Friday, February 28, 2014

TOP 10: Spotlight on Black Cinema

When I made my New Year's Movie Resolutions earlier this year, I vowed to watch more black cinema. In light of this, I thought it would be appropriate to revamp this list. So on this final day of Black History Month, I present to you my Top 10 list of my favourite black films, actors and directors:

These are some of my absolute favourite films, not just "black films". They cover a wide range of cultures, genres and time periods.

1. City of God
Devastating, Artful and Dazzling in equal measure.

2. 12 Years A Slave
A comprehensive and artful examination of slavery that is sure to linger.

3. Blood Diamond
A gripping, vital tale about the dark side of the diamond industry.

4. The Color Purple
A tremendously moving film with powerhouse performances from its ensemble cast.

5. Do The Right Thing
An incendiary tale that exposes the ugliness of bigotry.

5. Hotel Rwanda
A film that is harrowing and poignant, anchored by an outstanding performance by Don Cheadle.

7. In The Heat of the Night
An interesting take on racism that is fun to watch but is also very thought-provoking.

8. Boyz n the Hood
A heartfelt ode to father-son relationships and the urban struggle.

9. Beasts of the Southern Wild
A gorgeous, poetic film with 2 of the finest acting debuts in years.

10. Django Unchained
Quentin's interpretation of the slavery era is stylish, daring and of course, wildly entertaining.
Jamie Foxx's stunning performance elevates this film to greatness.

This list represents my all-time favourites, taking into account their previous performances. Some of these actors aren't currently active but they have been stellar performers before.

1. Denzel Washington
The perfect combination of movie-star charm and immense talent.

2. Sidney Poitier
An actor of such class and skill that he defied boundaries, paving the way for many black actors today.

3. Don Cheadle
Easily one of the most reliable actors in Hollywood.

4. Djimon Hounsou
An actor of such intense, captivating allure that it's impossible to look away when he's on screen.

5. Viola Davis
An actress of immaculate skill who nails every role she plays.

6. Cicely Tyson
A trailblazer who embodies poise and grace.

7. Will Smith
A real movie star who is never less than interesting.

8. Kerry Washington
A rare blend of striking beauty, talent and intelligence.

9. Morgan Freeman
A living legend who can still act circles around many of today's rising stars.

10. Samuel L. Jackson
The definition of "cool" and "badassness" and one of the best character actors ever. 

There are lots of great black directors out there, but these are perhaps the ones who were lucky enough to gain access to the resources and exposure to build a significant profile. In case you were wondering, I fully admit to enjoying a few guilty pleasure Tyler Perry films.

1. Spike Lee
Essential Film: Do The Right Thing

2. Steve McQueen
Essential Film: 12 Years A Slave

3. John Singleton
Essential Film: Boyz n the Hood

4. Raoul Peck
Essential Film: Lumumba

5. Lee Daniels
Essential Film: Precious

6. Gina Prince-Bythewood
Essential Film: Love and Basketball

7. Tyler Perry
Essential Film: For Colored Girls

8. Kasi Lemmons
Essential Film: Talk to Me

9. The Hughes Brothers
Essential Film: Menace II Society

10. Antoine Fuqua
Essential Film: Training Day


  1. Super list.

    When I saw the title of the post, I thought you have listed about "African" cinema !


  2. Great post. I've seen many of these films.

    I just remembered The Great Debaters - second directing work of Washington.

    1. Thanks. The Great Debaters is a good film. Denzel's a talented director!

  3. I LOVE Boyz N The Hood amongst others on this great list. I've had to correct many mistaken folks who thought it was a Spike Lee film.

  4. That mistake really goes to show the quality of the film and Singleton's ability as a director. Great film.