Are you looking for ways to increase your knowledge about Black culture and history? Check out our top five recommendations for movies to watch in 2021. Featuring a range of topics, each selection is sure to provide you with a heightened sense of awareness and understanding.
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Where to watch: HBO Max (or rent from Amazon, Google, iTunes, or Youtube)
A epic biographical drama film about the African-American activist Malcolm X. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the film stars Denzel Washington in the title role, as well as Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., and Delroy Lindo. Lee has a supporting role, while Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and future South African president Nelson Mandela make cameo appearances.
The film dramatizes key events in Malcolm X's life: his criminal career, his incarceration, his conversion to Islam, his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam and his later falling out with the organization, his marriage to Betty X, his pilgrimage to Mecca and reevaluation of his views concerning whites, and his assassination on February 21, 1965. Defining childhood incidents, including his father's death, his mother's mental illness, and his experiences with racism are dramatized in flashbacks.
Where to watch: Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, Vudu (or able to rent on iTunes, Google Play, or Youtube)
I Am Not Your Negro is a 2016 documentary film directed by Raoul Peck, based on James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript Remember This House. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin's reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his personal observations of American history. It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards and won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary.
Where to watch: Showtime (or rent from Vudu, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play)
Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama film produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson, and is the feature film debut of Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez. The story explores a Brooklyn neighborhood's simmering racial tension, which culminates in tragedy and violence on a hot summer day.
The film was a critical and commercial success and received numerous accolades, including Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Aiello's portrayal of Sal the pizzeria owner. It is often listed among the greatest films of all time. In 1999, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress, in its first year of eligibility, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Where to watch: Hulu (or rent from Youtube, iTunes, Google, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video)
Sorry to Bother You is a 2018 American dark comedy film written and directed by Boots Riley, in his directorial debut. It stars Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, and Armie Hammer. The film follows a young black telemarketer who adopts a white accent to succeed at his job. Swept into a corporate conspiracy, he must choose between profit and joining his activist friends to organize labor.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (or rent from Google Play, YouTube, or Vudu)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a 2019 American drama film. Its plot centers on the efforts of a young Black man to reclaim his childhood home, a now-expensive Victorian house in a gentrified neighborhood of San Francisco.
The film is the feature debut of director and producer Joe Talbot. Talbot wrote the screenplay with Rob Richert and the story with Jimmie Fails, on whose life the film is partly based. The movie stars Fails, Jonathan Majors, Tichina Arnold, Rob Morgan, Mike Epps, Finn Wittrock, and Danny Glover.