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The Best Black Drama Movies

Updated August 14, 2020 3.8k votes 338 voters 31.7k views56 items

List RulesVote 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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  • 1
    Boyz n the Hood
    148
    21

    Boyz n the Hood

    Ice Cube, Angela Bassett

    Released1991

    Directed byJohn Singleton

    Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American hood drama film directed by John Singleton. Three young men... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 2
    Set It Off
    124
    23

    Set It Off

    Queen Latifah, Dr. Dre

    Released1996

    Directed byF. Gary Gray

    Set It Off is a 1996 American action film directed by F. Gary Gray, and written by Kate Lanier... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 3
    Love & Basketball
    125
    25

    Love & Basketball

    Tyra Banks, Gabrielle Union

    Released2000

    Directed byGina Prince-Bythewood

    Love & Basketball is a 2000 American romantic drama film starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 4
    Waiting to Exhale
    104
    13

    Waiting to Exhale

    Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett

    Released1995

    Directed byForest Whitaker

    Waiting to Exhale is a 1995 American romantic drama film directed by Forest Whitaker, based on... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 5
    Poetic Justice
    123
    26

    Poetic Justice

    Janet Jackson, Keanu Reeves

    Released1993

    Directed byJohn Singleton

    Poetic Justice is a 1993 drama/romance film starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur with... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 6
    What's Love Got to Do with It
    106
    16

    What's Love Got to Do with It

    Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne

    Released1993

    Directed byBrian Gibson

    What's Love Got to Do with It is a 1993 American biographical film directed by Brian Gibson,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 7
    Lean on Me
    101
    14

    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
  • 8
    The Color Purple
    113
    25

    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
  • 9
    Ray
    92
    13

    Ray

    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx

    Released2004

    Directed byTaylor Hackford

    Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 10
    Soul Food
    97
    19

    Soul Food

    Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long

    Released1997

    Directed byGeorge Tillman, Jr.

    Soul Food is a 1997 American comedy-drama film, produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Tracey... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 11
    Remember the Titans
    88
    13

    Remember the Titans

    Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling

    Released2000

    Directed byBoaz Yakin

    Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 12
    Malcolm X
    91
    16

    Malcolm X

    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton

    Released1992

    Directed bySpike Lee

    Malcolm X is a 1992 American biographical drama film about the African-American activist... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 13
    Antwone Fisher
    88
    19

    Antwone Fisher

    Denzel Washington, Viola Davis

    Released2002

    Directed byDenzel Washington

    Antwone Fisher is a 2002 American biographical drama film directed by and starring Denzel... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 14
    The Wood
    91
    23

    The Wood

    Christina Milian, Sanaa Lathan

    Released1999

    Directed byRick Famuyiwa

    The Wood is a 1999 romantic comedy, written by Rick Famuyiwa and Todd Boyd. Famuyiwa also... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 15
    Hidden Figures
    86
    20

    Hidden Figures

    Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer

    Released2016

    Directed byTheodore Melfi

    Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, based on... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 16
    The Help
    85
    20

    The Help

    Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain

    Released2011

    Directed byTate Taylor

    The Help is a 2011 American period drama film directed and written by Tate Taylor, and adapted... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 17
    Dreamgirls
    86
    21

    Dreamgirls

    Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy

    Released2006

    Directed byBill Condon

    Dreamgirls is a 2006 American musical drama film, directed by Bill Condon and jointly produced... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 18
    The Pursuit of Happyness
    84
    21

    The Pursuit of Happyness

    Will Smith, Thandie Newton

    Released2006

    Directed byGabriele Muccino

    The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on Chris Gardner's... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 19
    Do the Right Thing
    85
    25

    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

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  • 20
    12 Years a Slave
    79
    21

    12 Years a Slave

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender

    Released2013

    Directed bySteve McQueen

    12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 21
    Fruitvale Station
    72
    23

    Fruitvale Station

    Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz

    Released2013

    Directed byRyan Coogler

    Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Ryan Coogler, based... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 22
    Ali
    67
    20

    Ali

    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx

    Released2001

    Directed byMichael Mann

    Ali is a 2001 American biographical film directed by Michael Mann. The film tells the story of... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 23
    How Stella Got Her Groove Back
    70
    24

    How Stella Got Her Groove Back

    Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett

    Released1998

    Directed byKevin Rodney Sullivan

    How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a 1998 romantic comedy film directed by Kevin Rodney... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 24
    Hustle & Flow
    67
    23

    Hustle & Flow

    Taraji P. Henson, Ludacris

    Released2005

    Directed byCraig Brewer

    Hustle & Flow is a 2005 American independent drama film written and directed by Craig Brewer... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 25
    Glory
    56
    15

    Glory

    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington

    Released1989

    Directed byEdward Zwick

    Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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