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The Best Black Drama Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated July 11, 2020 2.6k votes 302 voters 28.7k views 54 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite drama movies that feature people of color in prominent roles.

There are several Academy Award-winning movies on this impressive list of the greatest Black drama films. Heavy-hitting tales like Selma and 12 Years a Slave not only told important true stories from our nation’s past, but they also helped to enlighten present-day audiences. What other Black drama films made the list?

In 1989, Spike Lee released Do the Right Thing, a movie that takes place on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn over the course of one of the hottest days of the year. The movie explores deep-seated racism, from every angle, and offers no easy answers, just more questions about how society ever even got to this point of hatred. John Singleton’s directorial debut Boyz n the Hood, an equally important look at racism in inner cities, came out two years later and features some of the most talented Black actors of their generation.

There are also stories with diverse casts that show characters teaming up to overcome the narrow minded masses such as BlacKkKlansman which won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. If you don't see your favorite new Black drama movie feel free to add it to the list.

Those are just a few of the top Black drama movies. It is going to be really tough, but you'll decide the film that makes it to the top by voting up good African American drama movies on this list.

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list ordered by
1
Boyz n the Hood is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Ice Cube, Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 1991

Directed by: John Singleton

Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American hood drama film directed by John Singleton. Three young men weave in and out of violence, relationships, and racial issues in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los

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#1 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #126 of 301 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #162 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

2
Set It Off is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#5 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #986 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #198 of 321 Movies with the Best Soundtracks

3
Poetic Justice is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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’ #9 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #2 of 54 The Best Black Romance Movies, Ranked

4
Love & Basketball is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#11 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #366 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #290 of 301 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

5
Waiting to Exhale is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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, based on Terry McMillan's novel of the same name. The film centers around four unique women and how they ...more

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#26 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #225 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #366 of 377 The Best Musical Movies of All Time

6
What's Love Got to Do wi... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#75 of 210 The Best Movies About Music #18 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #21 of 39 The Most Inspirational Black Movies

7
The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Laurence Fishburne

Released: 1985

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #4 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #164 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

8
Lean on Me is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#8 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #9 of 39 The Most Inspirational Black Movies #32 of 112 The Best Inspirational Movies

9
Soul Food is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#10 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #593 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #158 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

10
Ray is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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 210 The Best Movies About Music #12 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#7 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #124 of 234 The Best Movies Based On True Stories #42 of 69 The Best Movies That Are Super Long

12
Remember the Titans is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#13 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #81 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #957 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

13
Antwone Fisher is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#25 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #107 of 234 The Best Movies Based On True Stories #464 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

14
The Wood is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#22 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #146 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #7 of 54 The Best Black Romance Movies, Ranked

15
Dreamgirls is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx

Released: 2006

Directed by: Bill Condon

Dreamgirls is a 2006 American musical drama film, directed by Bill Condon and jointly produced and released by DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures. The film debuted in three special road ...more

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Every Song in Dreamgirls, Ranked by Singability #89 of 210 The Best Movies About Musiclisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
The Help is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard

Released: 2011

Directed by: Tate Taylor

The Help is a 2011 American period drama film directed and written by Tate Taylor, and adapted from Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name. Featuring an ensemble cast, the film is about ...more

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#40 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #59 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #303 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

17
Do the Right Thing is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, Spike Lee

Released: 1989

Directed by: 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

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#28 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #308 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Movies Set in Brooklyn

18
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch

Released: 2013

Directed by: Steve McQueen

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free ...more

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#161 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #23 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Againlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
Hidden Figures is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe

Released: 2016

Directed by: Theodore Melfi

Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The story of a team of female African-American ...more

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#354 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #358 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #92 of 234 The Best Movies Based On True Stories

20
The Pursuit of Happyness... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
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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#17 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #43 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #14 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry

21
Fruitvale Station is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer

Released: 2013

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Ryan Coogler, based on true events. The story of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, ...more
22
How Stella Got Her Groov... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett, Danny Glover

Released: 1998

Directed by: Kevin Rodney Sullivan

How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a 1998 romantic comedy film directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan, adapted from Terry McMillan's bestselling novel of the same title. The film stars Angela Bassett, ...more

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#44 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #340 of 802 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #263 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

23
Hustle & Flow is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Taraji P. Henson, Ludacris, Terrence Howard

Released: 2005

Directed by: Craig Brewer

Hustle & Flow is a 2005 American independent drama film written and directed by Craig Brewer and produced by John Singleton and Stephanie Allain. It was released on July 22, 2005. Terrence ...more

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#123 of 210 The Best Movies About Music #70 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
Ali is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith

Released: 2001

Directed by: Michael Mann

Ali is a 2001 American biographical film directed by Michael Mann. The film tells the story of the boxer Muhammad Ali, played by Will Smith, from 1964-74 featuring his capture of the heavyweight ...more

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#31 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #300 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies #64 of 234 The Best Movies Based On True Stories

25
Selma is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
Oprah Winfrey, Common, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 2014

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and ...more

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#604 of 729 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #10 of 43 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever