Black History Month is regarded as a time to put a spotlight on and celebrate everything that Black people have contributed to the world as we know it. From our importance in the shaping of history itself to our contributions in the development of modern society in the forms of fashion and style, music, film and television, and even politics, Black culture surrounds us more than people may realize. And what better way to embrace this than with a marathon of popular and culture shifting movies featuring Black actors and actresses or filmed by a Black director.
Here is a short list of movies that you would definitely want to add to your own must-watch list this month. And if you’ve already seen them, then you’ll probably want to watch them over and over again:
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Kicking off this list is what’s become regarded as a cult classic, and for good reason too. This 1990 comedy film stars popular hip-hop duo Kid and Play alongside a star-studded cast of other artists and actors as they throw one of the greatest house parties ever. With high energy pumping all throughout and a danceable soundtrack, this light-hearted take on classic teenage hijinks certainly helped inspire a whole generation of people to throw 90s themed parties for years to come.
Director: Spike Lee
Spike directs, as well as stars, in this classic film about a particularly hot day in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York. With racial tensions running high, an argument over Black representation in an Italian pizzeria leads to an explosive situation with fatal consequences. If it’s any indication of how impactful this film is, Do The Right Thing is currently reserved in the National Film Registry and has been spoofed and referenced in various other media. Not to mention its cultural and historical significance, with an art direction that immediately feels familiar.
Director: John Singleton
In his directorial debut, John Singleton supplies yet another worthy addition to the National Film Registry. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., and Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut in their first major motion picture appearances, Boyz N The Hood portrays the dark realities of life for many young black men growing up in a drug-riddled and often dangerous environment. Audiences will instantly feel for Gooding’s character Tre Styles as they watch him struggle to navigate an often unforgiving setting he has no control over and reel in sadness when tragedy eventually strikes one of his own.
Director: Ernest Dickerson
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is the general theme for this tale of four friends facing a sudden challenge in their moralities when a gun lands in their possession. Featuring Tupac Shakur in his acting debut, as well as Omar Epps, Khalil Kain, and Jermaine Hopkins, Juice examines how the introduction of power to those who feel powerless can have negative results if not handled properly. As well as ask the question: When your world is constantly filled with images and displays of violence, is it possible to avoid being pulled into the mix of it all?
Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood (1996)
Director: Paris Barclay
The Wayans family is well known for their parodies of everything pop culture has to offer, and this hilarious send-up of classic 90s crime and hood dramas is no different. Taking references from movies like Menace II Society, and the aforementioned Boyz N The Hood, Juice, and Do The Right Thing, the movie pays homage to, as well as makes fun of, the various clichés found in these coming of age tales. You’ll be laughing all the way until the very end.
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
This modern-day coming of age story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever felt out of place while navigating the social structures of highschool. Shameik Moore plays as Malcolm Adekanbi, a “geek” hoping to get into his dream school: Harvard University. Though this may seem like an easy task to him, things don’t ever go exactly as planned and Malcolm finds himself on a wild adventure to deliver drugs or risk losing his college recommendation. With a cast of eccentric characters consisting of A$AP Rocky, Zoe Kravitz, and Lakeith Stanfield, this movie is sure to lighten any mood.
Director: Justin Simien
Not many are aware that before becoming a Netflix Original Series, Dear White People was a film that premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Detailing the events that directly preceded the beginning of the series, the film stars Tessa Thompson as our heroine Samantha “Sam” White, as well as Brandon P. Bell in his recognizable role as Troy Fairbanks. You could even make a binge-day out of this viewing by following it up with the first season of the show.
Get Out (2017)
Director: Jordan Peele
Comedic talent Jordan Peele shocked everyone with the release of this satirical horror film about a Black man meeting his White girlfriend’s family for the first time with an unforeseen twist. Though having its humorous moments, the film played on a genuine sense of unease within the Black community regarding the different forms of racism with successful results. This is definitely a movie you’ll watch over again just to catch new details you may have missed.
Director: Barry Jenkins
This Oscar award-winning film tells the coming of age story of a young black man as he explores ideas regarding both his identity and sexuality. A cinematic masterpiece told in three parts from youth to adolescence to young adulthood, Moonlight is not just a story about a gay black man, but an examination of one’s life and its many complexities. It also features a star-studded cast consisting of Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali, and Janelle Monae.
The list doesn’t just stop there. Here are a few other Black movies that you should check out this month:
The Color Purple, Soul Food, New Jack City, Fruitvale Station, Ali, Set It Off, Friday, The Best Man, Love Jones, Crooklyn, School Daze, Girl’s Trip, Brown Sugar, Love & Basketball, Roots