ShowBizClan is honoring the work of Black filmmakers and performers, as well as the tales they’ve brought to our screens over the last three decades. This list includes the best-reviewed black drama movies from the 1990s to the present. Some of today’s most distinctive voices in the film may be found here, as well as some of the most game-changing, industry-shaking films to reach theatres in decades.
We defined Black films as those with African-American plots and characters, as well as those made by African-American filmmakers and well-received by African-American audiences, such as Black Panther. Finally, we used a weighted algorithm to rank the films, considering each entry’s year of release and the number of reviews received.
The outcome of all that work is our list of the top black drama movies of the century, which you can find below. It’s packed with laughter, thrills, tears, and wisdom. So have a look, and let us know what you think of the list, if you believe we missed a title, or if you want to congratulate a film that didn’t quite satisfy the Certified Fresh criterion in the comments. We picked the best 15 Certified Fresh Black flicks to build our ranking.
Black Drama Movies List :
15- Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Release date: July 2, 1991 (USA)
Director: John Singleton
Produced by: Steve Nicolaides
Budget: $6.5 million
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Stars: Cuba Gooding, Jr.Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir
Why: John Singleton brought a unique inside view of in his eyes what was happening in the black communities of South Central Los Angeles. The “Boyz” in Boyz n the Hood are three young men who have lived in the black communities all their lives and have seen countless people come and go through murder and conviction.
There are constant themes of growing up and stopping the violence that reoccurs during the story’s duration. The story is divided into two chunks, one when the boys are 6 and 11 years later when they turn 17. As kids, they always saw gang violence, armed robberies, assault, and battery. This inspired one of the kids to become like one of the people he saw running around committing crimes.
Plot: The dramatization of socioeconomic difficulties in inner-city Los Angeles, California, by writer and filmmaker John Singleton takes the shape of a storey about three friends developing up in the “hood.” Doughboy and Ricky Baker, half-brothers, have personalities that are a perfect fit for one other, yet they handle their challenging lives in very different ways.
Ricky, an “All-American” athlete vying for a football scholarship at USC, hopes for redemption via athletics. Doughboy, on the other hand, succumbs to the violence, drunkenness, and criminality that pervades his environment, yet he maintains a strong sense of dignity and honour. Despite the fact that Tre Styles has a father, Furious Styles encourages his friend Tre Styles to have the strength of character to do what is right and to always accept responsibility for his actions.
14- Jackie Brown (1997)
Release date: December 25, 1997 (USA)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Adapted from: Rum Punch
Box office: $74.7 million Distributed by: Miramax
Nominations: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, MORE
Why: If you’re looking for the trademark blood-soaked black drama movies, hyperkinetic Tarantino experience, this is a decided departure and may not be your cup of tea. But taken on its own merits, this piece makes for an enjoyable watch. The plot is serviceable, but the main attractions are the characters and the atmosphere carefully cultivated by this director.
Pam Grier’s outsized presence here makes one wonder why Hollywood has so criminally underused her, and Robert Forster’s sad-eyed turn as her smitten bail bondsmen accomplice is heartbreakingly sincere. Throw in a DeNiro performance as a spectacularly clueless henchman and Samuel L. Jackson’s chilling turn as a small-time gun a smuggler with big dreams, and there is a lot to like, though the pace lags in a couple of places.
Plot: Tarantino depicts the same incident from many character views in a lovely section of the novel, but this is not self-indulgence. Instead, Tarantino keeps his cool, not allowing his stylistic flourishes to detract from the people we’ve been so attached to. Another of his achievements is bringing Pam Grier and Robert Forster to the forefront, providing outstanding performances. Thanks to their superb characterizations, Jackie Brown is most emotional and purposeful through these two.
13- City of God (2002)
Release date: August 30, 2002 (Brazil)
Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Cinematography: César Charlotte
Adapted from: City of God
Languages: Portuguese, English
Distributed by: Miramax, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, SPI International
Why: The movie is marvelous! This movie is one of the best black drama movies is beautifully narrated and presented in chapters based on real-life stories. Initial chapters focus on the character build-up of every main character.
The middle ones are based on the massive drug empire and how it affects each character’s personal life. The last ones include typical gang rivalry and the rise of the movie’s narrator as a daring & successful photographer. Overall, it’s just a delight to watch. If you do some research, you’ll find that this is a pretty good representation of a true-crime story.
Plot: In the film’s middle, an armed gang chases down an escaped chicken in the Cidade de Deus favela (“City of God”). Between the group and the narrator, Rocket, a young man, the chicken comes to a halt. The group decides not to murder anyone and assigns Li’l Dice to a watchdog. Instead, Li’l Dice shoots the hotel guests after falsely informing them that the cops are on their way.
The police response to the massacre is so intense that the three are forced to break up: Clipper joins the Church. While attempting to flee the favela, Shaggy is shot by the cops. While Li’l Dice’s pal Benny, Shaggy’s brother, observes, Li’l Dice shoots goose after collecting his money.
12- Malcolm X (1992)
Release date: November 18, 1992 (USA)
Director: Spike Lee Music by: Terence Blanchard
Box office: $73 million
Adapted from: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures, Largo Entertainment
Why: A movie that exposes the ideological differences though having a common goal leading to revenge so actual which is prevalent in recent times where the noble thoughts of Malcolm X tainted and misconceived in the history. The story tells us about the revelations a person gains throughout his life journey and wards off his past misconceptions.
This black drama film is indeed a masterpiece by Denzel Washington. A screenplay was typical of a true biographical movie genre. This movie is loyal to its source material, and viewers can tell that Spike Lee did his research. It pushed boundaries as far as reasonably told in a three-hour movie. I also enjoyed the final montage as it showed Malcolm X’s far-reaching impact.
Plot: Malcolm Little is a Caribbean mother and an African-American father who grew up in an impoverished family in rural Michigan. Malcolm’s family’s home was set on fire while he was a small child, and his father, a civil rights advocate, was assassinated by a section of the Black Legion. His death is legally classified as a suicide, and his family is not compensated.
Malcolm’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother Their mental health begins to worsen, and she is sent to a mental facilityMalcolm has been placed in protective custody with his siblings. Malcolm is bright and aspires to be a lawyer, but his teacher discourages him due to his race.
11- White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Release date: March 27, 1992 (USA)
Director: Ron Shelton
Music by: Bennie Wallace
Budget: $31 million
Produced by: David V. Lester; Don Miller; Michelle Rappaport
Distributed by: 20th Century Studios
Why: Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson have terrific on-screen chemistry in “White Men Can’t Jump.” It is brilliant black drama movies about street hustling Basketball.
You don’t need to be a Basketball fan or a fan of the two lead Actors who enjoy this movie. This is a cracking and gritty drama about belief and trust where it’s hard to hustle and make a living and even easier to get hustled, especially if you let your guard down, even with those you trust. This is a pulsating movie played out on the Basketball courts of the ghetto and is a delightful experience.
Plot: Billy Hoyle is a former collegiate basketball star who now lives among hustlers who believe he can’t play well because he’s white. Sidney Deane is a gifted but arrogant basketball player who is defeated twice by Billy, initially in a half-court team game and subsequently in a one-on-one money shootout.
Gloria, who wants Billy to find a stable job, is unhappy with him for squandering his money yet again, but as Billy explains what happened, she realises he was misled. They go to Sidney’s apartment and beg his wife Rhonda for justice, and the two women agree to split the money if Sidney and Billy team up for a major two-on-two outdoor competition.
10- American Gangster (2007)
Release date: October 19, 2007 (USA)
Director: Ridley Scott
Based on: “The Return of Superfly”; by Mark Jacobson
Featured song: Do You Feel Me
Box office: 266.5 million USD
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures Studios, Universal Pictures, Relativity Media
Why: American Gangster is an excellent film with a well-crafted plot and a strong cast. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe were great fits for their roles. I was taken aback because they don’t seem to be playing characters they’re used to; it was also a different movie for director Ridley Scott. However, he did an awe-inspiring job with it.
The character development in this movie is practically perfect; you must follow Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington’s characters, and I didn’t feel like they left out a lot of information and took their time letting us get to know these characters. I would highly recommend American Gangster for all fans of gangster crime films and black drama movies.
Plot: Following in the footsteps of his boss and mentor, Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas has established himself as the number one heroin importer in Manhattan’s Harlem neighbourhood. He does so by obtaining heroin straight from the source in Southeast Asia and setting up a plan to import opioids into the United States.
As a consequence, his product is better than what is currently on the market, and his costs are lower. Because of his ties to the New York Mafia, his position is secure. Richie Roberts, a dedicated and honourable cop who oversees a joint drugs task force with federal officials, is also featured. This movie is based on a true storey.
9- Remember the Titans (2000)
Release date: September 23, 2000 (USA)
Written by: Gregory Allen Howard
Director: Boaz Yakin
Featured song: Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
Why: Remember the Titans is arguably one of the greatest black drama movies ever made. I say that because it is not just a sports movie but a movie that we all can learn many lessons about living together as one community. 1971 T.C. Williams Titan Football team came together in a very racially tense period in our country.
Yet, they taught a community how to live with each other no matter what race you may belong to. Their example through football paved the way for the community of Alexandria, Va. to find common ground and build there. This is still relevant today.
Plot: Schools in suburban Virginia have been segregated for generations. Finally, due to federal legislation, one Black and one White high school are shuttered, and students are relocated to T.C. Williams High School.
The plot follows the football squad as the man who was hired to coach the Black school is promoted to head coach, despite having a successful track record. Based on genuine events from 1971, the group becomes the community’s unifying sign as the youngsters and adults begin to count on and believe one another.
8- The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Release date: December 13, 1996 (USA)
Director: Penny Marshall Adapted from The Bishop’s Wife
Box office: 57 million USD
Screenplay: Nat Mauldin, Allan Scott, Leonardo Bercovici, Robert E. Sherwood Distributed by: Touchstone Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Touchstone Home Entertainment
Why: This is a remake of the 1947 film The Bishop’s Wife. Denzel Washington plays the angel, dripping charisma in every scene. Courtney B. Vance plays the preacher, and his performance is well done. This movie is well put together and acted well. The film’s highlight is the soundtrack, but here is where it went off the rails for me.
Whitney Houston plays the preacher’s wife, and the part was written specifically to highlight her ability to sing. Houston is a fabulous singer, and she plays her part in these black drama movies well, but the movie felt like I was watching a Whitney Houston concert with a plot instead of a film. The soundtrack is filled with gospel and Christmas music, and I recommend you to watch “The Preacher’s Wife” if you are addicted to black drama movies.
Plot: Good-natured Reverend Henry Biggs’ marriage to singing mistress Julia is suffering the consequences of his frequent absences from the underprivileged community where they live. On top of that, Joe Hamilton, a property developer, is threatening his Church. In hopelessness, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help, and help arrives in the appearance of an gem named Dudley. Unfortunately, Dudley’s presence appears to be causing even more havoc.
7- Paid in Full (2002)
Release date: October 25, 2002 (USA)
Director: Charles Stone III
Box office: $3.1 million
Written by: Matthew Cirulnick; Thulani Davis; Azie Faison (earlier screenplay) Music by Vernon Reid and Frank Fitzpatrick.
Distributed by: Miramax, Dimension Films
Why: It’s one of the most underappreciated coming-of-age black drama movies ever made. A fantastic and gripping criminal drama. The cast of Paid in Full could not be more perfect. Every actor does an excellent job of portraying their character without destroying the sense of disbelief. Character faults are shown and how they impact their drug peddling operation.
The creative scene-building possibilities are mind-blowing. Scenes with Scarface are interwoven, speech is combined with action, and stunning colors are used, among other things. This film has the quality of an A++ film. For all of the work that made this film, they created a masterpiece.
Plot: At PAID IN FULL, Ace works in a Harlem laundry in the mid-1980s, struggling to make ends meet. On the contrary, his pal. Mitch makes a lot of money as a drug dealer. At the same time as Mitch and Calvin, another drug dealer, are captured and condemned to prison, Ace meets Lulu, who encourages Ace to start delivering cocaine.
Ace more than makes up for Mitch and Calvin’s absence, and the money starts to flow. Unfortunately, things take a massive turn for the worse when Calvin attempts to rob Ace at his Aunt June’s apartment. Ace narrowly escapes the tragedy, while Mitch’s younger brother is abducted and held for ransom at the same time. Even though Ace has recovered and now wishes to leave the game, he must find out who is behind the kidnapping to exit victorious and alive.
6- Life Support (2007 TV Movie)
Initial release: January 26, 2007
Director: Nelson George
Producer: Mark A. Baker
Music composed by: Stuart Matthewman
Awards: Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television, MORE
Nominations: Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television, MORE
Why: Life Support is a candid and entertaining look at the AIDS pandemic in the US today and its impact on African-American women and other individuals. The narrative is well-paced, and the performance is strong; Queen Latifah leads a talented ensemble, and the photography is superb.
Life Support demonstrates that Lady is capable of not just handling a serious tragic part, but also turning it into a tour de force. Is it possible that no one can relate to this film? an amazing narrative, Queen Latifah’s outstanding performance, and two of Diana Ross’s children? On this black drama movies, I tried hard not to cry.
Plot: Ana Wallace a former crack addict who is now HIV positive and a volunteer with Life Support in Brooklyn, New York. This group promotes the African American community’s battle against AIDS. Ana walks the streets handing out condoms and providing AIDS support through lectures and counseling.
She lives with her Buddy Slick, AIDS, and their little daughter Kim. Kelly, her oldest daughter, is now in the custody of her estranged mother, Lucille. When Kelly’s boyhood homosexual buddy Amare vanishes on the streets of Brooklyn, ill and spurned by his sister Tanya, Ana seeks him out and attempts to heal him. Meanwhile, Lucille and Kelly decide to go to Virginia, while Ana thinks about her Life and Kelly’s relationship.
5- What’s Love Got to Do with It
Release date: June 9, 1993 (USA)
Director: Brian Gibson
Featured song: What’s Love Got to Do with It
Adapted from: I, Tina Box office: $61 million
Distributed by: Touchstone Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Touchstone Home Entertainment
Why: Love the focus on her childhood and early adulthood. The shooting scene was well done. The story overall was heartbreaking. She was abandoned then abused later, but I’m glad she prevailed.
It was powerful and well done. Angela and Laurence did such a great job. I think these black drama movies is excellent. It shows how strong of a woman she is, and it also displays how we can accomplish or get through anything, no matter what obstacles come our way.
Plot: The tone of Anna Mae Bullock was easily recognisable. After moving to St. Louis to reside with her family, who had left her when she was a youngster, she swiftly caught the concentration of pop group leader Ike Turner and She marries him and becomes his mother, however not all of his offspring are hers. She found herself increasingly the target of his wrath, unaware to the fact that she is the driving reason behind his band’s success. She finds herself the target of increased violence from him, despite her love for him and determination not to leave like her mother.
4- Love & Basketball
Release date: April 16, 2000 (USA)
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Music by: Terence Blanchard
Produced by: Spike Lee; Sam Kitt
Production company: 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Why: I praise Love & Basketball. My only favorite character that I praise is Coach Davis; I love her extended dialogue in the deleted scene of Love & Basketball. I praise Coach Davis’s extended scene. However, they need to restore Coach Davis’s extended scene for future rereleases of Love & Basketball.
Plot: In 1981, Monica moved Close by to Quincy in Los Angeles. They’re both 11 years old and want to be like Quincy’s father and play in the NBA. Unless Quincy’s parents argue and he sneaks into Monica’s room to sleep on the floor, Monica and Quincy’s love-hate relationship lasts through high school, with Monica’s edge and Quincy’s top-dog attitude dividing them.
As high school finishes, they start a couple, but Quincy’s relationship with his father worsens after a year of baseball at USC, resulting in Monica’s divorce. They cross paths again a few years later, at a junction in their professional paths. It’s time for the final one-on-one game of the season.
Release date: December 15, 1989 (USA)
Director: Edward Zwick
Music by: James Horner
Awards: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture, MORE
Adapted from: One Gallant Rush, Lay This Laurel; An Album on the Saint-Gaudens Memorial on Boston Common
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Why: An intense human drama where the situations are very much contemporary. From the outset, the human species has struggled to dominate other human beings. Despite shared goals and motivations, few people can overcome biases or, more particularly, superiority complexes to protect fairness and justice.
This film by Edward Zwick may not be fast-paced like “Last Samurai “and “Blood Diamond, “Director Zwick’s magic touch is evident throughout the proceedings. All the lead characters give their best performances. Mathew Broderick gives an outstanding performance, and so are others. You see a young Denzel Washington who later treated us as” Book of Eli,” “Safe House,” and “Equaliser” series. A must-watch for black drama movies historians.
Plot: During American Civil War, Shaw offered leading the very first black men in the National Military. Shaw was hated by both the opponent (who had been ordered to assassinate black leading officers) and his own officers.
2- 12 Years an enslaved person
Release date: February 7, 2014 (Pakistan)
Director: Steve McQueen Box office: 187.7 million USD
Adapted from: Twelve Years an enslaved person
Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture, MORE
Distributed by: Searchlight Pictures, Entertainment One, Mars Distribution, Filmcompagniet, SF Studios
Why: What a whirlwind of emotions this film was! It was surprising, thought-provoking, instructive, and fascinating all simultaneously. The film depicts the bleak reality of slavery in the nineteenth century in an excruciatingly slow and harsh manner. Before this film, I had never been a big admirer of Brad Pitt, but the heroic persona seems to fit him.
Solomon, the main character, delivered an outstanding performance and performed with genuine feeling in every moment. Be warned: this film is not for the faint of heart and will make you feel ashamed of humanity at times.
Plot: Based on a true event of a man’s fight for survival and freedom. Prior to the Civil War, A free black man named Solomon Northup from New York was abducted and traded into bondage in the US. Solomon fights to keep his pride in the face of brutality, symbolizing a vicious enslaver and surprising kindnesses. Solomon had a lucky meeting with a Canadian activist in the 12th year of his best journey that would forever change his life.
1- Raising Dion (TV-PG) 2019
Premiere date: October 4, 2019
Cast: Ja’Siah Young, Alisha Wainwright, Sammi Haney
Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
TV rating: TV-PG
Award: Common Sense Selection
Last updated: February 27, 2022
Why: A lighthearted series depicts the origins of a budding superhero. I enjoy how it depicts the difficulties of being a young single mom. Dion attempts to control his superpowers, which he is both terrified of and fascinated by. The series does an excellent job of blending science fiction with realism.
I like Dion and his mother; she demonstrates how much she adores her kid despite his differences. And the youngster who plays Celine Dion is fantastic. Also, I understand that he might be unpleasant at times, but he is only a child. Jason Ritter, Dion’s tutor, shows in and steals a few moments. The effects are sound, and I hope it will be as successful as Stranger Things.
Plot: When a widowed single mother finds that her kid possesses superhuman abilities, she must figure out how to raise him safely and responsibly. When a widowed single mother finds that her kid possesses superhuman abilities, she must figure out how to raise him safely and responsibly.
Conclusion: The films listed above are the best black drama movies. All are worth seeing. They will make you think, and they will make you feel. Also, check the best korean zombie movies. Don’t forget to share your feedback right in the comment box.