The best Black movies and where to watch them online for Black History Month

DANIELLE DEADWYLER as CUFFEE, JONATHAN MAJORS as NAT LOVE, ZAZIE BEETZ as MARY FIELDS in THE HARDER THEY FALL
(Image credit: Netflix)

If you’re looking for the best Black movies to stream, we’ve got you covered. This list is just a starting point—there are hundreds of excellent Black movies—but we want to showcase a selection of the best Black movies across a range of genres that represents what it’s like to be a minority in America.

The movies on this list, which include comedy, romance, horror, and action films, have either mostly Black casts, directors, or both. Regardless of the genre, they speak in some way to what life is like to be Black in America.

If you’re looking for more, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu all have dozens of Black movies, organized by genre. Don’t see your favorite Black film on our list? Be sure to add your recommendation in the comments. And while most of these films can be purchased or rented on major online platforms such as Google Play, Amazon Prime Video and Apple iTunes Store, we're highlighting when these films are available as a part of a streaming service’s library.

The Harder They Fall

This Western had me at Idris Elba and Jonathan Majors, but add Regina King, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield and Delroy Lindo? Take all of my money, Netflix (well, my monthly subscription fee). The film from director Jeymes Samuel draws inspiration from real-life cowboys, outlaws and lawmen to create memorable characters who are all Black. 

Majors is Nat Love, the leader of a band of bandits whose specialty is stealing from other thieves and ruffians. He carries a grudge against Rufus Buck (Elba) and when the latter is freed from prison, leads his murderously merry men in a quest for vengeance. The stylish gunslinging and action scenes are set to a thumping, anachronistic soundtrack populated by Jay-Z and Kid Cudi among others. - Kelly Woo

Watch on Netflix (opens in new tab)

Passing

The black and white cinematography of Passing highlights how life is anything but — it’s filled with innumerable shades of gray. Set during the Harlem Renaissance, the story follows two friends reconnecting after many years. Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga) are both light-skinned Black women. However, they’ve made very different choices in their lives. While Clare chose to pass as white and married a racist white man (Alexander Skarsgård), Irene embraced her African-American identity and married a Black doctor (André Holland). After they reunite, Clare longs for the path she didn’t take and begins to insert herself more into Irene’s life. 

Writer/director Rebecca Hall has created an elegant meditation not just on racial identity and bigotry, but about feminism and female friendships. And it’s clearly a passion project, since Hall’s own grandfather was a Black man who passed as white. - Kelly Woo

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Judas and the Black Messiah

Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

While Daniel Kaluuya got a lot of applause — and an Oscar — for his portrayal of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, Lakeith Stanfield's turn as William O'Neal (the Judas to Hampton's Black Messiah) is just as worth talking about. Stanfield's performance is haunting, leaving you asking so many questions about why he betrayed Hampton, and refuses to make it easily digestible. The film is filled out by an excellent supporting cast, including Dominique Fishback, Lil Rel Howery, Jesse Plemons and Martin Sheen. – Henry T. Casey 

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Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station

(Image credit: TWC)

Before the racial injustice protests of 2020, before even the Black Lives Matter movement coalesced in 2013, a young Black man named Oscar Grant was killed by a transit officer in Oakland. His story is told with exceptional sensitivity and nuance by director Ryan Coogler (in his feature debut) and star Michael B. Jordan (in his breakout film role). The camera follows Oscar, who is trying to live a clean life following time in San Quentin. He is working hard to supporting his girlfriend and young daughter. On New Year's Eve, while returning home from viewing fireworks in San Francisco, Oscar is swept up into an altercation with police. Sadly, he is not the first nor the last Black person whose life ends in similar tragedy. — Kelly Woo

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Love Jones

(Image credit: Getty)

Love Jones explores both the passionate and intellectual sides of love. Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate), a poet, and Nina Mosely (Nia Long), a photographer, are sorting out their relationship, trying to figure out if what they have is just causal or something more. Director Theodore Witcher offers up multi-layered African-American characters who show that people who we love can have flaws. Tate and Long's chemistry is undeniable and it’s beautiful to see them on screen together. A great movie to watch curled up on the couch with your sweetie! — Kemberlie Spivey

Rent or buy on Apple (opens in new tab)

The Best Man

(Image credit: YouTube Movies)

Hilarious and heartwarming, writer-director Malcolm D. Lee’s film is about college friends reuniting for a weekend wedding and discovering new and old truths about themselves. The ensemble cast (including Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Terrance Howard, Harold Perrineau, Nia Long, and Sanaa Lathan) really clicks, and the movie features a good mixture of funny and intense emotional moments. The Best Man has refreshing takes on the inter-dimensional relationships of characters, and it's not afraid to face the characters honestly and to show each individual's flaws. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Just Mercy

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

A young lawyer named Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) takes on cases of death row inmates in Alabama, and tries to fight for the life of Walter ‘Johnny D’ McMillan (Jamie Foxx), who was wrongfully convicted of murder. Just Mercy tells an inspiring story, and addresses the obstacles minorities face in a prejudiced society and an unfair justice system. Michael B. Jordan turns in a terrific performance, as does Jamie Foxx, truly capturing the pain of those ensnared by a corrupt legal system. While it reminds us of the power of hope, it's also grounded in the reality of the racial challenges and flaws of the prison system Black people face to this day. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Creed

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Creed is the seventh installment in the Rocky franchise but this time focuses on Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), Apollo Creed's son. Adonis wants to follow in his father's footsteps and decides to be trained by Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). With Rocky's help, Adonis tries to get his shot at a title and balance his new life with Bianca (Tessa Thompson). Directed by Ryan Coogler, who would later go on to helm Black Panther, Creed exhilarates and crackles with brilliant on screen performances and masterfully directed fight sequences. It also does a great job at mixing elements from past Rocky movies—especially the stirring theme from Bill Conti—with modern culture.  — Kemberlie Spivey

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Brown Sugar

(Image credit: YouTube Movies)

Hip-hop producer/exec Dre (Taye Diggs) and XXL magazine editor Sidney (Sanna Lathan) are best friends whose relationship is defined by their mutual love of hip-hop, and for each other. However, their platonic friendship is thrown for a loop when he tells her that he's marrying Reese Ellis (Nicole Ari Parker), and she falls for a basketball player. Changes in both their lives in terms of love and the direction of their connection with hip hop brings about choices they both must make. Brown Sugar works as a sweet romantic comedy but depicts Lathan’s evolving relationship with hip hop as she ages and learns the significance behind it, as well as who it represents. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Moonlight

(Image credit: Press Material David Bornfriend)

Moonlight is a beautiful look at what it means to be not only a man, but a Black gay man in America. It focuses on three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, portrayed by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes at three stages in his life in Miami. His journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him. Director Barry Jenkins is not afraid to to guide his film away from conventional storytelling and offer his audience something to connect to in their own way. The editing, cinematography, direction, acting, music, and script all come together so beautifully to tell such a powerful story about love. It’s no wonder Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017. — Kemberlie Spivey

Watch on Showtime via Sling (opens in new tab) or Fubo (opens in new tab)

When They See Us

(Image credit: Netflix)

Even though this is a limited Netflix series, When They See Us in many ways feels like a movie. When They See Us tells the story of Central Park Five, who were wrongly convicted as teens for the murder of a 28 year-old women, and spent between six and 13 years in prison (their convictions were vacated in 2002). Prosecutor Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) states her case against the Five during courtroom proceedings, while the teens' parents (portrayed by actors including Niecy Nash and John Leguizamo) do their best to endure the emotional trial. Jharell Jermone's performance will give you goosebumps. When They See Us successfully reflects the tension and drama of the trial, which is at times uncomfortable but necessary to watch. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Uncorked

(Image credit: Netflix)

Uncorked shows the dilemma of a young man following his passion against his father’s wishes. Elijah (Momoudou Athie) wants to become a sommelier, but his dad, Louis (played by Courtney Vance), wants him to join their family’s barbeque joint in Memphis. The back and forth banter between the father and son strikes a great balance of tension and humor. Directed by Prentice Petty, the film shows how a father feels affronted when his son doesn't want to join the two-generations-old family business. The chemistry between Vance and Niecy Nash (Sylvia) is amazing, and Athie impressively nails the role of an apprentice sommelier. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce

(Image credit: Parkwood Entertainment)

Homecoming is a behind-the-scenes look at Beyoncé’s performance at the 2018 Coachella festival. Homecoming is inspiring, entertaining, joyful and, most of all, honest. Not only do we get the chance to see a high quality video of Beyoncé's Coachella performance, we get to see all the hard work her cast and crew put into the production. The film showcases Beyoncé’s eight months of rehearsals, the sacrifices she makes, and the effort she put in to make this show as good as it was. You don’t have to be a fan of Bey to enjoy this movie, and if you are, it's definitely a film you’ll want to watch over and over and over again. Also check out HΘMΣCΘMING: THE LIVE ALBUM. — Kemberlie Spivey

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If Beale Street Could Talk

(Image credit: Annapurna)

In the early 1970s Harlem, lifelong friends Tish Rivers (Kiki Layne) and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) are engaged and expecting a child, but their plans are put on hold when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. The strong family dynamic is heartwarming as Rivers fights to exonerate Hunt. Everything in If Beale Street Could Talk is executed perfectly. It’s an instant iconic romantic drama.  — Kemberlie Spivey

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Black Panther

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

After the death of his father, T'Challa (Chadwick Bosman) returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king  and as Black Panther gets tested when he's drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. While part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film, directed by Ryan Coogler, is fresh and unique with a gripping plot and stellar performances from the whole cast. The costumes, which represent different tribes in Africa, are all excellently designed, and nothing ever looks like an afterthought. Even the music is based off of traditional African music, which lends the movie a further sense of authenticity. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Beyond The Lights

Beyond the Lights

(Image credit: Relativity Media)

When faced with sudden stardom and an overbearing mother (Minnie Driver), singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has trouble dealing with her success. Feeling unable to cope any longer, Noni tries to hurt herself, but luckily Kaz (Nate Parker), the police officer assigned to be her bodyguard, disrupts her suicide attempt. Noni and Kaz feel an instant attraction, but those in their orbit oppose the romance for fear the pair will stray from the course planned out for both of them. Beyond The Lights is a great date-night movie with so many important life messages regarding self-image, and that being happy and being in love is its own kind of success. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Hidden Figures

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Three brilliant African-American women, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) serve as the mathematical brains behind the NASA space program, starting with the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit in the 1950s, up through the Space Shuttle missions of the 80s and 90s. Hidden Figures tells an uplifting and genuinely heart-warming true life story in an entertaining and crowd-pleasing fashion. The real-life Katherine Johnson was eventually recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Cabin in the Sky

(Image credit: Alamy)

When compulsive gambler Little Joe Jackson (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson) dies in a drunken fight, he awakens in purgatory, where he learns that he will be sent back to Earth for six months to prove that he deserves to be in heaven. He awakens, remembering nothing and struggles to do right by his devout wife, Petunia (Ethel Waters), while an angel known as the General (Kenneth Spencer) and the devil's son, Lucifer Jr. (Rex Ingram), fight for his soul. It is wonderful to watch, not least because it is a showcase for the talents of a whole group of entertainers and musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, and Duke Ellington. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Imitation of Life

(Image credit: Getty)

Lora Meredith (Lana Turner), a white single mother who dreams of being on Broadway, has a chance encounter with Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), a Black widow. Annie becomes the caretaker of Lora's daughter, Suzie (Sandra Dee), while Lora pursues her stage career. Both women deal with the difficulties of motherhood: Lora's thirst for fame threatens her relationship with Suzie, while Annie's light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), struggles with her African-American identity. Moore's performance in particular has been hailed for its wonderful realism. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Malcolm X

Best Black movies: Malcolm X

(Image credit: Getty)

A tribute to the controversial Black activist and leader, Spike Lee’s film follows Malcom X (Denzel Washington) through his early years, his imprisonment in the '50s, conversion to Islam, to his assasination in 1965. This epic of a film guides its viewers through the evolution of Malcolm X’s philosophy in each phase of his life. Denzel Washington is captivating as the titular character, and he's supported by equally strong performances by Angela Bassett and Delroy Lindo, with cameos by Nelson Mandela and Bobby Seale, among others. — Kemberlie Spivey

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Devil in a Blue Dress

In late 1940s Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) is an unemployed BlackBlack World War II veteran with few job prospects. At a bar, Easy meets DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore), a mysterious white man looking for someone to investigate the disappearance of a missing white woman named Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals), who he suspects is hiding out in one of the city's Black jazz clubs. Strapped for money and facing house payments, Easy takes the job, but soon finds himself in over his head. Devil In A Blue Dress, based on a novel by Walter Mosely, is good storytelling; it would be fun to see more of Moseley's books translated to the big screen. — Kemberlie Spivey

Watch free on Tubi (opens in new tab)

Get Out

(Image credit: Universal)

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) have reached the meet-the-parents stage of their relationship. She invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford). At first, Chris reads the family's overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter's interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined. Directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out is thought-provoking and an excellent commentary on race relations, in addition to being simply a fantastically creepy and unsettling horror film. — Kemberlie Spivey

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The Wiz

(Image credit: Getty)

When Harlem schoolteacher Dorothy (Diana Ross) tries to save her dog from a storm, she miraculously gets whisked away to an urban fantasy land called Oz. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the East upon her arrival, Dorothy is told about the Wiz (Richard Pryor), a wizard who can help her get back to Manhattan. As Dorothy goes in search of the Wiz, she's joined by the Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), the Tin Man (Nipsey Russell) and the Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross). The Wiz provides the audience with a sneak peek into the lives of Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Lion — all with some "SOUL." It’s a great reimagining of the original Wizard of Oz. — Kemberlie Spivey

Watch on Amazon Prime Video (opens in new tab)

Coming to America

Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who will love him in spite of his title. To escape an arranged marriage, Akeem flees to America accompanied by his persnickety sidekick, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to find his queen. Disguised as a foreign student working in a fast food restaurant, he romances Lisa (Shari Headley), but struggles with revealing his true identity to her and his marital intentions to his king father (James Earl Jones). Also featuring excellent performances by John Amos, Eriq LaSalle—as well as a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson—Coming to America is one of the best comedies of the 80s, if not all-time. — Kemberlie Spivey

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