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The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 20, 2020 670.2k votes 55.1k voters 6.1M views 721 items

List Rules Movies must feature African-American and African culture and/or mostly above the line black casts.

The best black movies are favorites that explore African-American culture and themes. This list is ranked by film fans, many of whom grew up waiting for and watching good, realistic representations of what life was like for black people in America. The top African American movies often dominate the box office when released and this is a list of the best black films. What are the best black people movies of all time? Some of these films appear on other lists that you may find interesting, such as: best comedies of all time, best drama movies, and best actions movies on Netflix. You can sort by actor and director, or press "rerank" below to make your own list of the greatest African American themed movies.

This list of top black films features classic African American comedies like Friday and Coming to America, sports films like Love & Basketball, and biographical movies about black celebrities and leaders, from Ray and Ali to Malcolm X. This list also includes great movies about slavery (both Roots and Django Unchained, for example) and films about black life in the American South throughout history, from Glory and A Time to Kill to The Help. These and other highly acclaimed black movies in cinema focus on African-Americans, and most have surpassed the test of time among black audiences.

This includes everything to watch from '90s black comedy movies - comedies with a mostly black cast and perspective - to black crime movies, famous gang films, and action flicks. For other interesting movie lists check out Ranker's lists of well-made movies about slavery and films about racism. Also check out these lists of the best black sitcoms, the best black love movies, and the best cities for African Americans.

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list ordered by
1
Friday is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Ice Cube, Meagan Good, Nia Long

Released: 1995

Directed by: F. Gary Gray

Friday is a 1995 American stoner buddy comedy film directed by F. Gary Gray in his directorial debut, and starring Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long, Bernie Mac, Tiny 'Zeus' Lister Jr, and John ...more
2
Menace II Society is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Samuel L. Jackson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Charles S. Dutton

Released: 1993

Directed by: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

Menace II Society is a 1993 drama/hood film and the directorial debut of twin brothers Allen and Albert Hughes. Set in South Central Los Angeles, the film follows the life of a hoodlum named ...more
3
Boyz n the Hood is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Ice Cube, Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 1991

Directed by: John Singleton

Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American hood drama written and directed by John Singleton in his directorial debut, and starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia ...more
4
Set It Off is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Queen Latifah, Dr. Dre, Jada Pinkett Smith

Released: 1996

Directed by: F. Gary Gray

Set It Off is a 1996 American action film directed by F. Gary Gray, and written by Kate Lanier and Takashi Bufford. The film stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly ...more
5
Poetic Justice is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Janet Jackson, Keanu Reeves, Tupac Shakur

Released: 1993

Directed by: John Singleton

Poetic Justice is a 1993 drama/romance film starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur with Regina King and Joe Torry. It was written and directed by John Singleton. The main character, Justice, ...more
6
The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne

Released: 1985

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

See The Best The Color Purple Movie Quotes
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 ...more
7
Love & Basketball is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Tyra Banks, Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan

Released: 2000

Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Love & Basketball is a 2000 American romantic drama film starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. The film tells the story of Quincy McCall and Monica Wright, two next-door neighbors in Los ...more
8
Lean on Me is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Morgan Freeman, Tony Todd, Regina Taylor

Released: 1989

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

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 ...more
9
What's Love Got to Do wi... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Khandi Alexander

Released: 1993

Directed by: Brian Gibson

What's Love Got to Do with It is a 1993 American biographical film directed by Brian Gibson, loosely based on the life of Tina Turner. It stars Angela Bassett as Tina Turner and Laurence ...more
10
Juice is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Tupac Shakur, Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah

Released: 1992

Directed by: Ernest R. Dickerson

Juice is a 1992 American drama thriller directed by Ernest R. Dickerson, written by Ernest R. Dickerson and Gerard Brown. It stars rapper Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps. Additional cast members ...more
11
Soul Food is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Vanessa L. Williams

Released: 1997

Directed by: George Tillman, Jr.

Soul Food is a 1997 American comedy-drama film, produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Tracey Edmonds, and Robert Teitel, and released by Fox 2000 Pictures. Featuring an ensemble ...more
12
The Best Man is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Nia Long, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan

Released: 1999

Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee

The Best Man is a 1999 American romantic comedy-drama film, written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee. It was produced by 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, with Lee's cousin, Spike Lee, serving as ...more
13
Bad Boys is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Will Smith, Téa Leoni, Martin Lawrence

Released: 1995

Directed by: Michael Bay

Bad Boys is a 1995 American action comedy film produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, producers of Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop, and directed by Michael Bay in his directorial debut. It ...more
14
Coming to America is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones

Released: 1988

Directed by: John Landis

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 ...more
15
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela

Released: 1992

Directed by: Spike Lee

Malcolm X is a 1992 American biographical drama film about the African-American activist Malcolm X. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee. The film dramatizes key events in Malcolm X's life: his ...more
16
The Wood is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Christina Milian, Sanaa Lathan, Taye Diggs

Released: 1999

Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa

The Wood is a 1999 romantic comedy, written by Rick Famuyiwa and Todd Boyd. Famuyiwa also directed the film, which stars Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones, and Taye Diggs.
17
Ray is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard

Released: 2004

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. The independently produced film was written, produced and directed by Taylor Hackford, and ...more
18
House Party is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Martin Lawrence, George Clinton, Paul O'Grady

Released: 1990

Directed by: Reginald Hudlin

House Party is a 1990 American comedy film released by New Line Cinema. It stars Kid and Play of the popular hip hop duo Kid 'n Play, and also stars Paul Anthony, Bow-Legged Lou, and B-Fine from ...more
19
New Jack City is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Chris Rock, Ice-T, Judd Nelson

Released: 1991

Directed by: Mario Van Peebles

New Jack City is a 1991 American thriller action film film directed by Mario Van Peebles in his directorial debut, who also co-stars in the film. The film stars Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen ...more
20
Life is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Eddie Murphy, Poppy Montgomery, Martin Lawrence

Released: 1999

Directed by: Ted Demme

Life is a 1999 American comedy-drama film written by Robert Ramsey & Matthew Stone and directed by Ted Demme. The film stars Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. The supporting cast includes ...more
21
Remember the Titans is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington

Released: 2000

Directed by: Boaz Yakin

Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Boaz Yakin. The screenplay, written by Gregory Allen Howard, is based on the true story of ...more
22
Training Day is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Eva Mendes, Snoop Dogg, Denzel Washington

Released: 2001

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Training Day is a 2001 American thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua, written by David Ayer, and starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. The story follows two LAPD narcotics officers over ...more
23
The Pursuit of Happyness... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

Released: 2006

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino

The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on Chris Gardner's nearly one-year struggle with homelessness. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film features Will ...more
24
Waiting to Exhale is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Kelly Preston

Released: 1995

Directed by: Forest Whitaker

Waiting to Exhale is a 1995 American romantic drama film directed by Forest Whitaker and starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. The film was adapted from the 1992 novel of the same name by ...more
25
Baby Boy is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Snoop Dogg, Taraji P. Henson, Tyrese Gibson

Released: 2001

Directed by: John Singleton

Baby Boy Production NotesIn 1991, 23-year-old director John Singleton guided viewers through South Central Los Angeles, taking for the first time an unflinching look at the devastating impact on ...more