african american The Best Black Movies of the 1980s  

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List Rules Vote up your favorite African American films that were released in the 1980s

From Oscar-winners to dance epics, '80s black movies cover an incredible range of film genres and styles. This list of the best 1980s black movies ranks films about the African American experience from the decade, so your votes will decide whether the greatest '80s black movie is an artful drama, a searing political statement, or even a blockbuster comedy.

Several of the top '80s black movies have one thing in common: Eddie Murphy. Coming to America, Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop, all of which star Murphy, appear on this great 1980s black movies list. While Murphy was the heaviest comedic hitter of the 1980s, Richard Pryor comedies like Brewster's Millions, Stir Crazy, and The Toy also made big impressions.

On the more serious side, the '80s saw the release of great black dramas like The Color Purple and Glory. The 1980s also introduced audiences to Spike Lee. His 1989 classic Do the Right Thing appears on this great 1980s black films list, as does his 1986 film,She's Gotta Have It. Prince's Purple Rain is another good African American film from the '80s.

Which is your favorite '80s black film? Vote up the best and vote down the worst. Your votes will decide the top black movie of the 1980s. If any great '80's African American film is missing, add it, and if you're an expert, then rerank the whole list!

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Coming to America is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Coming to America Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones Coming to America is a 1988 American comedy film directed by John Landis, and based on a story originally created by Eddie Murphy, who also starred in the lead role. The film also co-stars Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and John ...more

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Do the Right Thing is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Do the Right Thing Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, Spike Lee Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama hood film produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee, who also played the part of Mookie in the film. Other members of the cast include Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, ...more

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The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
The Color Purple Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne The Color Purple is a 1985 American period drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker. It was Spielberg's eighth film as a director, and was a change from the summer ...more

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Lean on Me is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Lean on Me Morgan Freeman, Tony Todd, Regina Taylor Lean on Me is a 1989 dramatized biographical film written by Michael Schiffer, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Morgan Freeman. Lean on Me is loosely based on the story of Joe Louis Clark, a real life inner city high school principal ...more

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Beverly Hills Cop is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Beverly Hills Cop Eddie Murphy, Damon Wayans, Paul Reiser Beverly Hills Cop is a 1984 American action comedy film directed by Martin Brest and starring Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit cop who heads to Beverly Hills, California to solve the murder of his best friend. Judge Reinhold, ...more

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Trading Places is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Trading Places Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd Trading Places is a 1983 American comedy film directed by John Landis, starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. It tells the story of an upper-class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives cross paths when they are ...more

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Harlem Nights is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Harlem Nights Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Arsenio Hall Harlem Nights is a 1989 crime comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor and directed by Murphy. The film featured Michael Lerner, Danny Aiello, Redd Foxx, Della Reese and Murphy's brother Charlie Murphy. Murphy and Pryor star as a ...more

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The Last Dragon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
The Last Dragon William H. Macy, Vanity, Keshia Knight Pulliam The Last Dragon is a 1985 martial arts musical film produced by Rupert Hitzig for Berry Gordy and directed by Michael Schultz. The film was a critical disappointment but a financial success, and is now considered a cult classic. The film stars ...more

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Purple Rain is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Purple Rain Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Wendy Melvoin Purple Rain is a 1984 American rock musical drama film directed by Albert Magnoli and written by Magnoli and William Blinn. In it, Prince makes his film debut, which was developed to showcase his particular talents. Hence, the film contains ...more

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Glory is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Glory Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free TrialGlory is a 1989 American drama war film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on the personal letters of Colonel Robert Gould ...more

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Beverly Hills Cop II is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Beverly Hills Cop II Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Gilbert Gottfried Beverly Hills Cop II is a 1987 action comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Tony Scott. It is the first sequel in the Beverly Hills Cop series. Murphy returns as Detroit police detective Axel Foley, who reunites with Beverly Hills ...more

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School Daze is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
School Daze Samuel L. Jackson, Laurence Fishburne, Spike Lee School Daze is a 1988 American musical-drama film, written and directed by Spike Lee, and starring Larry Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, and Tisha Campbell-Martin. Based in part on Spike Lee's experiences at Atlanta's Morehouse College, Spelman ...more

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Brewster's Millions is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Brewster's Millions Richard Pryor, John Candy, Rick Moranis Brewster's Millions is a 1985 comedy film starring Richard Pryor and John Candy based on the 1902 novel of the same name by George Barr McCutcheon. It is the seventh film based on the story, with a screenplay by Herschel Weingrod and Timothy ...more

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The Toy is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
The Toy Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason, Wilfrid Hyde-White The Toy is a 1982 American comedy film directed by Richard Donner, and starring Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason, with Ned Beatty, Scott Schwartz, Teresa Ganzel, and Virginia Capers in supporting roles. It is an adaptation of the 1976 French ...more

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Stir Crazy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Stir Crazy Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Craig T. Nelson Stir Crazy is a 1980 American comedy film directed by Sidney Poitier and starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor as down-on-their-luck friends who are given 125-year prison sentences after being framed for a bank robbery; while in prison they ...more

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Breakin' is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Breakin' Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ice-T, Christopher McDonald Breakin', released as Breakdance: The Movie or Break Street '84 in some countries, is a 1984 breakdancing-themed film directed by Joel Silberg. The film setting was inspired by a 1983 German documentary entitled Breakin' and Enterin' set in the ...more

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Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Mississippi Burning Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American crime thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the murders of three civil rights workers in the U.S. state of Mississippi in ...more

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A Raisin in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
A Raisin in the Sun Danny Glover, Esther Rolle, Helen Martin A Raisin In The Sun is a TV program.

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Jumpin' Jack Flash is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Jumpin' Jack Flash Whoopi Goldberg, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz Jumpin' Jack Flash is a 1986 spy comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The film was directed by Penny Marshall in her theatrical film directorial debut. The film was one of the first to feature online communications as a key part of the plot. ...more

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A Soldier's Story is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
A Soldier's Story Denzel Washington, Patti LaBelle, David Alan Grier A Soldier's Story is a 1984 American drama film directed by Norman Jewison, based upon Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning Off Broadway production A Soldier's Play. A black officer is sent to investigate the murder of a black sergeant in ...more

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Krush Groove is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Krush Groove Chris Rock, LL Cool J, Bobby Brown Krush Groove is a 1985 Warner Bros. film that was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz. This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons, portrayed by Blair ...more

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Beat Street is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Beat Street Rae Dawn Chong, Mary Alice, Kadeem Hardison Beat Street is an American 1984 drama film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the early 1980s; breakdancing, DJing, and graffiti. It began with a script written by Steven Hager titled "Looking for the Perfect Beat" and in ...more

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Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo Ice-T, Lucinda Dickey, Shabba Doo Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo is the sequel to the breakdancing film Breakin', with both films having been released in 1984. Electric Boogaloo was released seven months after its predecessor by TriStar Pictures, and by Cannon Films a few months ...more

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Disorderlies is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Disorderlies Helen Reddy, Ralph Bellamy, Tony Plana Disorderlies is a 1987 comedy film starring the rap group, The Fat Boys, and Ralph Bellamy.

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The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Life And Shyt Radio added The Temptations Smokey Robinson, Bianca Lawson, D. B. Woodside The Temptations is a four-hour television miniseries broadcast in two-hour halves on NBC, based upon the history of one of Motown's longest-lived acts, The Temptations. Executive produced by former Motown executive Suzanne de Passe, produced by ...more

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Tap is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Tap Etta James, Sammy Davis, Jr. Tap is a 1989 drama film written and directed by Nick Castle. It stars Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Native Son is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Native Son Oprah Winfrey, Matt Dillon, Ving Rhames Native Son is a 1986 drama film directed by Jerrold Freedman.

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Cry Freedom is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Cry Freedom Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Julian Glover Cry Freedom is a 1987 British drama film directed by Richard Attenborough, set in the late 1970s, during the apartheid era of South Africa. The screenplay was written by John Briley based on a pair of books by journalist Donald Woods. The film ...more

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She's Gotta Have It is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
She's Gotta Have It Spike Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Joie Lee She's Gotta Have It is a 1986 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Spike Lee. It is Lee's first feature-length film. The film stars Tracy Camilla Johns, Tommy Redmond Hicks and John Canada Terrell. Also appearing are ...more

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Bird is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Bird Forest Whitaker, Keith David, Sam Robards Bird is a 1988 American biographical film, produced and directed by Clint Eastwood of a screenplay written by Joel Oliansky. The film is a tribute to the life and music of jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker. It is constructed as a ...more

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Under the Cherry Moon is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Under the Cherry Moon Prince, Kristin Scott Thomas, Francesca Annis Under the Cherry Moon is a 1986 American musical drama film directed by and starring Prince as a gigolo named Christopher Tracy and former Time member Jerome Benton as his partner, Tricky. Together, the pair swindle wealthy French women. The ...more

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Wild Style is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
SeanSmith added Wild Style Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Lady Pink, Fab Five Freddy Wild Style is a 1983 hip hop film produced by Charlie Ahearn. Released theatrically in 1983 by First Run Features and later re-released for home video by Rhino Home Video, it is regarded as the first hip hop motion picture. The film featured ...more