Entertainment

The Most Inspirational Black Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated June 14, 2019 2.4k votes 503 voters 38.2k views 33 items

Watching a movie about someone succeed in achieving a lofty goal can lift your spirits and encourage you to keep trying in your own life. The best inspirational black films feature characters fighting adversity to do great things for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. This is a list of the top inspiring African American films including everything from Remember the Titans to The Color Purple to Ray.

What films will you find on this list of the best inspiring black movies? The historical drama? Glory appears here. This 1989 film told the story of a military unit made up entirely of African Americans who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. Denzel Washington took home an Oscar for his portrayal of Private Silas Trip in the movie. Akeelah and the Bee is another great inspirational film. Will Smith played a homeless man who turned things around to become a successful entrepreneur in The Pursuit of Happyness. Other inspirational black movies featured on this list include Lean on Me, The Jackie Robinson Story, and Hidden Figures.

Which movie do you think is the most inspiring? Vote your favorites up to the top and please add any films that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Hidden Figures is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Hidden Figures Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe
2
Remember the Titans is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

3
Coach Carter is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Channing Tatum, Samuel L. Jackson, Ashanti

Released: 2005

Directed by: Thomas Carter

Coach Carter is a 2005 American biographical sports drama film directed by Thomas Carter. It is based on a true story of Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter portrayed by Samuel L. ...more

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#29 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #36 of 50 The Most Woke Movies of All Time

4
The Color Purple is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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
Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

6
The Pursuit of Happyness... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

7
Selma is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

8
Black Panther is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
KwameObiri-Addai added Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o

Released: 2018

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Black Panther is a 2018 American superhero film, based on the Marvel Comics character, directed by Ryan Coogler. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) ...more

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#825 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies 15+ Easter Eggs And References Most People Completely Missed In Black Pantherlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
The Great Debaters is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Jurnee Smollett

Released: 2007

Directed by: Denzel Washington

The Great Debaters is a 2007 American biopic period drama film directed by and starring Denzel Washington and produced by Oprah Winfrey and her production company, Harpo Productions. It is based ...more
10
Lean on Me is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

11
Hotel Rwanda is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle

Released: 2004

Directed by: Terry George

Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 American historical drama film directed by Terry George. It was adapted from a screenplay written by both George and Keir Pearson. It stars Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo ...more

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#30 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #125 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #94 of 379 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked

12
42 is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Harrison Ford, Christopher Meloni, Nicole Beharie

Released: 2013

Directed by: Brian Helgeland

42 is a 2013 American biographical sports film written and directed by Brian Helgeland about the racial integration of American professional baseball by player Jackie Robinson, who wore jersey ...more

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#167 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #9 of 27 The Greatest African American Biopics

13
Antwone Fisher is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

15
Ray is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

16
Akeelah and the Bee is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Keke Palmer

Released: 2006

Directed by: Doug Atchison

Akeelah and the Bee is a 2006 American drama film written and directed by Doug Atchison. It tells the story of Akeelah Anderson, an 11-year-old girl who participates in the Scripps National ...more
17
Creed is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson

Released: 2015

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Creed is a 2015 American sports drama film directed by Ryan Coogler. The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson ...more

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#151 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #44 of 179 The Best Sports Movies Ever Made

18
Glory is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick

Released: 1989

Directed by: Edward Zwick

Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more

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#554 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #74 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
What's Love Got to Do wi... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Ala Hassan added 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

20
Men of Honor is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Charlize Theron, Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 2000

Directed by: George Tillman, Jr.

Men of Honor is a 2000 drama film, starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. The film was directed by George Tillman, Jr. It is inspired by the true story of Master chief petty officer Carl ...more

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#1,177 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #195 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

21
The Tuskegee Airmen is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
John Lithgow, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne

Released: 1995

Directed by: Robert Markowitz

The Tuskegee Airmen is a 1995 HBO television movie based on the exploits of an actual groundbreaking unit, the first African American combat pilots in the United States Army Air Corps, that ...more

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#102 of 379 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #54 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

22
Dreamgirls is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Inspirational Black 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

23
The Hurricane is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Rod Steiger

Released: 1999

Directed by: Norman Jewison

The Hurricane is a 1999 biographical film directed by Norman Jewison, and starring Denzel Washington. The script was adapted by Armyan Bernstein and Dan Gordon from the books Lazarus and the ...more

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#59 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #93 of 236 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
Red Tails is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Daniela Ruah, Bryan Cranston, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 2012

Directed by: Anthony Hemingway

Red Tails is a 2012 American film directed by Anthony Hemingway in his feature film directorial debut, and starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. The film is about the Tuskegee Airmen, a ...more

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#169 of 379 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #162 of 722 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #87 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

25
Queen of Katwe is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Inspirational Black Movies
Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine

Directed by: Mira Nair

Queen of Katwe is a 2016 American biographical sports drama film directed by Mira Nair. A Ugandan girl (Madina Nalwanga) sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of

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#151 of 385 The Best Movies Directed by Women #22 of 46 The Best Movies for Black Children, Ranked