100 Important Films About the Black Experience

100 Important Films About the Black Experience

For Black History Month, members of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) have curated a list of important feature films about the black experience, many of which you can find on Fandango’s streaming service, FandangoNOW.  These titles include films as wide-ranging as Oscar Micheaux’s ground-breaking 1919 movie, “The Homesteader” to Ryan Coogler’s 2018 Oscar-nominated “Black Panther,” as well as documentaries like “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts” and the TV movie, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” Use this list as a guide to revisit classics like Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” or to find waiting-to-be-rediscovered gems like Michael Schultz’s “Cooley High.” To find out more about the African American Film Critics Association, visit www.aafca.com  and follow @theaafca on Twitter.



1. “Do the Right Thing” (1989; Directed by Spike Lee; Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, Spike Lee, Robin Harris)


2. “The Color Purple” (1985; Directed by Steven Spielberg; Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey)

3. “12 Years a Slave” (2013; Directed by Steve McQueen; Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o)

4. “Claudine” (1974; Directed by John Berry; Diahann Carroll, James Earl Jones)

5. “Malcolm X” (1992; Directed by Spike Lee; Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett)

6. “Black Panther” (2018; Directed Ryan Coogler; Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright)

7. “Sounder” (1972; Directed by Martin Ritt; Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks)

8. “Moonlight” (2016; Directed by Barry Jenkins; Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Jharrel Jerome)

9. “Carmen Jones” (1954; Directed by Otto Preminger; Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte)

10. “Super Fly” (1972; Directed by Gordon Parks Jr.; Ron O’Neal, Carl Lee)

11. “Cooley High” (1975; Directed by Michael Schultz; Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris)


12. “Get Out” (2017; Directed by Jordan Peele; Daniel Kaluuya)

13. “Hoop Dreams” (1995; Directed by Steve James)

14. “Coming to America” (1988; Directed by John Landis; Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones)

15. “Ray” (2004; Directed by Taylor Hackford; Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington)

16. “O.J.: Made in America” (2016; Directed by Ezra Edelman)

17. “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” TV (1974; Directed by John Korty; Cicely Tyson)

18. “Bamboozled” (2000; Directed by Spike Lee; Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett Smith)

19. “Cotton Comes to Harlem” (1970; Directed by Ossie Davis; Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques)

20. “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert” (1979; Directed by Jeff Margolis)

21. “Shaft” (1971; Directed by Gordon Parks; Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn)

22. “Hidden Figures” (2016; Directed by Theodore Melfi; Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe)

23. “Friday” (1995; Directed by F. Gary Gray; Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long)

24. “Dreamgirls” (2006; Directed by Bill Condon; Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson)

25. “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961; Directed by Daniel Petrie; Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee)

26. “The Five Heartbeats” (1991; Directed by Robert Townsend; Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon)

27. “I Am Not Your Negro” (2016; Directed by Raoul Peck)

28. “Watermelon Man” (1970; Directed by Melvin Van Peebles; Godfrey Cambridge)

29. “City of God” (2002; Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund; Alexandre Rodrigues)

30. “Glory” (1989; Directed by Edward Zwick; Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher)

31. “Straight Outta Compton” (2015; Directed by F. Gary Gray; O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr.)

32. “Menace II Society” (1993; Directed by Allen and Albert Hughes; Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett Smith)

33. “Tsotsi” (2005; Directed by Gavin Hood; Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto)

34. “The Emperor Jones” (1933; Directed by Dudley Murphy; Paul Robeson)

35. “Eve’s Bayou” (1997; Directed by Kasi Lemmons; Samuel L. Jackson, Debbi Morgan, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Jurnee Smollett-Bell)

36. “Lilies of the Field” (1963; Directed by Ralph Nelson; Sidney Poitier)

37. “Soul Food” (1997; Directed by George Tillman Jr.; Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Mekhi Phifer)

38. “Black Caesar” (1973; Directed by Larry Cohen; Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry)

39. “Boyz N the Hood” (1991; Directed by John Singleton; Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube)

40. “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986; Directed by Spike Lee; Tracy Camilla Johns, Spike Lee, Tommy Redmond Hicks)

41. “Island in the Sun” (1957; Directed by Robert Rossen; Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge)

42. “In the Heat of the Night” (1967; Directed by Norman Jewison; Sidney Poitier)

43. “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972; Directed by Sidney J. Furie; Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor)

44. “When We Were Kings” (1996; Directed by Leon Gast)

45. “Love & Basketball” (2000; Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood; Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan)

46. “What’s Love Got to Do With It” (1993; Directed by Brian Gibson; Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne)

47. “The Mack” (1973; Directed by Michael Campus; Max Julien, Don Gordon, Richard Pryor)

48. “To Sleep With Anger” (1990; Directed by Charles Burnett; Danny Glover, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Mary Alice)

49. “Within Our Gates” (1920; Directed by Oscar Micheaux; Evelyn Preer, James D. Ruffin, Charles D. Lucas, Bernice Ladd, Jack Chenault, William Smith)

50. “Set It Off” (1996; Directed by F. Gary Gray; Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox)

51. “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” (1971; Directed by Melvin Van Peebles; Melvin Van Peebles, Mario Van Peebles)

52. “Waiting to Exhale” (1995; Directed by Forest Whitaker; Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine)

53. “Nothing But a Man” (1964; Directed by Michael Roemer; Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln)

54. “Blade” (1998; Directed by Stephen Norrington; Wesley Snipes, N’Bushe Wright)

55. “Devil in a Blue Dress” (1995; Directed by Carl Franklin; Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle)

56. “Sankofa” (1993; Directed by Haile Gerima; Kofi Ghanaba)

57. “Love Jones” (1997; Directed by Theodore Witcher; Nia Long, Larenz Tate, Isaiah Washington)

58. “A Rage in Harlem” (1991; Directed by Bill Duke; Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Robin Givens)

59. “A Soldier’s Story” (1984; Directed by Norman Jewison; Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Denzel Washington)

60. “A Dry White Season” (1989; Directed by Euzhan Palcy; Marlon Brando, Janet Suzman, Zakes Mokae, Susan Sarandon)

61. “Hollywood Shuffle” (1987; Directed by Robert Townsend; Robert Townsend, Anne-Marie Johnson, Keenen Ivory Wayans)

62. “Black Orpheus” (1959; Directed by Marcel Camus; Marpessa Dawn and Breno Mello)

63. “Stormy Weather” (1943; Directed by Andrew L. Stone; Bill Robinson, Lena Horne)

64. “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” (1988; Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans; Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jim Brown, Bernie Casey)

65. “Cabin in the Sky” (1943; Directed by Vincente Minnelli; Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong)

66. “Wattstax” (1973; Directed by Mel Stuart)

67. “Rosewood” (1997; Directed by John Singleton; Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Esther Rolle)

68. “To Sir, With Love” (1967; Directed by James Clavell; Sidney Poitier)

69. “New Jack City” (1991; Directed by Mario Van Peebles: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T)

70. “House Party” (1990; Directed by Reginald Hudlin; Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin, Robin Harris, Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell-Martin)

71. “The Green Pastures” (1936; Directed by Marc Connelly and William Keighley; Eddie “Rochester ” Anderson, Rex Ingram)

72. “Hotel Rwanda” (2004; Directed by Terry George; Don Cheadle, Sophie Okenedo)

73. “Home of the Brave” (1949; Directed by Mark Robson; James Edwards)

74. “Hallelujah” (1929; Directed by King Vidor; Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney)

75. “The River Niger” (1976; Directed by Krishna Shah; Cicley Tyson, James Earl Jones, Louis Gossett Jr.)

76. “Purple Rain” (1984; Directed by Albert Magnoli; Prince, Morris Day, Apollonia Kotero)

77. “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999; Directed by Martha Coolidge; Halle Berry) — TV

78. “Krush Groove” (1985; Directed by Michael Schultz; Blair Underwood, Sheila E.)

79. “La haine” (1995; Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz; Vincent Cassel)

80. “Sugar Cane Alley” (1983; Directed by Euzhan Palcy; Garry Cadenat)

81. “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts” (2006; Directed by Spike Lee)

82. “Touki Bouki (Journey of the Hyena)” (1973; Directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty; Magaye Niang and Mareme Niang)

83. “Juice” (1992; Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson; Tupac Shakur, Omar Epps, Queen Latifah)

84. “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974; Directed by Sidney Poitier; Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte)

85. “Jungle Fever” (1991; Directed by Spike Lee; Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee)

86. “Killer of Sheep” (1978; Directed by Charles Burnett; Henry G. Sanders)


87. "Selma" (2014; Directed by Ava DuVernay; David Oyelowo)

88. “Paris is Burning” (1990; Directed by Jennie Livingston; Paris Dupree)

89. “Daughters of the Dust” (1991; Directed by Julie Dash; Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers)

90. “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” (1973; Directed by Ivan Dixon; Lawrence Cook)

91. “Battle of Algiers” (1966; Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo; Brahim Hadjadj)

92. “Precious” (2009; Directed by Lee Daniels; Mo’Nique, Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey)

93. “Miracle in Harlem” (1948; Directed by Jack Kemp: Stepin Fetchit, Sheila Guyse)

94. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967; Directed by Stanley Kramer; Sidney Poitier, Beah Richards)

95. “Burning an Illusion” (1981; Directed by Menelik Shabazz; Cassie McFarlane, Victor Romero Evans)

96. “The Homesteader” (1919; Directed by Oscar Micheaux; Charles D. Lucas, Evelyn Preer, Iris Hall)

97. “The Learning Tree” (1969; Directed by Gordon Parks; Kyle Johnson, Alex Clarke, Estelle Evans)

98. “Wild Style” (1983; Directed by Charlie Ahearn; Fab 5 Freddy, Grandmaster Flash)

99. “Black Girl” (1966; Directed by Ousmane Sembene; Mbissine Thérèse and Anne-Marie Jelinek)

100. “The Princess and the Frog” (2009; Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker; Anika Noni Rose, Keith David, Jenifer Lewis)

Shawn Edwards is Co-Founder of the African American Film Critics Association

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