Black History Month is important for everyone—no matter who you are or where you’re from, you can benefit from immersing yourself in the rich, and systemically overlooked, history of Black culture. Fortunately, you’ve got all month to celebrate this joyous time, and diving into films that focus on the spirit of the Black community is a great place to start.
There are hundreds of films that perfectly capture Black joy. Through unity, love and powerful self-expression, these films show us Black characters who celebrate life and make the world a better place. Since these films cover a broad range of subjects, it’s easy for everyone to enjoy these movies. If you’re looking for a fun, enriching way to celebrate Black History Month, check out these fantastic films that embody Black joy.
Music is one of the most important and recognizable aspects of Black culture, and Drumline displays this with power and pride. The story follows Devon, a young man attending a prestigious, historically Black college in Atlanta; the school is renowned for its incredible marching band, and he aspires to join the drumline. Though he’s innately gifted with music, Devon’s attitude and mindset need some work, which his bandmates and band head quickly point out. Throughout the film, we see him grow from a headstrong young drummer into a mature, hardworking musician. It’s a fantastic story and the soundtrack meshes old-school vibes with modern-day sounds!
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a delightful retelling of the classic fairy tale full of Black representation, great music and heart. Icon Brandy takes center stage as Cinderella, and the late Whitney Houston plays a truly empowering Fairy Godmother. What makes this reimagining so enjoyable to watch is the nuance with which the film tells the story—while they haven’t known each other for long, Cinderella and her Prince have genuine chemistry, and their relationship seems believable. On top of this, the Fairy Godmother plays a very involved part in Cinderella’s life, making several appearances to remind her of her worth and help her find the courage to leave her abusive step-family.
6 Jump In!
For fans of Disney Channel Original movies, Jump In! is exactly what you’re looking for. We see young Corbin Bleu and Keke Palmer steal the show in this high-energy flick about an aspiring team of Double Dutch champions. Though Bleu’s character, Izzy, is a boxer and initially dismissive of jump rope as a competitive sport, he ultimately joins the team and finds tremendous enjoyment in it. It’s fun, sweet and has the sort of happy ending that you just can’t help but love. Plus, the film’s jump rope choreography is an absolute treat for the eyes!
5 Last Holiday
Queen Latifah shines in Last Holiday, an inspiring story about a woman who is informed she only has a short time to live. Initially shy and withdrawn, Latifah’s character Georgia decides to take life by the horns after being diagnosed with an untreatable terminal illness. She goes on the vacation of her dreams in the Czech Republic, where she comes out of her shell and finally allows herself to try new things and step into the spotlight. In finding herself, Georgia inspires those around her with joy and optimism, and her happy ending is one truly well-deserved.
4 Black Panther
Even if you’re not a fan of the MCU, you probably know who Black Panther is! Masterfully brought to life by the late Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther shows us the fictional African nation of Wakanda, wherein protagonist T’Challa rises to lead his people with pride and empathy. The people of Wakanda boast incredible technology that T’Challa eventually chooses to share with the world, and we see the film connect with another crucial part of the Marvel Universe in a mid-credits scene. One of the most memorable parts of Black Panther is the Dora Milaje, an all-women squad of elite bodyguards and special forces fighters. The setting empowers everyone: men, women and children are welcomed and respected in Wakanda no matter where they come from.
3 Girls Trip
Looking for a movie that’s perfect for your next Girls’ Night? Girls Trip is a hilarious ride with an insanely talented cast. The film follows four college friends, who reunite to attend a huge music festival. Each woman is dealing with something difficult in her personal life, and the group ultimately grows closer together after a weekend of wild antics. With a cast consisting of legends like Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish, the film is one of the funniest things you’ll see all year. It’s a perfect example of Girl Boss culture: strong, bold and unapologetically feminine.
Both a gorgeous representation of history and a pleasure for the eyes and ears, Dreamgirls shares the story of one of Motown Records’ most famous acts: The Supremes. This powerhouse girl band is gracefully represented by Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé Knowles and Anika Noni Rose, while the role of the band’s manager is played with gusto by none other than Jamie Foxx. The film’s glamorous aesthetic and killer soundtrack is a beautiful complement to the raw undertone of the story, which is heavily inspired by true events.
1 Into the Spiderverse
One of the most recent Marvel entries, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse brings the first Black Spider-Man onto the silver screen—in fact, it brings a lot of Spider-Men and Women into the spotlight! This is the story of Miles Morales, a high schooler and avid fan of his friendly neighborhood Spider-Man; shortly into the film, he’s bitten by a radioactive spider and realizes he has superpowers, too. When he inadvertently finds himself at the center of Spider-Man’s murder and a horrific plot by the villainous Kingpin, he joins forces with a team of fellow Spider Heroes that accidentally portaled into his world. His journey helps him grow into a young man ready and able to fight for his city. The comic book animation style is flawless, and Miles is one of the most endearing versions of Spider-Man yet.
Tom Hardy hopes that Venom will join the Marvel multiverse eventually saying, ‘we would be remiss not to think about that when we’re working on the material.’
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