The Top 25 African American Movies From the Past 25 Years

This list consists of the top 25 African American movies from each year dating back from 1990 to 2015.

1990

Paris Is Burning

A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.
Director:

Jennie Livingston
Stars:

André Christian, Dorian Corey, Paris Duprée


1991

Boyz In the Hood

Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and future prospects.
Director:

John Singleton
Writer:
John Singleton
Stars:

Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir


1992

Malcolm X

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.
Director:

Spike Lee
Stars:

Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo

1993

Menace II Society

A young street hustler attempts to escape the rigors and temptations of the ghetto in a quest for a better life.
Directors:

Albert Hughes (as The Hughes Brothers) , Allen Hughes
Stars:

Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, June Kyoto Lu


1994

Hoop Dreams

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.
Director:

Steve James
Stars:

William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates


1995

Waiting To Exhale

Based on Terry McMillan’s novel, this film follows four very different African-American women and their relationships with the male gender.
Director:

Forest Whitaker
Stars:

Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine


1996

Set It Off

Desperation drives four inner-city women (Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise) to bank robbery in Los Angeles, then they start mistrusting one another.
Director:

F. Gary Gray
Stars:

Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox


1997

Soul Food

One person can keep a family together and, when that one person is gone, a family can be torn apart.
Director:

George Tillman Jr.
Stars:

Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long


1998

He Got Game

A basketball player’s father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.
Director:

Spike Lee
Stars:

Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Ray Allen


1999

On the Ropes

The story of three young boxers and their coach who is determined to guide them in a positive direction in and out of the ring.
Directors:

Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen
Stars:

Sam Doumit, Martin Goldman, Harry Keitt


2000

Love and Basketball

In 1981 in L.A., Monica moves in next door to Quincy. They’re 11, and both want to play in the NBA, just like Quincy’s dad. Their love-hate relationship lasts into high school, with Monica’s edge and Quincy’s top-dog attitude separating them, except when Quincy’s parents argue and he climbs through Monica’s window to sleep on the floor. As high school ends, they come together as a couple, but within a year, with both of them playing ball at USC, Quincy’s relationship with his father takes an ugly turn, and it leads to a break up with Monica. Some years later, their pro careers at a crossroads, they meet again. It’s time for a final game of one-on-one with high stakes.
Director:

Gina Prince-Bythewood
Stars:

Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Glenndon Chatman


2001

Training Day

On his first day on the job as a Los Angeles narcotics officer, a rookie cop goes on a 24-hour training course with a rogue detective who isn’t what he appears.
Director:

Antoine Fuqua
Stars:

Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn


2002

Barbershop

A day in the life of a South Side Chicago barbershop.
Director:

Tim Story
Stars:

Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve


2003

Baadasssss!

Mario Van Peebles’s half documentary/half homage to his father Melvin’s 1971 film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.
Director:

Mario Van Peebles
Stars:

Mario Van Peebles, Nia Long, Joy Bryant


2004

Ray

The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.
Director:

Taylor Hackford
Stars:

Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington


2005

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

A couple’s seemingly solid marriage begins to crumble when the wife discovers that her husband intends to divorce her.
Director:

Darren Grant
Stars:

Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Tyler Perry


2006

Dream Girls

A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.
Director:

Bill Condon
Stars:

Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy


2007

The Great Debaters

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
Director:

Denzel Washington
Stars:

Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise


2008

American Violet

A single mother struggles to clear her name after being wrongly accused and arrested for dealing drugs in an impoverished town in Texas.
Director:

Tim Disney
Stars:

Nicole Beharie, Will Patton, Alfre Woodard


2009

Precious

In New York City’s Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
Director:

Lee Daniels
Stars:

Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton


2010

Takers

A group of bank robbers find their multi-million dollar plan interrupted by a hard-boiled detective.
Director:

John Luessenhop
Stars:

Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon


2011

Pariah

A Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.
Director:

Dee Rees
Stars:

Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis


2012

Django Unchained

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Director:

Quentin Tarantino
Stars:

Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio


2013

Lee Daniel’s The Butler

As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man’s life, family, and American society.
Director:

Lee Daniels
Stars:

Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack


2014

Selma

A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.
Director:

Ava DuVernay
Stars:

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth


2015

Straight Outta Compton

The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
Director:

F. Gary Gray
Stars:

O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell

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