated | 102 min | Drama

6.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A minister is malevolent and sinister behind his righteous facade. He consorts with, and later extorts from, the owner of a gambling house, and betrays an honest girl, eventually driving ... See full summary »

Director: Oscar Micheaux | Stars: Paul Robeson, Marshall Rogers, Lawrence Chenault, Chester A. Alexander

Votes: 531

Key Film in Part 1: Early Cinema (Micheaux & 1920s)

2. Harlem After Midnight (1934)

Drama

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Gangsters in Harlem make plans to commit a kidnapping.

Director: Oscar Micheaux | Stars: Lawrence Chenault, 'Slick' Chester, A.B. DeComathiere, Bee Freeman

Votes: 5

Key Film in Part 1: Early Cinema (Micheaux & 1920s)

3. Show Boat (1936)

Approved | 113 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Despite her mother's objections, the naive young daughter of a show boat captain is thrust into the limelight as the company's new leading lady.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, Charles Winninger, Paul Robeson

Votes: 2,354

Key Film in Part 1: Early Cinema for its notable African American cast members Hattie McDaniel and Paul Robeson

4. Gone with the Wind (1939)

G | 238 min | Drama, History, Romance

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
97 Metascore

A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood | Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil

Votes: 240,243 | Gross: $198.68M

Key Film in Part 1: Early Cinema not for performances but for its depiction of Southern life during the Civil War, its depiction of African Americans in this context now is extremely fictitious but this film will always be known as a classic for its artistry and the historic win for Hattie McDaniel but it water downs the perspective of slaves in the Antebellum South and plantation life.

5. Princesse Tam-Tam (1935)

Not Rated | 77 min | Comedy, Drama

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A French novelist passes off a African shepherdess as a princess.

Director: Edmond T. Gréville | Stars: Josephine Baker, Albert Préjean, Robert Arnoux, Germaine Aussey

Votes: 348

Key Film in Part 1: Early Cinema for Josephine Baker's performance as a African princess brought to the states to make a famous man's wife jealous. Baker was a huge icon in Paris and was able to have freedom not afforded to her in the US.

6. Pinky (1949)

Approved | 102 min | Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A light-skinned African American woman falls in love with a white doctor, though he is unaware of her true race.

Directors: Elia Kazan, John Ford | Stars: Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters, William Lundigan

Votes: 2,158 | Gross: $4.20M

Key Film in Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism (1950s -1960s)

7. Nothing But a Man (1964)

Not Rated | 95 min | Drama, Romance

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
87 Metascore

A proud black man and his school-teacher wife face discriminatory challenges in 1960s America.

Director: Michael Roemer | Stars: Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Julius Harris, Gloria Foster

Votes: 993 | Gross: $0.01M

Key Film in Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism as Ivan Dixon struggles with the injustice of his environment.

8. Dutchman (1966)

55 min | Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A sinister, neurotic white girl Lula, with the provocation of her lovely, half-naked body and of her startlingly lascivious speech, lures to his doom a good-looking young black man Clay, a ... See full summary »

Director: Anthony Harvey | Stars: Shirley Knight, Al Freeman Jr., Frank Lieberman, Robert Calvert

Votes: 316

Key Film in Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism dealing with race and gender stereotypes and ideas from Amiri Barraka, poet and playwright

9. A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

Approved | 128 min | Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A substantial insurance payment could mean either financial salvation or personal ruin for a poor black family.

Director: Daniel Petrie | Stars: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands

Votes: 5,484

Key Film in Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism

10. Carmen Jones (1954)

Approved | 105 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Contemporary version of the Bizet opera, with new lyrics and an African-American cast.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey, Olga James

Votes: 3,672

Key Film in Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism due to the film being the first film with an entirely black cast and leads. Dorothy Dandridge was the next woman to be nominated for an Oscar

11. Black Orpheus (1959)

PG | 100 min | Drama, Fantasy, Music

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
81 Metascore

A retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set during the time of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.

Director: Marcel Camus | Stars: Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn, Lourdes de Oliveira, Léa Garcia

Votes: 7,893

Key Film in Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism as the Greek tragedy is set in Rio

12. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
87 Metascore

There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman

Votes: 97,278 | Gross: $0.09M

Key Film in Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism due to its social commentary on race in a subtlety intriguing genre switch: Horror. Romero's film is the first horror film with an African American lead.

13. Putney Swope (1969)

R | 84 min | Comedy

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Dark satire in which the token black man on the executive board of an advertising firm is accidentally put in charge. Renaming the business "Truth and Soul, Inc.", he replaces the tight ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Downey Sr. | Stars: Arnold Johnson, Stan Gottlieb, Allen Garfield, Archie Russell

Votes: 2,253

Part 2: Civil Rights and New Black Nationalism (1950s -1960s)

14. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)

R | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

5.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.

Director: Melvin Van Peebles | Stars: Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales, John Dullaghan

Votes: 3,695 | Gross: $15.18M

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), Pebble's indie flick kicks off the movement inspiring black audiences to fight their oppressors and stop struggling to survive. Melvin ran out of money making this film and used the money for his STD medication to finish it, originally rated X.

15. Shaft (1971)

R | 100 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Cool black private eye John Shaft is hired by a crime lord to find and retrieve his kidnapped daughter.

Director: Gordon Parks | Stars: Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Charles Cioffi, Christopher St. John

Votes: 13,271

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s)

16. Super Fly (1972)

R | 93 min | Action, Crime, Drama

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The daily routine of cocaine dealer Priest who wants to score one more super deal and retire.

Director: Gordon Parks Jr. | Stars: Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier, Julius Harris

Votes: 4,880

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), the beginning of the black anti-hero

17. The Harder They Come (1972)

R | 120 min | Crime, Drama, Music

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Wishing to become a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man finds himself tied to corrupt record producers and drug pushers.

Director: Perry Henzell | Stars: Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley, Carl Bradshaw, Ras Daniel Hartman

Votes: 4,558

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), Caribbean cross over blaxploitation

18. Cooley High (1975)

PG | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1964, a group of high school friends who live on the Near North Side of Chicago enjoy life to the fullest...parties, hanging out, meeting new friends. Then life changes for two of the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Schultz | Stars: Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris, Cynthia Davis

Votes: 2,381

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s)

19. Claudine (1974)

PG | 92 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In the 1970s Harlem, garbage collector Roop feels intimidated by the idea of dating Claudine who is a single mother of six on welfare.

Director: John Berry | Stars: Diahann Carroll, James Earl Jones, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Tamu Blackwell

Votes: 1,256

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s) for Carroll's Oscar Nomination

20. Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

R | 144 min | Biography, Drama, Music

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The story of the troubled life and career of the legendary Jazz singer, Billie Holiday.

Director: Sidney J. Furie | Stars: Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, James T. Callahan

Votes: 3,101 | Gross: $9.60M

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), Ross' film screen debut and only Oscar nomination. This was also a historic film for the fact it still is the only film with an nomination for screenwriting for a Black Woman : Suzanne DePasse.

21. Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975)

PG | 95 min | Drama, Sport

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A 12-year-old is traumatised by the murder of his friend, a star basketball player.

Director: Joseph Manduke | Stars: Moses Gunn, Rosalind Cash, Bernie Casey, Madge Sinclair

Votes: 631

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s)

22. Sounder (1972)

G | 105 min | Drama, Family

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The oldest son of a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers comes of age in the Depression-era South after his father is imprisoned for stealing food.

Director: Martin Ritt | Stars: Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks, Carmen Mathews

Votes: 2,866

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), this was the second Black film with an African American actress nominee in the same year.

23. Save the Children (1973)

G | 123 min | Documentary, Music

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Documentary about a concert held in Chicago in 1972.

Director: Stan Lathan | Stars: Cannonball Adderley, Jerry Butler, Sammy Davis Jr., Dennis Edwards

Votes: 28

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), this film documents Jesse Jackson's early activism in the African American community with this free concert held at the Black EXPO shot by Stan Lathan, Sanaa Lathan's father.

24. Foxy Brown (1974)

R | 92 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A voluptuous black woman takes a job as a high-class prostitute in order to get revenge on the mobsters who murdered her boyfriend.

Director: Jack Hill | Stars: Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Peter Brown, Terry Carter

Votes: 7,255

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), the female action hero.

25. Cleopatra Jones (1973)

PG | 89 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

5.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

During the 1970s, U.S. Special Agent Cleopatra Jones proves to be an invaluable asset to the local police forces in the war on drugs.

Director: Jack Starrett | Stars: Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Brenda Sykes, Antonio Fargas

Votes: 2,076

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s)

26. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 110 min | Drama

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Story of a black woman in the South who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lives to become a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Director: John Korty | Stars: Cicely Tyson, Eric Brown, Richard Dysart, Joel Fluellen

Votes: 1,417

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s)

27. Roots (1977)

TV-14 | 570 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A dramatization of author Alex Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation.

Stars: LeVar Burton, Todd Bridges, Robert Reed, John Amos

Votes: 13,465

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s) a historic and cultural moment in pop culture and television history from Alex Haley.

28. Which Way Is Up? (1977)

R | 94 min | Comedy

6.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Richard Pryor is playing three different roles here. The first being a poor orange picker named Leroy Jones who gets laid off when by mistake he joins the worker's union during one of their... See full summary »

Director: Michael Schultz | Stars: Richard Pryor, Lonette McKee, Margaret Avery, Morgan Woodward

Votes: 1,211

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), one of two African American remakes of cinema - Wertmuller's Seduction of Mimi

29. The Wiz (1978)

G | 134 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

5.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

An adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" that tries to capture the essence of the African-American experience.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross

Votes: 11,877 | Gross: $21.05M

Key Film in Part 3: Revolution and Blaxploitation (1970s), second of two African American remakes of cinema - Baum's The Wizard of Oz. Michael Jackson's film debut and only performance, was a box office flop but has gone on to cult status.

30. She's Gotta Have It (1986)

R | 84 min | Comedy, Romance

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
79 Metascore

Story of a woman and her three lovers.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee

Votes: 5,763 | Gross: $7.14M

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s) dealing with black sexuality.

31. Paris Is Burning (1990)

R | 71 min | Documentary

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A chronicle of New York's drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Director: Jennie Livingston | Stars: Brooke Xtravaganza, André Christian, Dorian Corey, Paris Duprée

Votes: 6,342 | Gross: $3.78M

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s) first documentary to expose urban gay culture and the subculture of balls which had been around since Langston Hughes.

32. Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

R | 78 min | Comedy

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
74 Metascore

An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood.

Director: Robert Townsend | Stars: Robert Townsend, Craigus R. Johnson, Helen Martin, Starletta DuPois

Votes: 3,098 | Gross: $5.23M

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s)

33. Shaka Zulu (1986– )

300 min | Action, Biography, Drama

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A historical account on the life of the Zulu king Shaka.

Stars: Edward Fox, Robert Powell, Trevor Howard, Fiona Fullerton

Votes: 2,302

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s) on miniseries on African icon and legend produce through Germany and UK

34. Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983 Video)

PG | 13 min | Short, Horror, Music

8.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A night at the movies turns into a nightmare when Michael and his date are attacked by a hoard of bloodthirsty zombies - only a "Thriller" can save them now.

Director: John Landis | Stars: Michael Jackson, Ola Ray, Vincent Price, Cynthia Garris

Votes: 12,778

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s) though not a film, Thriller was the first music video short. Jackson penned the script with John Landis and was also in involved in the editing and distribution of the film. The Library of Congress has placed the music short in the archives along with classic cinema like Gone With The Wind.

35. Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
91 Metascore

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson

Votes: 66,910 | Gross: $27.55M

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s)

36. The Color Purple (1985)

PG-13 | 154 min | Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
78 Metascore

A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery

Votes: 66,504 | Gross: $98.47M

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s) 11 Academy Award Nominations and not one win, the most historic upset in black cinema history but through all that its still one of the most beloved films.

37. Glory (1989)

R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 108,358 | Gross: $26.83M

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s)

38. Looking for Langston (1989)

R | 45 min | Biography, Drama

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A black and white, fantasy-like recreation of high-society gay men during the Harlem Renaissance, with archival footage and photographs intercut with a story. A wake is going on, with ... See full summary »

Director: Isaac Julien | Stars: Ben Ellison, Matthew Baidoo, Akim Mogaji, John Wilson

Votes: 348

39. A Soldier's Story (1984)

PG | 101 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An African American officer investigates a murder in a racially charged situation in World War II.

Director: Norman Jewison | Stars: Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Art Evans, David Alan Grier

Votes: 7,365 | Gross: $21.82M

Key Film in Part 4: Nu Black Awareness and Planet Rock (1980s - 1990s)

40. Boyz n the Hood (1991)

R | 112 min | Crime, Drama

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
76 Metascore

Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and future prospects.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir, Lloyd Avery II

Votes: 104,061 | Gross: $57.50M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000) haunting portray of Urban Life penned by a 25 year old Singleton making his the youngest director ever nominated for an Oscar.

41. Menace II Society (1993)

R | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
76 Metascore

A young street hustler attempts to escape the rigors and temptations of the ghetto in a quest for a better life.

Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes | Stars: Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, June Kyoto Lu, Toshi Toda

Votes: 43,420 | Gross: $27.90M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000)

42. New Jack City (1991)

R | 97 min | Action, Crime, Drama

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
61 Metascore

A crime lord ascends to power and becomes megalomaniacal while a maverick police detective vows to stop him.

Director: Mario Van Peebles | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne, Chris Rock

Votes: 26,303 | Gross: $47.62M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000) the rebirth of the anti-hero: Nino Brown

43. Clockers (1995)

R | 128 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
71 Metascore

Young drug pushers in the projects of Brooklyn live hard dangerous lives, trapped between their drug bosses and the detectives out to stop them.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Harvey Keitel, John Turturro, Delroy Lindo, Mekhi Phifer

Votes: 17,855 | Gross: $13.04M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000)

44. Bulworth (1998)

R | 108 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
75 Metascore

A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.

Director: Warren Beatty | Stars: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Kimberly Deauna Adams, Vinny Argiro

Votes: 23,048 | Gross: $26.53M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000) a serious social commentary on the state of America at that time.

45. Losing Isaiah (1995)

R | 111 min | Drama

6.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The natural and adoptive mothers of a young boy are involved in a bitter, controversial custody battle.

Director: Stephen Gyllenhaal | Stars: Jessica Lange, Halle Berry, David Strathairn, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Votes: 4,775 | Gross: $7.60M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s - 2000)

46. Daughters of the Dust (1991)

TV-PG | 112 min | Drama, History, Romance

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
81 Metascore

Languid look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folk-ways were maintained well into the 20th Century and was one of the last ... See full summary »

Director: Julie Dash | Stars: Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Barbarao, Trula Hoosier

Votes: 1,201 | Gross: $1.64M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s - 2000)

47. Malcolm X (1992)

PG-13 | 202 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
72 Metascore

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee

Votes: 70,088 | Gross: $48.17M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s - 2000)

48. Get on the Bus (1996)

R | 120 min | Drama, History

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A disparate group of African-American men travel by bus to Washington, DC for the Million Man March.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Ossie Davis, Charles S. Dutton, Andre Braugher, Richard Belzer

Votes: 4,355 | Gross: $5.73M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000) follows the historic Million Man March to counsel black men on the state of society.

49. Dead Presidents (1995)

R | 119 min | Action, Crime, Drama

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Vietnam vet adjusts to life after the war while trying to support his family, but the chance of a better life may involve crime and bloodshed.

Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes | Stars: Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker, Freddy Rodríguez

Votes: 16,648 | Gross: $24.20M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000)

50. Jungle Fever (1991)

R | 132 min | Drama, Romance

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Friends and family of a married black architect react in different ways to his affair with an Italian secretary.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Annabella Sciorra, Spike Lee, Ossie Davis

Votes: 14,493 | Gross: $32.48M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000)

51. Higher Learning (1995)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

6.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
54 Metascore

People from all different walks of life, encounter racial tension, rape, responsibility, and the meaning of an education on a university campus.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, Michael Rapaport, Jennifer Connelly

Votes: 15,791 | Gross: $38.29M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000)

52. Amistad (1997)

R | 155 min | Drama, History

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
63 Metascore

In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 61,688 | Gross: $44.18M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000) a graphically vivid and emotional account of the Atlantic slave trade

53. Fresh (1994)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Death and violence anger a 12-year-old drug courier, who sets his employers against each other.

Director: Boaz Yakin | Stars: Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, N'Bushe Wright

Votes: 10,468 | Gross: $8.09M

Key Film in Part 5: Urban Wasteland and Social Discourse (1990s -2000)

54. The Caveman's Valentine (2001)

R | 105 min | Crime, Drama, Music

5.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
44 Metascore

A cave-dwelling man sets out to track down the killer of a homeless boy, and bring him to justice.

Director: Kasi Lemmons | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Colm Feore, Ann Magnuson, Damir Andrei

Votes: 5,854 | Gross: $0.69M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s)

55. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006– )

TV-MA | 255 min | Documentary

8.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

An examination of the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Stars: Darleen Asevedo, Jay Asevedo, Shelton Shakespear Alexander, Lee Arnold

Votes: 3,786

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) Lee's documentation of one of America's most horrific tragedies from various POVs is a cannon of millennial black cinema.

56. Tsotsi (2005)

R | 94 min | Crime, Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
70 Metascore

Six days in the violent life of a young Johannesburg gang leader.

Director: Gavin Hood | Stars: Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Israel Makoe, Terry Pheto

Votes: 25,997 | Gross: $2.91M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s)

57. Our Song (2000)

R | 95 min | Drama

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
77 Metascore

Focusing on the bonding between three girls in Brooklyn's "Jackie Robinson Steppers Marching Band" and the choices the girls face once their high school closes down for asbestos removal.

Director: Jim McKay | Stars: Kerry Washington, Anna Simpson, Melissa Martinez, The Jackie Robinson Steppers Marching Band

Votes: 692 | Gross: $0.25M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s)

58. Bamboozled (2000)

R | 135 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

6.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
50 Metascore

A frustrated African-American TV writer proposes a blackface minstrel show in protest, but to his chagrin it becomes a hit.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Rapaport

Votes: 9,115 | Gross: $2.19M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) Spike's look at the portrayal and comprehension of the black image in media and television.

59. Training Day (2001)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
69 Metascore

On his first day on the job as a Los Angeles narcotics officer, a rookie cop goes beyond a full work day in training within the narcotics division of the LAPD with a rogue detective who isn't what he appears to be.

Director: Antoine Fuqua | Stars: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger

Votes: 333,756 | Gross: $76.63M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s)

60. The Minority (2006)

Not Rated | 84 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young African American, Jake Jackson, is a happy, honest, law-abiding citizen who through many unfortunate events, experiences a full array of prejudices until he captures single-handedly the serial killer, David Fletcher, and his luck changes.

Director: Dwayne Buckle | Stars: Billoah Greene, Carson Grant, Ava Mateova, Bern Cohen

Votes: 79

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) "Modern Day Racism"

61. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

PG-13 | 121 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
79 Metascore

Paul Rusesabagina was a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda.

Director: Terry George | Stars: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, Xolani Mali

Votes: 291,132 | Gross: $23.47M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) "Genocide"

62. Precious (II) (2009)

R | 110 min | Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
79 Metascore

In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Director: Lee Daniels | Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey

Votes: 94,820 | Gross: $47.40M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s), Precious is the first African American film to win the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for its adaptation from Push by Sapphire.

63. The Corner (2000– )

376 min | Crime, Drama

8.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

Chronicles West Baltimore family living in poverty on the front lines of America's drug war.

Stars: T.K. Carter, Khandi Alexander, Sean Nelson, Clarke Peters

Votes: 3,808

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s)

64. Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

R | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
78 Metascore

An illegal Nigerian immigrant discovers the unpalatable side of London life.

Director: Stephen Frears | Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tautou, Sophie Okonedo, Sergi López

Votes: 36,950 | Gross: $8.11M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) "Immigration Policies"

65. Medicine for Melancholy (2008)

Not Rated | 88 min | Drama, Romance

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
63 Metascore

Twenty-four hours in the tentative relationship of two young San Franciscans also dealing with the conundrum of being a minority in a rapidly gentrifying city.

Director: Barry Jenkins | Stars: Wyatt Cenac, Tracey Heggins, Elizabeth Acker, Melissa Bisagni

Votes: 1,619 | Gross: $0.11M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) "Gentrification"

66. Heading South (2005)

Unrated | 108 min | Drama

6.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
73 Metascore

Three female tourists have their eyes opened while visiting the poverty-stricken and dangerous world of 1980s Haiti.

Director: Laurent Cantet | Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young, Louise Portal, Ménothy Cesar

Votes: 2,515 | Gross: $0.90M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) "Sex Tourism"

67. Antwone Fisher (2002)

PG-13 | 120 min | Biography, Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
62 Metascore

Antwone Fisher, a young navy man, is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman. During the course of treatment a painful past is revealed and a new hope begins.

Director: Denzel Washington | Stars: Denzel Washington, Derek Luke, Joy Bryant, Malcolm David Kelley

Votes: 28,710 | Gross: $21.08M

Key Film in Part 6: Millennial Black Cinema (2000s) "Abuse and The Black Male"

68. Le secret de Chanda (2010)

PG-13 | 100 min | Drama

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
65 Metascore

A touching mother-daughter relationship that reflects the modern South Africa.

Director: Oliver Schmitz | Stars: Khomotso Manyaka, Keaobaka Makanyane, Harriet Lenabe, Lerato Mvelase

Votes: 1,218 | Gross: $0.13M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

69. Pariah (I) (2011)

R | 86 min | Drama

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
79 Metascore

A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.

Director: Dee Rees | Stars: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis, Pernell Walker

Votes: 4,851 | Gross: $0.76M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

70. Manderlay (2005)

Not Rated | 139 min | Drama

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
46 Metascore

A story of slavery, set in the southern U.S. in the 1930s.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Isaach De Bankolé, Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe

Votes: 19,926 | Gross: $0.08M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

71. The Limits of Control (2009)

R | 116 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

6.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
41 Metascore

The story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job.

Director: Jim Jarmusch | Stars: Isaach De Bankolé, Alex Descas, Jean-François Stévenin, Óscar Jaenada

Votes: 17,215 | Gross: $0.43M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

72. Desert Flower (2009)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
54 Metascore

The autobiography of a Somalian nomad circumcised at 3, sold in marriage at 13, fled from Africa a while later to become finally an American supermodel and is now at the age of 38, the UN ... See full summary »

Director: Sherry Hormann | Stars: Soraya Omar-Scego, Idriss Abdillahi Houfaneh, Awa Saïd Darar, Roun Daher Aïnan

Votes: 10,168 | Gross: $0.04M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

73. The Redemption of General Butt Naked (2011)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Tells the story of Joshua Milton Blahyi - aka General Butt Naked - a brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia's horrific 14-year civil war. Today, the General has renounced his ... See full summary »

Directors: Daniele Anastasion, Eric Strauss | Stars: Joshua Milton Blahyi Jr., Janice Blahyi, Joshua Blahyi, Josie Blahyi

Votes: 227

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

74. Wolf (I) (2012)

87 min | Drama, Family

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A family is shaken to the core when they discover that their son has been molested. As they struggle to deal with the betrayal, their son heads towards a total mental collapse because of his love for his abuser.

Director: Ya'Ke Smith | Stars: Selena Aguilar, Pedro Castaneda, Jordan Cooper, Mikala Gibson

Votes: 116

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

75. The Boondocks (2005–2014)

TV-MA | 22 min | Animation, Action, Comedy

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Based on the comic strip, Huey and Riley move away from the city and out to the suburbs with their irascible grandfather. Biting socio-political commentary ensues.

Stars: Regina King, John Witherspoon, Gary Anthony Williams, Cedric Yarbrough

Votes: 23,037

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

76. Django Unchained (2012)

R | 165 min | Drama, Western

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
81 Metascore

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington

Votes: 1,095,443 | Gross: $162.81M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

77. Red Tails (2012)

PG-13 | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

5.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
46 Metascore

A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.

Director: Anthony Hemingway | Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Gerald McRaney, David Oyelowo, Andre Royo

Votes: 30,425 | Gross: $49.88M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

78. We the Party (2012)

R | Comedy

4.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  
48 Metascore

In Los Angeles, five high-school friends deal with romance, money, prom, college, sex, bullies, Facebook, fitting in, standing out, and finding themselves.

Director: Mario Van Peebles | Stars: Mario Van Peebles, Snoop Dogg, Michael Jai White, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Votes: 727

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

79. The Retrieval (2013)

R | 92 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
75 Metascore

On the outskirts of the U.S. Civil War, a boy is sent north by his bounty hunter gang to retrieve a wanted man.

Director: Chris Eska | Stars: Ashton Sanders, Tishuan Scott, Keston John, Bill Oberst Jr.

Votes: 2,202 | Gross: $0.05M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

80. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012)

84 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama

6.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
74 Metascore

A quixotic artist hypothesizes about why he feels bad when a mystery girl stands him up. The event prompts him to ask: what's the content of a momentary feeling? Is it the sum of your ... See full summary »

Director: Terence Nance | Stars: Alisa Becher, Jc Cain, Dexter Jones, Namik Minter

Votes: 505 | Gross: $0.07M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

81. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

R | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
96 Metascore

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Director: Steve McQueen | Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt

Votes: 517,664 | Gross: $56.67M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

82. Being Mary Jane (2013– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The life of a young black woman, her work, her family, and the popular talk show which she hosts.

Stars: Gabrielle Union, Lisa Vidal, Raven Goodwin, Margaret Avery

Votes: 2,932

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

83. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014)

Not Rated | 123 min | Comedy, Romance, Thriller

4.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  
52 Metascore

Dr. Hess Green becomes cursed by a mysterious ancient African artifact and is overwhelmed with a newfound thirst for blood. He however is not a vampire. Soon after his transformation he ... See full summary »

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Stephen Tyrone Williams, Zaraah Abrahams, Rami Malek, Elvis Nolasco

Votes: 1,016

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

84. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

PG-13 | 93 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
86 Metascore

Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.

Director: Benh Zeitlin | Stars: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly, Lowell Landes

Votes: 74,571 | Gross: $12.80M

Key Film in Part 7: 2012 Nu Blak Image (2012 -2014)

85. Dope (2015)

R | 103 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
72 Metascore

Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who's surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.

Director: Rick Famuyiwa | Stars: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise

Votes: 71,215 | Gross: $17.47M

Final Chapter: BLERDS in Paradise (Present)

86. Dear White People (2014)

R | 108 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

6.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
79 Metascore

The lives of four black students at an Ivy League college.

Director: Justin Simien | Stars: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris

Votes: 22,366 | Gross: $4.40M

Final Chapter: BLERDS in Paradise (Present)

87. Afro Samurai (2007)

TV-MA | 125 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A Black samurai goes on a mission to avenge the wrongful death of his father in a futuristic feudal Japan.

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Phil LaMarr, Yuri Lowenthal, Greg Eagles

Votes: 12,747

Final Chapter: BLERDS in Paradise (Present)

88. A Band Called Death (2012)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
77 Metascore

A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new-found popularity decades after they disbanded.

Directors: Mark Christopher Covino, Jeff Howlett | Stars: Bobby Hackney, David Hackney, Dannis Hackney, Robbie Duncan

Votes: 3,050 | Gross: $0.13M

Final Chapter: BLERDS in Paradise (Present)