Entertainment The Best Black Movies of the 1980s  

Ranker Film
4.1k votes 676 voters 61.8k views 32 items

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!
list ordered by
1
262 34
Coming to America is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
2
211 30
The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
3
174 31
Beverly Hills Cop is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
4
167 29
Lean on Me is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
5
158 33
Harlem Nights is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Arsenio Hall
Harlem Nights is a 1989 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 ...more
6
163 38
Do the Right Thing is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
7
148 31
Purple Rain is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
8
151 38
Trading Places is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
9
136 36
The Last Dragon is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
10
115 28
Glory is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Glory is a 1989 American drama 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 ...more
11
89 16
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Life And Shyt Radio added 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 ...more
12
113 38
School Daze is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
13
93 29
Brewster's Millions is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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, ...more
14
101 35
Beverly Hills Cop II is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
15
76 34
Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman, Frances McDormand
Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by Chris Gerolmo. It was loosely based on the FBI investigation into the incidents involving of three ...more
16
64 26
A Raisin in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Danny Glover, Esther Rolle, Helen Martin
A Raisin In The Sun is a TV program.
17
72 32
Stir Crazy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
18
73 34
Jumpin' Jack Flash is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
19
59 24
A Soldier's Story is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
20
69 32
Breakin' is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
21
70 37
The Toy is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
22
70 37
Krush Groove is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
23
62 31
Beat Street is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more
24
65 34
Disorderlies is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
Helen Reddy, Ralph Bellamy, Tony Plana
Disorderlies is a 1987 comedy film starring the rap group, The Fat Boys, and Ralph Bellamy.
25
60 34
She's Gotta Have It is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
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 ...more