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The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated May 11, 2020 677.9k votes 55.7k voters 6.2M views 726 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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1
Boyz n the Hood is listed (or ranked) 1 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

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#165 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #117 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #102 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

2
Friday is listed (or ranked) 2 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

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#109 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #363 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #16 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

3
Menace II Society is listed (or ranked) 3 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

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#1,169 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #46 of 212 The Best Drug Movies of All Time #440 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

4
The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 4 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

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#49 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #169 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #166 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

5
Set It Off is listed (or ranked) 5 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

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#971 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #214 of 347 Movies with the Best Soundtracks #6 of 46 The 25+ Best Movies for Black Women

6
Coming to America is listed (or ranked) 6 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

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After A Contentious Six-Month Production, It's A Miracle 'Coming To America' Even Exists #32 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #4 of 439 The Funniest '80s Movies

7
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 7 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

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#128 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #3 of 43 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Stories #236 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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

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#9 of 37 The Most Inspirational Black Movies #32 of 111 The Best Inspirational Movies #75 of 188 The Best Coming of Age Movies

9
Poetic Justice is listed (or ranked) 9 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

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15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Film ‘Poetic Justice’ #2 of 54 The Best Black Romance Movies, Ranked #10 of 46 The 25+ Best Movies for Black Women

10
Soul Food is listed (or ranked) 10 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

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#594 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #157 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #26 of 49 The Best Movies About Cooking

11
Love & Basketball is listed (or ranked) 11 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

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#367 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #286 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #1 of 54 The Best Black Romance Movies, Ranked

12
Ray is listed (or ranked) 12 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

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#10 of 209 The Best Movies About Music #24 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Remember the Titans is listed (or ranked) 13 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

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#81 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #954 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #36 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

14
The Best Man is listed (or ranked) 14 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

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#169 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #4 of 54 The Best Black Romance Movies, Ranked #254 of 298 The Best Teen Movies of All Time

15
Training Day is listed (or ranked) 15 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

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#781 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #236 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Bad Boys is listed (or ranked) 16 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

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#41 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #98 of 280 The Best Whodunit Movies #10 of 84 The Funniest Black Movies Ever Made

17
The Pursuit of Happyness... is listed (or ranked) 17 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

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#14 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #518 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #43 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

18
What's Love Got to Do wi... is listed (or ranked) 18 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

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#72 of 209 The Best Movies About Music #23 of 37 The Most Inspirational Black Movies #9 of 54 The Best Biopics About Women

19
House Party is listed (or ranked) 19 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

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#131 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #13 of 84 The Funniest Black Movies Ever Made #509 of 1,209 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

20
Juice is listed (or ranked) 20 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

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#340 of 347 Movies with the Best Soundtracks #770 of 975 The Best Albums of the 1990s #285 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

21
New Jack City is listed (or ranked) 21 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

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#341 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #192 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #50 of 212 The Best Drug Movies of All Time

22
The Wood is listed (or ranked) 22 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.

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#147 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #7 of 54 The Best Black Romance Movies, Ranked #59 of 93 The Best Hood Movies

23
Life is listed (or ranked) 23 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

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#148 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #3 of 84 The Funniest Black Movies Ever Made #455 of 1,030 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

24
Coach Carter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum, Ashanti

Released: 2005

Directed by: Thomas Carter

Coach Carter is a 2005 American biographical teen sports drama film directed by Thomas Carter, based on the true story of the Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter. Controversy ...more

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#53 of 182 The Best Sports Movies Ever Made #4 of 37 The Most Inspirational Black Movies #2 of 33 The 30+ Best Black Sports Movies Ever Made

25
Antwone Fisher is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Salli Richardson

Released: 2002

Directed by: Denzel Washington

Antwone Fisher is a 2002 American biographical drama film directed by and starring Denzel Washington in his feature film directorial debut. He also stars in the film as the psychiatrist Jerome ...more

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#107 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #464 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #16 of 37 The Most Inspirational Black Movies