Best Black Movies of the 21st Century

Existentially true

George_Washington_FilmRotten Tomatoes came up with the 100 Best Black Movies of the 21st Century. They “defined Black films as those that centered on African American stories and African American characters, or – as in the case of Black Panther – were made by Black filmmakers and were embraced by African American audiences.” I could have split the list in half, but there are more films I saw in the upper half (23) than the lower half (7). So here’s #100-#31 today, and the Top 30 another time.

#100 – #96 Saw none of these. I wanted to see Drumline but didn’t. Ghost Dog seemed too dark. Yes, I know 2000 is the 20th century; it’s not my list.
#95 Dreamgirls (2006). I enjoyed chunks of it, but not throughout.
#94 GET ON UP (2014) – a biopic starring Chadwick Boseman as singer James Brown I had intended to see.

#93 George Washington (2000) – I went to see it based on Roger Ebert’s glowing review, and it did not disappoint. Yes, as another critic pointed out, it was “visual poetry.
#92 MARSHALL (2017) a biopic starring Chadwick Boseman as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall I had intended to see.
#91 RAY (2004) a biopic starring Jamie Foxx as singer Ray Charles I had intended to see. I saw bits and pieces on TV.

Jackie Robinson

#90 Love and Basketball (2000) – I recall enjoying the story of a young “couple navigates the tricky paths of romance and athletics.” Also, in retrospect, it reminds me of my niece Rebecca and her husband Rico.
#89 Barbershop (2002) – I saw this on commercial TV. Existentially true.
#88 – #86 – saw none of these. I only know of Hustle and Flow because of the music.
#85 42 (2013). A biopic starring Chadwick Boseman as baseball player Jackie Robinson I DID see.

#84 – #81 – saw none, though I thought to see Chi-Raq for Spike Lee’s direction, and American Gangster for Denzel.
#80 Monster’s Ball (2002) – I remember thinking it was very good, especially Halle Berry’s performance, but depressing.
#79 MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (2012) #78 BAD BOYS FOR LIFE (2020) – the premise of some movies just don’t interest me; Bad Boys is one.
#77 Akeelah and the Bee. It’s very sweet. BTW, while I was a good speller, I would be terrible at spelling bees.

#76 – #73 – I’m quite fond of Nina Simone’s music (#75 WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? (2015). The trailer to #74 Queen and Slim (2019) was intriguing but maybe too real.
#72 The Princess and the Frog (2009) – this may have been the first movie I took my daughter to in a theater. Unfortunately, she was five, and afraid of certain elements. She’s seen it since and she’s fine. I liked it more than I thought I would.

#71 PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW (2016) through #47 DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY (2006) – I saw NONE of these, save for #60 STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN (2002). The other ones about music – #68 MISS SHARON JONES! (2016); and #52 MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL (2019) were of interest, and I almost went to see #54 WHITNEY (2018). I REALLY wish I had seen #48 DEAR WHITE PEOPLE (2014). But I steered clear of #51 DETROIT (2017), which seemed far too real, just from the trailer.

Bryan Stevenson

#46 Just Mercy (2020). On those lists of black films that white people should see, this film often shows up. Yet some list-makers dismiss it because it took place in the past and in the South, as though it somehow doesn’t count. I’m mystified by that.
#45 CREED II (2018) #44 GOOD HAIR (2009) – I REALLY wanted to see Good Hair, because the issue of black females’ hair has been an issue much of my life.

#43 STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015) – I really had intended to see this when it was in theaters, but it didn’t happen.
#42 SUPPORT THE GIRLS (2018) #41 IT COMES AT NIGHT (2017) #40 LUCE (2019) – Luce was intriguing, but it didn’t stay long enough in theaters.
#39 DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012) – I made the deliberate decision not to see this Tarantino film, which I discussed here.
#38-#33 I never got around to see Precious.

#32 Step (2017) – I did see this, maybe on TV. Inspiring.
#31 13TH (2016). In the summer of 2019, my daughter compelled me to watch 13th. She’d already watched it a half dozen times at that point, and more subsequently. It is one of those films on most everyone’s lists of black films to see. I’ve recommended it myself.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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