This is not a comprehensive list of movies released in the past ten years, that featured a Black cast, or had Black directors, or writers. This is just a list of movies, listed by year, that I thought were the most influential, that I actually watched, liked, or know other people really loved, for that particular year. There have been a lot more released than what’s on this list, but 2018 was a record year for the number of Black films released, and/or nominated for awards.
In my mind, the past ten years has been one of the Blackest decades in film, since the 90s, not just because of the number of movies released, but the quality of the films, and the attention and writing surrounding them, thanks to social media. Black Panther, and Get Out were probably two of the most written about Black films in cinema. There is an encyclopedic number of writings on these films, examining everything from the plot, themes, and characters, to wardrobe, and hairstyles. In fact, writing about Black films has almost become an industry in itself.
For Colored Girls – an adaptation of the book by Ntozake Shange, and written and directed by Tyler Perry.
*Book Of Eli – Denzel Washington stars as a blind man, traveling through an apocalyptic landscape, carrying precious cargo.
Lottery Ticket – Not one of my favorite films, since I’m not a huge fan of such broad humor, but it is a reminder that Black comedies, in the tradition of Friday, are alive and well.
*The Help – Again, this is not one of my favorites but I’m putting this movie here because it is often in attendance at conversations about the White Savior trope in movies.
Madea’s Big Happy Family – Madea is the only Tyler Perry character I can stand to watch, but it greatly appeals to people with a certain form of humor that I don’t particularly share, and it helped make Tyler Perry one of the wealthiest Black men in Hollywood.
*Beasts of the Southern Wild – The story about a little girl growing up in a dysfunctional family in Louisiana.
*Django Unchained – A cathartic fantasy Western starring Jamie Foxx.
12 Years A Slave – Oscar nominated film directed by Steve McQueen, and based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup.
*Belle – One of my favorite historical films, because historical films about Black women, that don’t prominently feature slavery, are kind of rare.
*After Earth – I’m one of the few people who actually loved this depiction of a Black father and son’s relationship, set in the far future.
Fruitvale Station – Ryan Coogler’s Oscar nominated film before Creed, based on the true story of the shooting of a young Black man in a NY subway station.
Dear White People – About a Black student who runs a radio program at a White college.
*Ride Along – An action film, in the vein of Bad Boys, starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.
*Selma – One of the first Oscar nominated films directed by a Black woman, Ava Duverney, and based on the true life story of MLK.
Beasts of No Nation – A movie starring Idris Elba about child soldiers in an unnamed African country.
*Creed – Ryan Coogler’s second film after Fruitvale Station starring Slyvester Stallone and Michael. B. Jordan.
Dope – The coming of age story of a Black boy in California
*Chocolate City – Black cinema’s answer to the male stripper movie, Magic Mike
Straight Outta Compton – The backstory of the Rap group N.W.A.
Fences – Based on the play of the same name, by August Wilson, and starring Denzel Washington, and Viola Davis
*Hidden Figures – Based on the real life stories of the Black women involved in the US Space program
*Magnificent Seven – A remake of the 1960 movie with the same name, and starrring Denzel Washington in a diverse cast.
*Moonlight – Oscar winning movie about the early life of a young gay Balck man in California.
Queen of Katwe – About a young female chess player in Uganda, starring Lupita Nyongo, and directed by Mira Nair
All Eyez On Me- The stardom story of the rap artist Tupac Shakur
*Get Out – Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is a horror movie about white racist bodysnatchers.
**Girls Trip – A comedy starring an all Black female cast, including Queen Latifah, and one of the top comedies of the year.
Marshall – A legal drama about Thurgood Marshall, directed by Reginald Hudlin
*Sleight – A superhero origin story of a young Black man who builds a device which gives him magnetic powers.
BlackKlansman – Award nominated film by Spike Lee about a Black undercover agent infiltrating the KKK.
*Black Panther – Award nominated superhero movie about the King of a fictional African country called Wakanda, and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
**First Purge – The fourth film in The Purge franchise, focusing on the original purpose of The Purge, and set in a Black neighborhood.
The Hate U Give – A drama based on the book by Angie Thomas, about a young girl dealing with the aftermath of witnessing the police shooting of her friend.
If Beale Street Could Talk – Based on the book by James Baldwin, a young woman is under pressure to prove her lover’s innocence before the birth of their child.
*Sorry to Bother You – Award nominated film about a telemarketer who discovers he has magical voice powers.
*Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse – Oscar winning animated film about the Afro-Latino Spiderman, Miles Morales.
Widows – An action thriller staring Viola Davis. A group of widows pick up where their husbands left off after they get killed in a bank heist.
*A Wrinkle In Time – A film based on the young adult novel by Madleine L’engle, and directed by Ava Duverney.
*Us – Jordan Peele’s second horror movie, about a family terrorized by a group of doppelgangers, while vacationing with friends.
21 Bridges – A cop thriller starring Chadwick Boseman.
**Black and Blue – A Black female cop witnesses a murder by her fellow officers, who along with a neighborhood gang, set after her in pursuit, before she can become an informant.
*Fast Color – About three generations of Black women, with super abilities, who have a family reckoning, after one of them becomes a person of interest to the American government.
*Dolemite is My Name – an award nominated biographical comedy about the Blaxploitation director Rudy Ray Moore, starring Eddie Murphy.
Harriet – The semi-biographical story of Harriet Tubman
*Little – A comedy about a mean Black woman who wakes up one morning as a little girl. The movie has an all female cast, and was produced by the 14 year old Marsai Martin.
Queen and Slim – A young Black couple goes on the run, becoming folk heroes, after they kill a police officer who threatened their lives.
The past ten years was seemingly a record for the number of movies released that had Black casts, contained Black themes, or had Black writers and directors, which reached mainstream audiences, or won critical acclaim. Of all the films I listed, twenty of them were either nominated, or won, mainstream awards.
These movies were also rich in their variety, and I have to give credit for that. We have a full roster of comedies, superhero movies, thrillers, and even horror, and I hope this is a trend that continues. It’s not just that we need more films with Black artists, we also need more variety in the films that get made, instead of an emphasis on only crime or historical misery.
Forthcoming in 2020:
**Antebellum – A historical genre bending mystery starring Janelle Monae
Bad Boys For Life – Action movie sequel starring Will Smith
**Tenet – Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending mystery thriller starring John David Washington
**Respect – An Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson
Soul – Animated film from Pixar, about a Black jazz player navigating the afterlife
Coming 2 America – Sequel to the 90s comedy starring Eddie Murphy
**Candyman – A remake of the original 90s classic, directed by Jordan Peele
Trial of the Chicago Seven
**No Time To Die – Starring one of the first Back female agents in the franchise who takes over the 007 title.May be Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond.
**Bloodshot – an action sci-fi thriller starring Vin Diesel
The Lovebirds – A romantic comedy thriller starring Issa Rae.
**John Henry – Action drama starring Terry Crews
*Indicates that I’ve actually watched a movie.