The best Black family movies of all time

15 must-watched Black family films

Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in 42

Make your family movie night extra inspiring by watching some of the best Black family movies of all time. From comedies to dramas, there’s something for everyone in this collection. Whether your family is looking for an uplifting experience or something humorous to enjoy together, there’s sure to be at least one film on this list that will fit the bill.

42 (2013)

Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in 42Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in 42

42 is a biographical sports drama movie about Jackie Robinson’s baseball career. Directed by Brian Helgeland, the 2013 movie stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson, Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, and Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese.

The movie follows Robinson’s struggle to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. It recounts the hardships he faced, including racism and discrimination, as well as the support and friendship he received from teammate Pee Wee Reese. The movie also explores how Robinson’s success helped to challenge segregation in the United States.

The movie was a critical and commercial success. It received positive reviews, with praise for the performances of Boseman and Ford, as well as its accurate portrayal of the events of Robinson’s life. The movie grossed over $97.5 million worldwide and was nominated for several awards, including Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It was also nominated for several BAFTA, Critics Choice, and Golden Globe awards.

Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

Keke Palmer as the titular character in Akeela and the BeeKeke Palmer as the titular character in Akeela and the Bee

The 2006 movie Akeelah and the Bee is an inspirational family drama with a remarkable cast of characters. It tells the powerful story of Akeelah Anderson, an 11-year-old girl from South Los Angeles who competes in the National Spelling Bee as she navigates her way through school bullies. Along her journey, she learns important lessons about resilience, self-belief, teamwork, and friendship.

In addition to being uplifting for viewers of any age group, Akeelah and the Bee, which stars Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, and Keke Palmer, also serves as a great representation of African American culture onscreen. With a score of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and more than $18.9 million at the box office, it’s no surprise that Akeelah and the Bee has become one of the most beloved black family movies of all time.

Becoming (2020)

Michelle Obama in BecomingMichelle Obama in Becoming

Becoming is a 2020 documentary film about the life and career of former First Lady Michelle Obama. Partly based on her 2018 bestselling memoir of the same name, the movie was directed by Nadira Hallgren. The documentary followed Obama through her 34-city book tour after her memoir was published. It features footage of Obama’s travels, talk shows, and her work during her tenure as the First Lady.

Beloved (1998)

Kimberly Elise, Oprah Winfrey, Thandiwe Newton in BelovedKimberly Elise, Oprah Winfrey, Thandiwe Newton in Beloved

Directed by Jonathan Demme, Beloved is a 1998 horror drama film that explores slavery, racial injustice, perseverance, and self-discovery. Starring Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, and Thandie Newton, the movie centers on Sethe, a woman haunted by the ghost of her deceased daughter and by the memories of her own traumatic past as a slave. She ultimately finds redemption and peace by confronting her past, embracing her daughter’s memory, and forgiving herself.

The film received generally positive reviews from critics. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film was “so emotionally involving it’s almost overwhelming” and praised the performances, particularly those of Winfrey and Glover. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times noted that the film “tells its story with power, intelligence and great visual beauty” and gave it three and a half stars out of four.

Blank Panther (2018)

Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa in Black PantherChadwick Boseman as T’Challa in Black Panther

Black Panther is one of the best black family movies of all time. With an all-star cast, including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, and Lupita Nyong’o, the 2018 film captivated audiences around the world. The story follows T’Challa (Boseman) as he takes on his role as king of Wakanda following his father’s death while also protecting his people from outside forces. The movie also features strong African American female characters such as Nakia (Nyong’O), Shuri (Letitia Wright), and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) who each play essential roles in helping T’Challa become a capable ruler.

In addition to receiving praise for the cast’s strong performances, Black Panther was also commended for its positive representation of Black culture. With this powerful message, Black Panther has truly made history as one of the greatest Black family films ever created.

Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Morris Chestnut, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Ice Cube in Boyz in the HoodMorris Chestnut, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Ice Cube in Boyz in the Hood

Boyz in the Hood is a classic black family movie that has been hailed as one of the most important films of our time. Directed by John Singleton, the movie follows three teenage boys from South Central Los Angeles and how they navigate through their everyday lives amidst racial prejudice. Boyz in the Hood stars Cuba Gooding Jr as Jason “Tre” Styles III, Morris Chestnut as Ricky Baker, and Ice Cube as Darrin “Doughboy” Baker, along with Laurence Fishburne giving an iconic performance as Jason “Furious” Styles II, the father figure to Gooding’s Tre.

The powerful film tackles serious themes such as gang violence, drug use, coming-of-age issues, and struggles faced by young African American men growing up in inner cities at the time. But the characters’ relationships with each other show what family means when it comes down to facing difficult times together despite all odds. Themes like these still remain relevant today making this timeless piece of art worth watching again and again.

Boyz in the Hood was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Director for Singleton – a historic first for an African American filmmaker. With its powerful message about resilience and strength among Black families, Boyz in the Hood stands out as one of the best Black family films ever made.

Dr. Dolittle (1998)

Eddie Murphy in Dr. DolittleEddie Murphy in Dr. Dolittle

Dr. Dolittle is an unforgettable classic that has everything you could want in a family movie. Eddie Murphy stars as the titular character, a doctor who can speak to animals and has a magical ability to understand them. After receiving this power, Dr. Dolittle sets off on a quest to help a sickly young prince, while also trying to find a cure for his ailing daughter. Along the way, he meets a variety of strange and wonderful creatures, who help him on his journey.

Good Burger (1997)

Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell in Good BurgerKenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell in Good Burger

Want a movie night that is full of laughs? Watch Good Burger! Starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, the comedy film tells the misadventures of two teenage fast-food workers, Ed (Thompson) and Dexter (Mitchell). Featuring appearances by stars like Carmen Electra, Sinbad, and Abe Vigoda, the film delivers both laughter and thought-provoking messages about acceptance, understanding diversity, and respecting each other despite our differences.

Although not as groundbreaking or critically acclaimed as other Black family movies, it remains one of the best Black family films of all time – thanks to its message of tolerance and goodwill toward all people. With memorable characters and plenty of laughs along the way, this feel-good classic serves up a timely reminder that no matter how diverse we may be, we can always find common ground if we look hard enough.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

The cast of Guess Who's Coming to DinnerThe cast of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a romantic comedy-drama film that is both socially and historically significant. Directed by Stanley Kramer and written by William Rose, the 1967 movie revolves around a couple, Matt and Christina Drayton (Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn), who are surprised when their daughter Joanna (Katharine Houghton) brings home her fiancé John Prentice (Roy E. Glenn Sr.).

Matt and Christina must confront the issues of bigotry and changing social norms in order to accept John into the family. John and Joanna’s interracial marriage affects their relationships with their parents, and they must find a way to reconcile the differences between them all. The film ultimately serves as an exploration of the changing attitudes towards interracial marriage during the Civil Rights Movement.

Until June 12th, 1967, when the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia, interracial marriage remained illegal in 17 states of America. The film was released six months after this landmark decision, and the scenes depicting such marriages were filmed shortly before the laws were abolished.

Hidden Figures (2016)

Janelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer in Hidden FiguresJanelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is an inspiring movie about three African-American women working at NASA in 1961. Loosely based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, the movie centers on three female African-American mathematicians: Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who worked at NASA during the Space Race.

The trio make history when they become part of the team that helps astronaut John Glenn launch into orbit around Earth. Their hard work eventually leads them to be acknowledged by President John F. Kennedy himself after being denied access to a segregated computer lab due to race alone. Despite facing these obstacles, they persevere with courage and determination until finally recognized for their efforts.

The film received critical acclaim, with praise for the writing, direction, cinematography, emotional tone, historical accuracy, and performances, particularly those of Henson and Spencer.

Jingle Jangle (2020)

Keira Chansa in Jingle JangleKeira Chansa in Jingle Jangle

The Netflix original Jingle Jangle is a musical fantasy holiday movie that tells the story of an esteemed toymaker, Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker), whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. When his trusted apprentice (Madalen Mills) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (Keira Chansa) to heal old family wounds and reawaken the magic within. Along the way, she discovers the power of family, friendship, and the true spirit of Christmas. With its vivid animation style, catchy soundtrack, and inspiring characters, Jingle Jangle succeeds wonderfully at entertaining while celebrating cultural diversity and progress.

Loving (2016)

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in LovingRuth Negga and Joel Edgerton in Loving

Starring Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as Richard and Mildred Loving respectively, this film tells the true story of an interracial couple who were charged with violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws after they married. The pair fought back against their charges all the way to the Supreme Court, where they won a historic ruling that would pave the way for similar cases across America.

Moreover, it celebrates strong female characters such as Mildred Loving whose courage led her to challenge authority and defy racial boundaries through her involvement in civil rights activism and debate team matches. Above all else, the movie serves as a reminder that progress takes patience and perseverance. With inspiring performances by both leads, Loving shines light upon one of history’s most monumental moments while reminding viewers everywhere why it is so important to stand up for what you believe in.

Remember The Titans (2000)

Denzel Washington in Remember the TitansDenzel Washington in Remember the Titans

Remember the Titans is a sports drama film based on the true story of a newly appointed African-American coach Herman Boone and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit. Set in Alexandria, Virginia, in the early 1970s, the film follows the football team from the T.C. Williams High School Titans as they struggle to integrate their players, coaches, and fans while working towards a state championship.

Denzel Washington stars as Herman Boone, the new African-American head coach of the T.C Williams High School football team, and Will Patton plays his white counterpart, Bill Yoast. The two coaches must come together to form one successful team, despite tension among their players due to racism in the community.

This movie showcases how black men can be strong role models for young people while also being loving fathers to their own children – something not often seen in mainstream media at the time of its release. As we follow these characters through their journey of overcoming adversity with grace, it’s easy to see why this movie has become such a beloved part of black culture today.

Ruby Bridges (1998)

A screenshot of one of the scenes from the film Ruby BridgesA screenshot of one of the scenes from the film Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges is a made-for-television biographical drama film directed by Euzhan Palcy and starring Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Pollak, Michael Beach, Jean Louisa Kelly, and Nick Price. It is based on the true story of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960.

In the film, Ruby embarks on a tumultuous year at school as she faces racism and hostility from both adults and children alike. As this true story unfolds with stunning cinematography, it’s hard not to be moved by what transpires throughout its runtime. Viewers will appreciate how the movie touched on the topic of civil rights and concluded the story with a happy ending for the courageous protagonist who changed history forever.

The Great Debaters (2007)

Denzel Washington in The Great DebatersDenzel Washington in The Great Debaters

Based on an article written about the Wiley College debate team by Tony Scherman for the spring 1997 issue of American Legacy, The Great Debaters stars Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, Denzel Whitaker, John Heard, and Kimberly Elise. It follows the efforts of debate coach Melvin B. Tolson (Washington) at Wiley College to place his team on equal footing with whites in the American South during the 1930s when Jim Crow laws were common and lynchings of black people were a regular occurrence. The Wiley team eventually succeeds to the point where they are able to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

Through their hard work and dedication, the debate team proved just how powerful words can be when used to effect social change.

This list of the best black family films of all time is certainly not complete. There are many more incredible stories featuring an African American family that have been made into films, and they deserve to be seen. But these 15 examples show just how powerful a movie can be when it comes to telling real stories about African Americans and their families.

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