Netflix is undoubtedly the pioneer and leader in video streaming, and while the platform wasn’t always the best at bringing Black movies and TV shows to its platform, it has certainly made a concentrated effort to beef up its content library with a collection of Black content for us to binge on. At the same time that Netflix has largely become known for its binge-worthy TV shows, it has been making a huge push into movies over the past couple of years, and with that has come some cool additions to their collection of Black movies! So we wanted to call out some of the more intriguing Black movies in their Black Lives Matter collection so that next time you’re there, you already know what to look for!
- Becoming (2020, 93% Critics Score) – If you love the former First Lady Michelle Obama, then this is a must see movie that really takes a deep look at her life, journey and accomplishments. The documentary follows Obama as she goes on a 34-city tour to promote her book while speaking at a number of meetings, talk shows and panels.
- Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce (2019, 98%) – Netflix reportedly put down $60 million to ink this behind-the-scenes look at Beyonce’s famed 2018 Coachella performance, and it’s hard to say they didn’t get their money’s worth. Besides being critically acclaimed and giving us an inside (albeit somewhat manicured) look at Beyonce that we rarely see, it was outright entertaining, bringing those who couldn’t watch the event in person a chance to see Beyonce at her finest.
- 13th (2016, 97%) – Driven by director Ava Duverney, this amazing documentary explores the “intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States”. The basis for the title of this movie comes from the thirteenth amendment, which outlawed slavery in 1865. However, the movie dives into whether slavery ever really ended, or has the U.S.’s participation in disenfranchisement, convict leasing, and the war on drugs, among other things, actually been the continuation of slavery in just another form.
- Da 5 Bloods (2020, 92%) – From the incredible mind of Spike Lee, the consummate black movie creator, is this amazing movie about a group of black, aging, Vietnam War veterans on a quest to retrace their steps in Vietnam and both the body of their former squad leader and a treasure they buried during their time served in the war. There are number of great reasons to watch this movie, but the rare telling of Black soldiers, as well as a nuanced look at their relationship with the Vietnamese, is chief among them.
- The Black Godfather (2019, 100%) – I’m almost ashamed to say that I didn’t know who Clarence Avant was until I watched this movie, but then again, when I think of the saying, “real G’s move in silence”, I can’t really blame myself for missing out on this real G! While others are certainly in contention, the movie walks you through just why Avant is the godfather of Black music and perhaps the most important person in the history of Black music. With interviews from Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy, Kamala Harris and Dina Andrews, this documentary gives you an inside look at a man who routinely, and powerfully, stayed behind the scenes making things happen in the world of music.
- See You Yesterday (2019, 93%) – Let’s be honest, there aren’t a ton of sci-fi black movies out there, but maybe this one from a few years ago is on the cusp of something. The movie follows two science-experiment-oriented kids as they dabble in time travel and attempt to affect the harm of injustices in their neighborhood in present day.
- American Son (2019, 46%) – Okay, so I know it has a low critic’s score, but we had to have one “stinker” on the board, right? Then again, I think the main reason this movie failed with the critics is that it’s really a play that failed to significantly transfer over to the world of movies. The entire movie takes place in a singular police station, as a black mother, played by Kerry Washington, awaits news of her missing son. Soon into the movie, we learn that the son’s father is white and has ties to the police.
- Loving (2016, 88%) – When you look at the media and its fixation on interracial couples of black and white backgrounds, black men and white women are usually at the center of the story. However, one of the true and most important stories in interrecial marriage in United States history revolves around a black woman and a white man, Mildred and Richard Loving, whose attempts to marry became fodder for the Supreme Court. This is a dramatized retelling–not a documentary.
- Monster (2021, 68%) – So this one didn’t get much love from the critics either, but instead of going with the oft-talked about “When They See Us”, I thought I’d introduce another courtroom drama. Yes, I know we’re tired of seeing ourselves in this light so frequently, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell our stories, as sad as they may be, because ultimately, our stories are stories of triumph in the end. In “Monster,” we watch as a seemingly innocent, black, teen fights to clear his name against unscrupulous criminal justice system.
- She’s Gotta Have It (1986, 94%) – Okay, so while Netflix is full of new stuff, they have some old school Black movies in their too. Particularly, we have to show love to Spike Lee’s feature-film debut, which is now in the U.S. National Film Registry. This film was made on a budget of just $175k, which you might say is a decent amount accounting for inflation since the 1980’s, however, you’d be thinking about it in terms of today’s technology and resources–which didn’t exist back then. But more importantly than the sheer will of making this movie is the power behind it. The movie tells the story of Norla Darling, an artist in Brooklyn who has several suitors and refuses to choose between any of them. That type of sexual liberation for wome was rare in the 80s, and even more so for black women. Watching this movie will give you an unbeknownst crash course lesson in just how much times have changed–and stayed the same.
Of course, while Netflix does have a good selection of Black movies, they aren’t the only ones telling Black stories. BlackOakTV, while short on the feature-length movies, does have a number of short, black movies to watch, and of course, those are accompanied by our ever-growing collection of original, independent Black TV shows.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.