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33 MUST WATCH Films To Celebrate Black History Month & Beyond

Here's a list of some of the best representations that you can find on the big screen-turned-home stream

Beginning every February we will be dedicating to celebrating Black History Month, however, we at Ollywop Radio Network Ent. believe that the opportunity to celebrate and honor Black culture and culture makers, along with the work of seeking reconciliation, equality, and pursuing anti-racism, is a year-round endeavor that's not to be confined to a mere 28 days . The late actor Sidney Poitier said, “Living consciously involves being genuine; it involves listening and responding to others honestly and openly; it involves being in the moment.” And one of the ways we can be in the moment, listening, like Poitier says, is by watching films about Black history and especially those created by Black artists.

You'll find in this list a variety of genres including powerful historical biographies like Malcom X, Harriet, and Race. There are films that confront the horrors of slavery, prejudice, and systemic racism like 12 Years A Slave, 13th, and The Hate U Give. From films about Civil Rights pioneers (Selma, Judas and the Black Messiah) all the way to animated films (Soul) and Marvel superheroes (Black Panther, Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse), these films are but a taste of the vibrant stories Black people have yet to tell in film and other art forms about the deep wells of faith, hope, and endurance that inspire them.

1.) Malcom X (1992)

An epic biopic of the late controversial Civil Rights leader Malcom X, by director Spike Lee, with Denzel Washington starring as Malcom X.

2.) If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

A tragic romance of two young people in love, eager to begin their lives as a family, only to have their dreams dashed when the young man is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit.

3.) Judas & the Black Messiah (2021)

Winner of the 2021 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Daniel Kaluuya plays Fred Hampton, the leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. Little does he know that the FBI has sent in a mole to get information about him.

4.) Black Panther (2018)

The late Chadwick Boseman stars as the first black superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Black Panther. T’Challa (aka Black Panther) must lead the land of Wakanda and face opposition from a threat to his leadership.

5.) Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)

Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales is one day bitten by a radioactive spider, only to find out it comes with powers. He meets Peter Parker and begins to learn what it means to harness his new powers and take on the identity of Spiderman. He also must face a villain who has more than this world to fight back with.

6.) Marshall (2017)

This biopic covers one of Thurgood Marshall's early high profile cases. Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad play two lawyers who team up to fight racism and prejudice.

7.) Selma (2014)

This epic Civil Rights biopic covers the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, which ultimate leads to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Winner of the Best Original Song Academy Award for the title song “Glory,” by John Legend & Common.

8.) 13th (2016)

This documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay is a must-watch! Telling the story of the long history of racial inequality in America, it also highlights the systemic racism found in the prison system today.

9.) Harriet (2019)

This incredible movie tells the awe-inspiring and harrowing story of Harriet Tubman and her many journey’s back and forth on the Underground Railroad.

10.) Hidden Figures (2016)

What was behind the launch of John Glenn into orbit? The brilliant minds of three black women at NASA: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. This moving film will inspire you to dream beyond what you can imagine.

11.) A Ballerina’s Tale (2015)

Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to hold a principal role at the American Ballet Theater. Follow along on her daily routine, backstory, and rise to stardom in this inspiring documentary.

12.) Crooklyn (1994)

A young girl living in a tight-knit Brooklyn community learns about life, loss, community and what it truly means to be a family.

13.) Boyz n the Hood (1991)

14.) The Princess And the Frog (2009)

Travel back to jazz era Louisiana for Disney’s debut of their first black Princess, Tiana. Tiana dreams of opening her own restaurant, but unfortunately a fateful encounter with a frog sends her on a wild ride, leading her to find love, adventure, and her “ever after.”

15.) Drumline (2002)

A young drummer, who thinks he’s all that, is given a quick dose of reality during his time as a part of a Georgia University drumline. If you liked Bring It On and love Stomp, you’ll dig this flick.

16.) 42 (2013)

Chadwick Boseman stars as the inimitable Jackie Robinson as he signs on as the first black player on the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team.

17.) Get Out (2017)

Meeting the parents was never scarier then when Chris joins his white girlfriend for a weekend with her parents. Don’t get drawn into the sunken place or you’ll never get out...

18.) Just Mercy (2019)

Based on the memoir by Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy follows Stephenson early on in his career as a lawyer, fresh out of Harvard, fighting for death row inmates in the South. This early case would lead him to start the Equal Justice Initiative.

19.) Fences (2016)

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson and directed by Denzel Washington, Fences shows us how regrets and long-lost dreams can plague those around you if you don’t deal with them. A father must deal with his inner demons before it destroys his son’s future.

20.) The Hate U Give (2018)

A young girl straddling two worlds—her Black community and the privileged and predominantly white world of her private school—is devastated by a tragic killing of her best friend by a local police officer, forcing her to discover her voice and take a stand for what’s right.

21.) The Butler (2013)

Directed by Lee Daniels, The Butler follows the life of Cecil Gaines as he gains the opportunity of a lifetime, when he’s hired on as a butler in the White House. Spanning decades and presidencies, Gaines’ life highlights an important and turbulent time in the fight for civil rights.

22.) I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

The remaining unfinished manuscript from James Baldwin is reimagined in this documentary by filmmaker Raoul Peck. Baldwin gives personal accounts of the assassinations of three of his friends: Malcom X, Medgar Evars, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

23.) Akeelah & the Bee (2006)

A young girl’s tenacity helps her fight to get a place at the National Spelling Bee despite all the odds against her.

24.) I Will Follow (2012)

A young woman mourns the loss of her aunt and finds comfort as she grieves from other people who have recently lost someone.

25.) Soul (2020)

This award-winning animated film with an all-star cast including Jamie Foxx and Ahmir Khalib Thompson (Questlove) is a celebration of life. Co-writer Kemp Powers made a point of highlighting everyday spaces and interactions that are true reflection of Black community and life. A jazz musician must contend with his regrets to see what a truly full life he had.

26.) Bessie (2015)

A powerful biopic about the legendary 20th-century blues singer, Bessie Smith.

27.) Raisin in the Sun (1961)

The Youngers family, who live together in a Chicago apartment, must decide what to do with the insurance settlement from the late patriarch of the family. Starring the late award-winning Sidney Poitier, this film explores generational differences, community, significance, and what constitutes the American Dream.

28.) The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

Two friends try to acquire the home that one of their grandfather’s built, ultimately leading them on an adventure through their past that tests their friendship.

29.) Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

Tony Award winning director George C. Wolfe brings jazz era Chicago alive in this film about a blues singer’s turbulent recording session.

30.) Summer of Soul (2021)

You’ve heard of Woodstock, but that same year there was another epic music festival that took place: the Harlem Cultural Festival. Lasting six weeks, it was a celebration of Black culture, music, fashion, and history.

31.) Soul Food (1997)

Comfort food and the community found at the table is at the center of this film about a black family navigating its ups and downs.

32.) Race (2016)

This inspiring film tells the true story of Olympian Jesse Owens, who against all odds was able to compete and win gold in the 1938 Olympic games in Berlin, Germany, proving to the world and Nazi Germany that he was the fastest man on earth.

33.) Love & Basketball (2000)

All’s fair in love and basketball…or at least in this classic romantic comedy. Two lifelong friends battle it out on the court and yet through it all discover there’s more than just love for the game drawing them together.

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