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The Cinemasters Staff's Favorite Films For Black History Month

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

In honor of Black History Month, the writers here at Cinemasters want to show our admiration for the monumentous achievements made in Black cinema. The following are the top three favorite films of each writer with black directors/writers or casts. Hopefully you enjoy and happy Black History Month from!

Rua's Picks:

Do The Right Thing dir. Spike Lee (1989)

My favorite film from renowned New York director, Spike Lee. Lee's contributions to black cinema and filmmaking in general are too important to go ignored. Now more relevant than ever, Do The Right Thing is a movie about how racial prejudice can loom large over a community and tear it apart. Even after my first watch I knew this was something special. From the brilliant performances by Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro, Samuel L. Jackson and Lee himself to the interesting cinematography, Do The Right Thing is such an impressive film it's hard to believe that Spike Lee directed, produced, and wrote it all at the age of 32. An absolute must-watch for Black History Month!

Sorry To Bother You dir. Boots Riley (2018)

Boots Riley's directorial debut: Sorry To Bother You has got to be one of the most unique films I've ever seen. The performances by Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson stand out like nothing they've done before. Every aspect of this film is so vibrant, so clever, and just so incredibly well-made. It has so much important commentary about capitalism, the working class and false consciousness. There's a running theme in this movie about the black characters having a "white voice" and despite being handled in a comedic way illustrates a huge problem with race relations in America that not a ton of non-black people have had to think about. It's a film unlike anything I've ever seen before and I cannot wait to see what Boots Riley does next.

Get Out dir. Jordan Peele (2017)

Who would've thought that famous comedy writer, Jordan Peele would be such an incredible horror director? Along with having some really effective scares, Get Out also has one of the most creative plots to come out of Hollywood in recent years. Even as someone who will never know what it's like to be black in America, Jordan Peele and actor, Daniel Kaluuya do a great job at conveying this sense of uneasiness where you can really put yourself in the shoes of the main character as well as the odd-one-out feeling of being the only black person in a room full of white people. There's also some great commentary about white liberalism in Get Out and you'll find something more to love with each subsequent watch.

Ella's Picks:

Black Panther dir. Ryan Coogler (2018)

We will never ever have another Chadwick Boseman. Seeing the outpour of love on social media for this film is something that will never be topped for me. Never before has a Marvel film been so visually stunning in my opinion. Every time I rewatch Black Panther it always feels like the first time I've seen it, with its amazing action sequences, and a killer soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar. It’s no surprise this got Marvel Studios its’ first Oscar, since it’s probably one of, if not the most, iconic film of the decade. Wakanda forever!

Blackkklansman dir. Spike Lee (2018)

Blackkklansman gave us some amazing moments: the masterful editing, John David Washington’s breakout performance, and of course, Spike Lee’s well deserved screenplay win and hug with Samuel L. Jackson at the Oscars in February 2019. Blackkklansman was the first “Spike Lee Joint” I ever watched and I’ve been dying to watch more of his films ever since. With such an interesting true story behind it, Lee masterfully tells it with such clear direction and a screenplay that’s amazingly tense, funny, and impactful. I highly recommend this as an all-around masterclass that’s both extremely relevant and enjoyable.

One Night In Miami dir. Regina King (2020)

One Night In Miami is garnering a lot of Oscar attention for a reason. Regina King's smooth directorial debut along with Kingsley Ben-Adir and Leslie Odom Jr.'s performances deserves a lot of credit. It's a slow-burn centering around men who played significant roles in the civil rights movement. It features everything from little one liners from Muhammad Ali to a final scene that will stick with you long after you finish the movie. It's a fascinating yet fictional look at how these legends who shaped the movement viewed the times they were living in. When Leslie Odom Jr. wins two Golden Globes for best supporting actor in a motion picture for this and limited series or TV movie for Hamilton, then what?

Cooper's Picks:

Spider-Man; Into The Spiderverse dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman (2018)

When I saw that Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse was being produced and followed the story of Miles Morales, I was terrified. Not because it wasn’t following Peter Parker and I’m a traditionalist, but rather, because Miles Morales in the comics was the most bland character I’d read in a very long time. However, when the film came out, it blew the world away, including me. It fleshed out the character in a unique way, giving depth to not just a black/latino character, but also renewing a character who previously, simply put...sucked. Having representation for people of color in a film who isn’t just there, but is the main character, is a believable character, and is genuinely unique and likable is something I’m ecstatic is becoming a mainstay for Superhero films.

Fruitvale Station dir. Ryan Coogler (2013)

Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut, Fruitville Station is a biographical drama about the death of Oscar Grant, a young man whose death at the hands of police in 2009 sparked a series of protests in Oakland, California. The film is beautifully directed, and narratively shows how the young man, played by Michael B. Jordan, was just another person, who was a victim of the system. The film encapsulates a truly shocking feeling even for people who knew the tragedy that befell Grant, and is a must see for everybody, quite honestly.

Moonlight dir. Barry Jenkins (2016)

Moonlight is often referred to as the best film of the decade, and it deserves that praise. Following a very literal 3-act structure, the movie follows Chiron, a gay, black man, as he grows up and discovers who he is during 3 unique times of his life. Artistically, the film is stunning, and it delves into a unique and incredibly powerful story of what it means to be black in America, an experience we don’t often see portrayed in Hollywood.

Cade's Picks:

Dolemite Is My Name dir. Craig Brewer (2019)

I’m a massive fan of b-films and the blaxploitation genre as a whole. I still remember my first time watching this film. It’s one of the best the genre has to offer, and fantastically captured the personality of Rudy Ray Moore. I was insanely excited when I heard about this film, and I was so happy with how it turned out! Eddie Murphy stars in the best role of his career, and after a streak of mid/bad acting roles from Murphy (*ahem* A Thousand Words *ahem*), this is such a breath of fresh air. His performance absolutely steals the show, but the other performances from Keegan-Michael Key, Snoop Dogg, and Craig Robinson are also extraordinary as well. The story of Moore’s rise to fame is really fascinating, and the way that director Craig Brewer captured that was outstanding. It’s truly a shame that this wasn’t nominated for any Oscars in 2020, because the screenplay would’ve been a fantastic candidate and Murphy’s performance was truly demanding of a best actor nomination.

Bamboozled dir. Spike Lee (2000)

There’s a lot of obvious choices when it comes to admiring the career of Spike Lee, but I wholeheartedly feel that Bamboozled is a career high, and often gets too overlooked. It’s a biting satire of the entertainment industry, and after the recent events of last year in which tv series and actors were blasted for donning modern blackface, I feel that this film’s message is more relevant than ever. The ensemble cast is absolutely fantastic, and I feel that the screenplay for the film was masterfully crafted and well written. Upon the film’s release, it flopped at the box office ($2.5 million from a $10 million budget), and received mixed reviews from critics, however again I feel that this movie has aged wonderfully. While it might be overshadowed by films such as Do The Right Thing and Blackkklansman, it’s not one that should go unnoticed. Do yourself a favor, and try this one out.

Dope dir. Rick Famuyiwa (2015)

What a delightful film! I remember hearing about Dope back in 2015, being a small indie flick that critics were fawning over. I really waited too long before finally sitting down and actually watching it, and I'm incredibly happy I did. The film follows Malcolm Adekanbi and a group of his friends, the so-called “bottoms” AKA the high school geeks, and their skirmish with a drug dealer at a local party. It is really a simple story, yet it does so much more with the awesome performances, as well as incredible direction. Definitely a worthy watch from the Nigerian filmmaker.

There's no doubting that the film industry would not be the same without all of its black creatives and artists, make sure to check some of these films out if you're interested. On behalf of everyone here at Cinemasters we want to wish all of our readers a happy Black History Month!

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