Five films that celebrate Black excellence


Jian Maldonado

Filmmaker Barry Jenkins directed the coming-of-age drama Moonlight (2016), featuring a Black and LGBTQ+ cast.

Hawa Osman

Hollywood loves Black pain. In popular cinema, Black people often only see their pain and struggle, rarely their joy and success. Although stories of racism, slavery, and other hardships are important to tell, that’s not all Black people are, and there’s another side to their stories. When the world fails to understand that our skin color doesn’t define everything we do, especially in film. Here are 5 movies that showcase black excellence.

Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse (2018)

See an Afro-Latino teenager become one of the greatest heroes of all time, Spider-Man. Miles finds himself watching his universe’s Spider-Man fight to his death. When Miles gets bit, he becomes the new Spider-Man with a new journey. Miles is funny, smart and caring. Both of his parents love him. Often in films, Black families are depicted as being filled with yelling or hitting, so seeing that much affection brought joy to many Black children.

Let It Shine (2012)

This Disney Channel movie follows Cryus, a Black teenager that hides his rap career from his religious family. An old crush, Roxy is now a rising star and having a contest in which the winner gets to make music with Roxy. Cyrus decides to submit a tape and a picture of Cyrus with his friend Chris; this action created many conflicts such as Roxy picking the wrong friend. While Popular among Black children, the movie should be ranked among the best Disney Channel Original Movies, along with movies like High School Musical (2006) as a Disney musical movie. 

Moonlight (2019)

The film won three Oscars for a reason. Throughout Moonlight, the sexuality of Black men is the focus. Following Chiron, who learns how his upbringing and surrounding community molded him into who his unique self. When watching this movie, you’ll wonder: will Chiron stay who he is or will he change to fit the stereotype of a Black man in America?

Cinderella (1997)

If there’s one movie that does not limit its cast to certain races, it is this adaptation of the classic Cinderella. The king is white, the queen is Black, their son is Filipino and last but certainly not least, Cinderella is Black, portrayed by the Black icon Brandy. Seeing a Black woman in such a feminine way is an inspiration to young Black girls that often see themselves masculinized or unrepresented in popular media.

Black Panther (2016)

This movie was revolutionary not only for the superhero community but the Black Community. Black Panther, portrayed by legendary Chadwick Boseman, is the leader of the never-colonized fiction nation of Wakanda. After the death of the king, Black Panther has to step up and deal with the aftermath of his own cousin that grew up African-American, dealing with nuanced cultural differences within the same racial group.

All these films had Black influence in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. They know the target audience. They’re giving Black children the movies they deserve.