Entertainment

The Best Black Drama Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated February 21, 2020 2.3k votes 247 voters 22.3k views 50 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.

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 the best black drama movies on this list.

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 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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#140 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #199 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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#22 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #178 of 324 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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#20 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #8 of 45 The 25+ Best Movies for Black Women 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Film ‘Poetic Justice’

4
The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 4 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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#15 of 33 The Best Steven Spielberg Movies #6 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #127 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

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 and starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett. The film was adapted from the 1992 novel of the same name by ...more

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#351 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #223 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

6
Love & Basketball is listed (or ranked) 6 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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#494 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #5 of 36 30+ Great Movies About Urban Teens

7
What's Love Got to Do wi... is listed (or ranked) 7 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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#80 of 205 The Best Movies About Music #130 of 173 Movies That Should Be Made Into Broadway Musicals #10 of 54 The Best Biopics About Women

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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#21 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #78 of 179 The Best Coming of Age 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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#207 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #29 of 49 The Best Movies About Cooking

10
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 10 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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#2 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #97 of 236 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #2 of 27 The Greatest African American Biopics

11
The Wood is listed (or ranked) 11 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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#42 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #222 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

12
Ray is listed (or ranked) 12 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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#135 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #334 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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#489 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #13 of 27 The Greatest African American Biopics

14
The Help is listed (or ranked) 14 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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#82 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #265 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time

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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#59 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time Every Song in Dreamgirls, Ranked by Singabilitylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Hidden Figures is listed (or ranked) 16 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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#363 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #15 of 177 The Very Best Movies of 2016, Ranked #12 of 236 The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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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#9 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #140 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Movies Set in Brooklyn

18
The Pursuit of Happyness... is listed (or ranked) 18 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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#41 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #16 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

19
Remember the Titans is listed (or ranked) 19 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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#810 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #358 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #74 of 125 Movies That Should Never Be Remade

20
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 20 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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#22 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #78 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

21
Hustle & Flow is listed (or ranked) 21 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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#107 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #74 of 205 The Best Movies About Musiclisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
The Photograph is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Drama Movies
The Photograph Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Chelsea Peretti

Released: 2020

Directed by: Stella Meghie

The Photograph is a 2020 American romantic drama film written and directed by Stella Meghie. When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, her estranged daughter Mae finds herself ...more

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#530 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #149 of 172 The Greatest Date Movies of All Time The Most Memorable Quotes From 'The Photograph'

23
Fruitvale Station is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
How Stella Got Her Groov... is listed (or ranked) 24 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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#404 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #57 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #271 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

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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#441 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #14 of 39 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever