Must Watch Black Films For The Culture


Black History Month is upon us, and for those of us who are Black… Black history is every day of our lives. Before I start with that, let me digress and get back to the intention of this post. Black culture is a beautiful thing and is present in many things. I had a conversation with my partner who explained that their experiences in Black culture, in terms of films, were limited as a Black person. As someone who grew up with television as my babysitter, I was floored. Not only was I Black, but I was also an immigrant surrounded by a rather white environment. Television and movies were my way of seeing how people who looked like me lived. Black films and television hugely influence my entire being. My partner and I created a list of “Must See Black Films for the Culture”. Our original list had up to 50 films. For this article, I have minimized it to 12.

By no means does this list speak for the entire community. This list, however, speaks to myself and my relationship to Black culture. I would argue that my lexicon, appearance, relationship to others, relationship to art, and goals in life have all been influenced in some way or another by some of the movies below. Welcome to “Must See Black Films for the Culture”.

** Disclosure; I have chosen to avoid films that glorify Black trauma for entertainment; therefore, if there is a film that doesn’t appear on this list that you believe is essential, think if it promotes Black trauma for profit.

The List


Ignore After Friday and Friday After Next, the sequels do not compare to the original and this movie is a classic. Released in 1995, Friday was written after Ice Cube (the star of the film) and DJ Pooh voiced their displeasure in the way the hood was portrayed in media, and as a result Friday was born.

Who’s in it?

Ice Cube, Nia Long, Chris Tucker, Bernie Mac, John Witherspoon. (if you can link the actor names to imbd or something that would be a good look)


There is a special type of relationship Black men have with the barbershop. The conversation, the camaraderie, the laughs, the bond, and the confidence are all elements that elevate the experience of a Black man’s haircut. Barbershop is another Ice Cube film that shows that specific love connection while also showing how community plays a part in it. Once again, ignore the sequels as this film stands firm on its own.

Who’s in it?

Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Michael Ealy, Eve, Cedric the Entertainer

The Wood

A coming of age film that transports us to the past and back to the present to show the growth of a group of friends. With the lead going missing before his wedding, we see how the men became friends as boys while simultaneously trying to get their friend to the alter.

Who’s in it?

Taye Diggs, Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones, Sean Nelson

Love Jones

Loves Jones is the film that showed me that regular ass Black people can be creatives, and fall in love. It was also the first depiction of a Black man reciting poetry outside of a rap song. Love Jones walked so Def Poetry Jam could run.

Who’s in it?

Larenz Tate, Nia Long, Isiah Washington

Brown Sugar

This film is a love story between characters, a love story between the characters and Hip Hop, a love story between Hip Hop and its people. The way Hip Hop is intertwined into this movie in so many different ways, coded in so many different ways is a work of art. I maybe watch Brown Sugar once a year and each time learn something new in regards to the film. Not only is it a wonderful romantic comedy it is a history lesson in New York hip hop music of the 80’s and early 2000s (with plenty of cameos to boast).

Who’s in it?

Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Mos Def, Queen Latifah

Antwone Fisher

Antwone Fisher is not for the faint of heart, an inspiring story that starts quite rough but shows the real-life journey of Mr. Antwone Fisher. Mental health is a taboo topic in the Black community and Antwone Fisher demonstrates that relationship.

Who’s in it?

Derek Luke, Denzel Washington, Joy Bryant

Love & Basketball

Do I need to say more? Another wonderful film that shows not only the love story between two characters but also their love story with the sport of basketball that brought them together. There are some interesting facts about the filming of its movie but I shall keep those to myself as to not interfere with the fact that this movie is beautiful.

Who’s in it?

Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert

Judas & The Black Messiah

Full disclosure, I actually haven’t seen this film BUT before you unleash judgment I know the story and it is of huge importance in the culture. The movie showcases how the FBI took a Black man down on his troubles and manipulated him. They threatened him to make him work against the Black Panther Party and aid in the downfall of their leader Fred Hampton. The story is true and it is wild.

Who’s in it?

Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons


I have talked about this before and I will keep talking about this until I die. Belly has one of the best opening film sequences in history. The opening itself was close to $ 3 million which was the majority of its budget. The opening scene alone is for the culture and the entire movie is directed by famed music video director Hype Williams.

Who’s in it?

DMX, Nas, T-Boz, Method Man, Taral Hicks

Malcolm X

I think every Black family has had a historical movie prominent in their house, ours was Malcolm X which was based on the autobiography. It’s a must and it shows the trajectory and multiple journeys that Malcolm X took within his beliefs, faith, and activism.

Who’s in it?

Denzel Washington, Angela Basset, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr


Moonlight is another more recent film but does not negate its importance to the culture and shift into acceptance. There are not many coming-of-age films about a gay Black male character and this is one that not only is great but also cinematically beautiful. The film uses beautiful imagery of its surroundings to emphasize its story as well as contrast lighting on melanated skin that illuminates its subjects.

Who’s in it?

Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali

The Best Man

A man is getting ready for his wedding and his old college group reunites, his best friend has written a book and it has yet to be released. The book, however, happens to divulge the secrets of the friend group. It’s a rom-com with some slight drama.

Who’s in it?

Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan, Terrence Howard

Enjoy !

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