361 voters

The Best Black Drama Movies

Updated August 14, 2020 4.1k votes 361 voters 34.0k 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.

  • Boyz n the Hood1

    Boyz n the Hood

    Ice Cube, Angela Bassett


    Directed byJohn Singleton

    Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American hood drama film directed by John Singleton. Three young men...  more
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  • Set It Off2

    Set It Off

    Queen Latifah, Dr. Dre


    Directed byF. Gary Gray

    Set It Off is a 1996 American action film directed by F. Gary Gray, and written by Kate Lanier...  more
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    #991 of 1,540 The Most Rewatchable Movies#225 of 315 Movies with the Best Soundtracks

  • Love & Basketball3

    Love & Basketball

    Tyra Banks, Gabrielle Union


    Directed byGina Prince-Bythewood

    Love & Basketball is a 2000 American romantic drama film starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan....  more
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    #122 of 150 The Most Inspirational Sports Movies#275 of 291 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

  • Waiting to Exhale4

    Waiting to Exhale

    Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett


    Directed byForest Whitaker

    Waiting to Exhale is a 1995 American romantic drama film directed by Forest Whitaker, based on...  more
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    #277 of 782 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made#55 of 101 The Best Black Romance Movies, Ranked

  • Poetic Justice5

    Poetic Justice

    Janet Jackson, Keanu Reeves


    Directed byJohn Singleton

    Poetic Justice is a 1993 drama/romance film starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur with...  more
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  • What's Love Got to Do with It6

    What's Love Got to Do with It

    Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne


    Directed byBrian Gibson

    What's Love Got to Do with It is a 1993 American biographical film directed by Brian Gibson,...  more
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    #10 of 55 The Best Biopics About Women#191 of 264 Movies That Should Be Made Into Broadway Musicals

  • Lean on Me7

    Lean on Me

    Morgan Freeman, Tony Todd


    Directed byJohn G. Avildsen

    Lean on Me is a 1989 dramatized biographical film written by Michael Schiffer, directed by...  more
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  • Ray8


    Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx


    Directed byTaylor Hackford

    Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray...  more
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    #304 of 1,189 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#21 of 661 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

  • The Color Purple9

    The Color Purple

    Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    The Color Purple is a 1985 American period drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on...  more
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  • Malcolm X10

    Malcolm X

    Denzel Washington, Al Sharpton


    Directed bySpike Lee

    Malcolm X is a 1992 American biographical drama film about the African-American activist...  more
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  • Soul Food11

    Soul Food

    Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long


    Directed byGeorge Tillman, Jr.

    Soul Food is a 1997 American comedy-drama film, produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Tracey...  more
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    #109 of 144 The Funniest Black Movies Ever Made#17 of 95 The Best Black Movies Of The 1990s

  • Remember the Titans12

    Remember the Titans

    Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Gosling


    Directed byBoaz Yakin

    Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and...  more
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  • Antwone Fisher13

    Antwone Fisher

    Denzel Washington, Viola Davis


    Directed byDenzel Washington

    Antwone Fisher is a 2002 American biographical drama film directed by and starring Denzel...  more
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  • Hidden Figures14

    Hidden Figures

    Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer


    Directed byTheodore Melfi

    Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, based on...  more
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  • The Wood15

    The Wood

    Christina Milian, Sanaa Lathan


    Directed byRick Famuyiwa

    The Wood is a 1999 romantic comedy, written by Rick Famuyiwa and Todd Boyd. Famuyiwa also...  more
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  • Dreamgirls16


    Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy


    Directed byBill Condon

    Dreamgirls is a 2006 American musical drama film, directed by Bill Condon and jointly produced...  more
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  • The Help17

    The Help

    Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain


    Directed byTate Taylor

    The Help is a 2011 American period drama film directed and written by Tate Taylor, and adapted...  more
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    #52 of 261 The Best Ensemble Movies#4 of 46 30+ Great Period Films with a 1960s Aesthetic

  • The Pursuit of Happyness18

    The Pursuit of Happyness

    Will Smith, Thandie Newton


    Directed byGabriele Muccino

    The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on Chris Gardner's...  more
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  • 12 Years a Slave19

    12 Years a Slave

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender


    Directed bySteve McQueen

    12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853...  more
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  • Do the Right Thing20

    Do the Right Thing

    Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence


    Directed bySpike Lee

    Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama hood film produced, written, and directed...  more
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    #19 of 63 Movies Set in Brooklyn#12 of 12 Movies Where The Cast And Crew Disagreed About Its Meaning

  • Fruitvale Station21

    Fruitvale Station

    Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz


    Directed byRyan Coogler

    Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Ryan Coogler, based...  more
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    #45 of 126 The Greatest Directorial Debuts Of All Time#27 of 85 The Greatest African American Biopics

  • Ali22


    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx


    Directed byMichael Mann

    Ali is a 2001 American biographical film directed by Michael Mann. The film tells the story of...  more
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  • How Stella Got Her Groove Back23

    How Stella Got Her Groove Back

    Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett


    Directed byKevin Rodney Sullivan

    How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a 1998 romantic comedy film directed by Kevin Rodney...  more
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  • Hustle & Flow24

    Hustle & Flow

    Taraji P. Henson, Ludacris


    Directed byCraig Brewer

    Hustle & Flow is a 2005 American independent drama film written and directed by Craig Brewer...  more
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  • Glory25


    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington


    Directed byEdward Zwick

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