vote on everything
Watchworthy
803 voters

The Best Black Movies of the 1980s

Updated July 13, 2020 5.3k votes 803 voters 73.5k views32 items

List RulesVote 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!

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    Coming to America is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    336
    43

    Coming to America

    Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1988

    Directed byJohn Landis

    Coming to America is a 1988 American comedy film directed by John Landis, and based on a story... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 2
    The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    269
    41

    The Color Purple

    Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg

    Released1985

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    The Color Purple is a 1985 American period drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More The Color Purple 

    #55 of 364 The Best Movies Based On Books#17 of 33 The Best Steven Spielberg Movies

  • 3
    Lean on Me is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    218
    35

    Lean on Me

    Morgan Freeman, Tony Todd

    Released1989

    Directed byJohn G. Avildsen

    Lean on Me is a 1989 dramatized biographical film written by Michael Schiffer, directed by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More Lean on Me 

    #9 of 40 The Most Inspirational Black Movies#32 of 112 The Best Inspirational Movies

  • 4
    Beverly Hills Cop is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    215
    35

    Beverly Hills Cop

    Eddie Murphy, Damon Wayans

    Released1984

    Directed byMartin Brest

    Beverly Hills Cop is a 1984 American action comedy film directed by Martin Brest and starring... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    Harlem Nights is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    205
    39

    Harlem Nights

    Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor

    Released1989

    Directed byEddie Murphy

    Harlem Nights is a 1989 comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor and directed by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 6
    Do the Right Thing is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    209
    46

    Do the Right Thing

    Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence

    Released1989

    Directed bySpike Lee

    Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama hood film produced, written, and directed... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More Do the Right Thing 

    #19 of 63 Movies Set in Brooklyn#318 of 366 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

  • 7
    Purple Rain is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    190
    37

    Purple Rain

    Prince, Apollonia Kotero

    Released1984

    Directed byAlbert Magnoli

    Purple Rain is a 1984 American rock musical drama film directed by Albert Magnoli and written... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More Purple Rain 

    #442 of 3,110 The Greatest Albums of All-Time#1636 of 3,866 The Best Songs Of All Time, Ranked

  • 8
    Trading Places is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    191
    41

    Trading Places

    Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis

    Released1983

    Directed byJohn Landis

    Trading Places is a 1983 American comedy film directed by John Landis, starring Dan Aykroyd... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 9
    Glory is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    147
    35

    Glory

    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington

    Released1989

    Directed byEdward Zwick

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    amazon buy button

    More Glory 

    #2 of 28 Civil War Movies List#18 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked

  • 10
    The Last Dragon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    168
    49

    The Last Dragon

    William H. Macy, Vanity

    Released1985

    Directed byMichael Schultz

    The Last Dragon is a 1985 martial arts musical film produced by Rupert Hitzig for Berry Gordy... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More The Last Dragon 

    #214 of 629 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked#359 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

  • 11
    The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    132
    29

    The Temptations

    Smokey Robinson, Bianca Lawson

    Released1998

    Directed byAllan Arkush

    The Temptations is a four-hour television miniseries broadcast in two-hour halves on NBC,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More The Temptations 

    #72 of 147 The Best Miniseries in TV History#15 of 52 The Best Movies About Real Bands & Musicians

  • 12
    School Daze is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    144
    46

    School Daze

    Samuel L. Jackson, Laurence Fishburne

    Released1988

    Directed bySpike Lee

    School Daze is a 1988 American musical-drama film, written and directed by Spike Lee, and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 13
    Beverly Hills Cop II is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    127
    44

    Beverly Hills Cop II

    Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock

    Released1987

    Directed byTony Scott

    Beverly Hills Cop II is a 1987 action comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Tony... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More Beverly Hills Cop II 

    #237 of 922 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films#19 of 68 The Best Comedy Movie Sequels

  • 14
    Brewster's Millions is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    117
    40

    Brewster's Millions

    Richard Pryor, John Candy

    Released1985

    Directed byWalter Hill

    Brewster's Millions is a 1985 comedy film starring Richard Pryor and John Candy based on the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    A Soldier's Story is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    84
    31

    A Soldier's Story

    Denzel Washington, Patti LaBelle

    Released1984

    Directed byNorman Jewison

    A Soldier's Story is a 1984 American drama film directed by Norman Jewison, based upon Charles... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More A Soldier's Story 

    #118 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time#11 of 50 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the '80s

  • 16
    Stir Crazy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    88
    37

    Stir Crazy

    Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder

    Released1980

    Directed bySidney Poitier

    Stir Crazy is a 1980 American comedy film directed by Sidney Poitier and starring Gene Wilder... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More Stir Crazy 

    #80 of 314 The Funniest '80s Movies#1261 of 1,647 The Most Rewatchable Movies

  • 17
    Mississippi Burning is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    93
    41

    Mississippi Burning

    Willem Dafoe, Gene Hackman

    Released1988

    Directed byAlan Parker

    Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American thriller film directed by Alan Parker and written by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More Mississippi Burning 

    #520 of 1,189 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#62 of 236 The Best Movies Based On True Stories

  • 18
    Krush Groove is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    93
    42

    Krush Groove

    Chris Rock, LL Cool J

    Released1985

    Directed byMichael Schultz

    Krush Groove is a 1985 Warner Bros. film that was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 19
    A Raisin in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    83
    34

    A Raisin in the Sun

    Danny Glover, Esther Rolle

    Released1989

    Directed byBill Duke

    A Raisin In The Sun is a TV program.amazon buy button
  • 20
    Breakin' is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    90
    42

    Breakin'

    Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ice-T

    Released1984

    Directed byJoel Silberg

    Breakin', released as Breakdance: The Movie or Break Street '84 in some countries, is a 1984... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 21
    Beat Street is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    82
    40

    Beat Street

    Rae Dawn Chong, Mary Alice

    Released1984

    Directed byStan Lathan

    Beat Street is an American 1984 drama film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 22
    The Toy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    87
    46

    The Toy

    Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason

    Released1982

    Directed byRichard Donner

    The Toy is a 1982 American comedy film directed by Richard Donner, and starring Richard Pryor... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 23
    Jumpin' Jack Flash is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    86
    47

    Jumpin' Jack Flash

    Whoopi Goldberg, Phil Hartman

    Released1986

    Directed byPenny Marshall

    Jumpin' Jack Flash is a 1986 spy comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The film was directed... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

    More Jumpin' Jack Flash 

    #29 of 49 The Very Best Movies About Hackers#121 of 280 The Best Whodunit Movies

  • 24
    Disorderlies is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    86
    47

    Disorderlies

    Helen Reddy, Ralph Bellamy

    Released1987

    Directed byMichael Schultz

    Disorderlies is a 1987 comedy film starring the rap group, The Fat Boys, and Ralph Bellamy.amazon buy button
  • 25
    She's Gotta Have It is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Movies of the 1980s
    74
    51

    She's Gotta Have It

    Spike Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson

    Released1986

    Directed bySpike Lee

    She's Gotta Have It is a 1986 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Spike Lee.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
FilmsFilmEntertainment1980s80s Moviestop 25