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The 100 Best Movies on Disney+ (January 2022)

Disney+ covers over 100 years of its flagship studio’s history, from early animated shorts to groundbreaking full-length animated features to family live-action classics to the blockbuster triumvirate of superheroes, space operas, and 3D computer animation of today. It’s a big spread of time filled with classics, some middling stuff, and even a few disasters. Rotten Tomatoes is here to discover and present only the movies with the highest Tomatometer scores on Disney+!

Looking for classic Disney animated movies? Disney+ has them, and we’ve chosen the Freshest, like Cinderella, Fantasia, 101 Dalmatians, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. For more recent Disney animated movies, the best among that crop includes Zootopia, Moana, and Frozen. Of course, you can’t talk Disney animation these days without including Pixar, who are represented in Certified Fresh full with Toy Story, Inside Out, The Incredibles, and more.

But Walt Disney Studios also has a long, honored tradition of family-friendly live-action films, too, and the streaming service does not skimp out. Here, you’ll find those delightful animation/live-action hybrids (Mary Poppins, Pete’s Dragon), sports classics (The Rookie, Miracle, Remember the Titans), and some sweet sci-fi (TRON).

If you’re looking to get lost in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney+ is launching a few films short of a full Avengers line-up: Expect to see Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man and a several more, and expect us to update the list as more are added in the future. And, of course, Star Wars is here in full force: From A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, to the modern era featuring The Force Awakens and spin-offs like Rogue One. Our only stipulation for inclusion in our guide is that each film featured here is Certified Fresh, which means it maintained a high Tomatometer score after meeting a minimum number of critics reviews.

As streaming continues to shake up the entertainment landscape, threatening to bury audiences under a deluge of viewing choices, we present a fast track into what you want to see with the 100 Best Movies on Disney+ to Watch Right Now!

MORE ON DISNEY+: The Best Disney+ Shows and Original MoviesAll Disney Animated Movies Ranked | All Star Wars Movies Ranked | All MCU Movies RankedAll Pixar Movies Ranked

#100
#100
Adjusted Score: 87090%
Critics Consensus: Offering Monsters, Inc. fans a return visit with beloved characters, Monsters University delivers funny and thoughtful family entertainment for viewers of any age.
Synopsis: Ever since he was a kid monster, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) has dreamed of becoming a Scarer. To make his... [More]
Directed By: Dan Scanlon

#99
Adjusted Score: 89804%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment.
Synopsis: It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#98
Adjusted Score: 91497%
Critics Consensus: With Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas brings his second Star Wars trilogy to a suitably thrilling and often poignant -- if still a bit uneven -- conclusion.
Synopsis: It has been three years since the Clone Wars began. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jedi Knight Anakin... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#97

Fantasia 2000 (1999)
81%

#97
Adjusted Score: 84370%
Critics Consensus: It provides an entertaining experience for adults and children alike.
Synopsis: "Fantasia/2000" continues and builds upon Walt Disney's original idea with the creation of a new musical program interpreted by a... [More]

#96

Miracle (2004)
81%

#96
Adjusted Score: 85821%
Critics Consensus: Kurt Russell's performance guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness.
Synopsis: When college coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is hired to helm the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team, he brings... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#95

Black Widow (2021)
79%

#95
Adjusted Score: 103849%
Critics Consensus: Black Widow's deeper themes are drowned out in all the action, but it remains a solidly entertaining standalone adventure that's rounded out by a stellar supporting cast.
Synopsis: Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her... [More]
Directed By: Cate Shortland

#94
Adjusted Score: 91162%
Critics Consensus: Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.
Synopsis: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) battles horrible Jabba the Hut and cruel Darth Vader to save his comrades in the Rebel... [More]
Directed By: Richard Marquand

#93

Avatar (2009)
81%

#93
Adjusted Score: 94655%
Critics Consensus: It might be more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling, but Avatar reaffirms James Cameron's singular gift for imaginative, absorbing filmmaking.
Synopsis: On the lush alien world of Pandora live the Na'vi, beings who appear primitive but are highly evolved. Because the... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#92

Ant-Man (2015)
83%

#92
Adjusted Score: 96058%
Critics Consensus: Led by a charming performance from Paul Rudd, Ant-Man offers Marvel thrills on an appropriately smaller scale -- albeit not as smoothly as its most successful predecessors.
Synopsis: Forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits the talents of... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#91
#91
Adjusted Score: 93267%
Critics Consensus: Unapologetically sweet and maybe even a little corny, The Sound of Music will win over all but the most cynical filmgoers with its classic songs and irresistible warmth.
Synopsis: A tuneful, heartwarming story, it is based on the real life story of the Von Trapp Family singers, one of... [More]
Directed By: Robert Wise

#90

The Book of Life (2014)
83%

#90
Adjusted Score: 86918%
Critics Consensus: The Book of Life's gorgeous animation is a treat, but it's a pity that its story lacks the same level of craft and detail that its thrilling visuals provide.
Synopsis: In the Mexican town of San Angel, Manolo (Diego Luna), Maria (Zoë Saldana) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) have been friends... [More]
Directed By: Jorge R. Gutierrez

#89

Hercules (1997)
84%

#89
Adjusted Score: 86112%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced and packed with dozens of pop culture references, Hercules might not measure up with the true classics of the Disney pantheon, but it's still plenty of fun.
Synopsis: Disney tackles Greek mythology in this animated feature. Hercules (Tate Donovan), a son of gods, was snatched as a baby... [More]
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

#88
#88
Adjusted Score: 84771%
Critics Consensus: An amazing array of images from beneath the sea.
Synopsis: Director James Cameron travels with the crew of a Russian research vessel as they plunge into the depths of the... [More]

#87

The Rookie (2002)
84%

#87
Adjusted Score: 87870%
Critics Consensus: A heart-warming sports flick, The Rookie greatly benefits from understated direction and the emotional honesty Dennis Quaid brings to the role of Jim Morris.
Synopsis: A true story about a coach who discovers that it's never too late for dreams to come true. Jim Morris... [More]
Directed By: John Lee Hancock

#86
Adjusted Score: 113388%
Critics Consensus: Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground -- and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.
Synopsis: Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter, Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing... [More]
Directed By: Gareth Edwards

#85

Born in China (2016)
85%

#85
Adjusted Score: 87690%
Critics Consensus: Disneynature Born In China delivers more of the breathtaking footage the series is known for -- and more than enough cuddly anthropomorphic action to keep the kids entertained.
Synopsis: From frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest, filmmaker Lu Chuan follows the adventures of three animal families... [More]
Directed By: Lu Chuan

#84
#84
Adjusted Score: 89849%
Critics Consensus: The Emperor's New Groove isn't the most ambitious animated film, but its brisk pace, fresh characters, and big laughs make for a great time for the whole family.
Synopsis: Arrogant young Emperor Kuzco is transformed into a llama by his power-hungry advisor -- the devious diva Yzma. Stranded in... [More]
Directed By: Mark Dindal

#83
#83
Adjusted Score: 93148%
Critics Consensus: The warmth of traditional Disney animation makes this occasionally lightweight fairy-tale update a lively and captivating confection for the holidays.
Synopsis: Hardworking and ambitious, Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) dreams of one day opening the finest restaurant in New Orleans. Her dream... [More]
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

#82

X2 (2003)
85%

#82
Adjusted Score: 92699%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
Synopsis: Stryker (Brian Cox), a villianous former Army commander, holds the key to Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) past and the future of... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#81
Adjusted Score: 116210%
Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's action-packed plot, dazzling visuals, and irreverent humor add up to a sequel that's almost as fun -- if not quite as thrillingly fresh -- as its predecessor.
Synopsis: Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#80

Anastasia (1997)
86%

#80
Adjusted Score: 88171%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful animation, an affable take on Russian history, and strong voice performances make Anastasia a winning first film from Fox animation studios.
Synopsis: The evil wizard Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) puts a hex on the royal Romanovs and young Anastasia (Meg Ryan) disappears when... [More]
Directed By: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman

#79

Mulan (1998)
86%

#79
Adjusted Score: 90110%
Critics Consensus: Exploring themes of family duty and honor, Mulan breaks new ground as a Disney film, while still bringing vibrant animation and sprightly characters to the screen.
Synopsis: Fearful that her ailing father will be drafted into the Chinese military, Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) takes his spot -- though,... [More]
Directed By: Barry Cook, Tony Bancroft

#78

Lilo & Stitch (2002)
86%

#78
Adjusted Score: 90573%
Critics Consensus: Edgier than traditional Disney fare, Lilo and Stitch explores issues of family while providing a fun and charming story.
Synopsis: A tale of a young girl's close encounter with the galaxy's most wanted extraterrestrial. Lilo is a lonely Hawaiian girl... [More]

#77

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
87%

#77
Adjusted Score: 93900%
Critics Consensus: Equally entertaining for both kids and parents old enough to catch the references, Wreck-It Ralph is a clever, colorful adventure built on familiar themes and joyful nostalgia.
Synopsis: Arcade-game character Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is tired of always being the "bad guy" and losing to his "good... [More]
Directed By: Rich Moore

#76
#76
Adjusted Score: 94831%
Critics Consensus: The Peanuts Movie offers a colorful gateway into the world of its classic characters and a sweetly nostalgic -- if relatively unambitious -- treat for the adults who grew up with them.
Synopsis: Life always seems complicated for good ol' Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp), the boy who always tries his best against seemingly... [More]
Directed By: Steve Martino

#75

The Jungle Book (1967)
88%

#75
Adjusted Score: 90398%
Critics Consensus: With expressive animation, fun characters, and catchy songs, The Jungle Book endures as a crowd-pleasing Disney classic.
Synopsis: In this classic Walt Disney animation based on Rudyard Kipling's book, Mowgli, an abandoned child raised by wolves, has his... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Reitherman

#74

The Muppet Movie (1979)
88%

#74
Adjusted Score: 92295%
Critics Consensus: The Muppet Movie, the big-screen debut of Jim Henson's plush creations, is smart, lighthearted, and fun for all ages.
Synopsis: After Kermit the Frog decides to pursue a movie career, he starts his cross-country trip from Florida to California. Along... [More]
Directed By: James Frawley

#73

Freaky Friday (2003)
88%

#73
Adjusted Score: 92087%
Critics Consensus: Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan charm in Mark Waters' nicely pitched -- and Disney's second -- remake of the 1976 hit.
Synopsis: Single mother Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her teenage daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan) couldn't be more different, and it... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#72

Millions (2004)
88%

#72
Adjusted Score: 93240%
Critics Consensus: A charming children fable even adults can enjoy.
Synopsis: When 9-year-old Damian (Alex Etel) finds a bag of money in his back yard, he and his brother Anthony (Lewis... [More]
Directed By: Danny Boyle

#71

Pete's Dragon (2016)
88%

#71
Adjusted Score: 102293%
Critics Consensus: Pete's Dragon continues Disney's current live-action winning streak with an update that gives the original a visual overhaul without overwhelming its sweet, soulful charm.
Synopsis: Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), a woodcarver, delights local children with stories of a mysterious dragon that lives deep in the... [More]
Directed By: David Lowery

#70

Onward (2020)
88%

#70
Adjusted Score: 112034%
Critics Consensus: It may suffer in comparison to Pixar's classics, but Onward makes effective use of the studio's formula -- and stands on its own merits as a funny, heartwarming, dazzlingly animated adventure.
Synopsis: Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father.... [More]
Directed By: Dan Scanlon

#69

Sleeping Beauty (1959)
89%

#69
Adjusted Score: 93030%
Critics Consensus: This Disney dreamscape contains moments of grandeur, with its lush colors, magical air, one of the most menacing villains in the Disney canon.
Synopsis: Filled with jealousy, the evil witch Maleficent (Eleanor Audley) curses Princess Aurora (Mary Costa) to die on her 16th birthday.... [More]
Directed By: Clyde Geronimi

#68

Tarzan (1999)
89%

#68
Adjusted Score: 92399%
Critics Consensus: Disney's Tarzan takes the well-known story to a new level with spirited animation, a brisk pace, and some thrilling action set-pieces..
Synopsis: In this Disney animated tale, the orphaned Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn) grows up in the remote African wilderness, raised by the... [More]
Directed By: Chris Buck, Kevin Lima

#67

Bolt (2008)
89%

#67
Adjusted Score: 96474%
Critics Consensus: Bolt is a pleasant animated comedy that overcomes the story's familiarity with strong visuals and likable characters.
Synopsis: The days of canine superstar Bolt (John Travolta) are filled with danger and intrigue ... until the cameras stop rolling.... [More]

#66

Big Hero 6 (2014)
90%

#66
Adjusted Score: 98667%
Critics Consensus: Agreeably entertaining and brilliantly animated, Big Hero 6 is briskly-paced, action-packed, and often touching.
Synopsis: Robotics prodigy Hiro (Ryan Potter) lives in the city of San Fransokyo. Next to his older brother, Tadashi, Hiro's closest... [More]
Directed By: Don Hall, Chris Williams

#65

Tangled (2010)
89%

#65
Adjusted Score: 97636%
Critics Consensus: While far from Disney's greatest film, Tangled is a visually stunning, thoroughly entertaining addition to the studio's classic animated canon.
Synopsis: When the kingdom's most-wanted bandit, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), hides in a convenient tower, he immediately becomes a captive of... [More]
Directed By: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard

#64

Doctor Strange (2016)
89%

#64
Adjusted Score: 112604%
Critics Consensus: Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.
Synopsis: Dr. Stephen Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When... [More]
Directed By: Scott Derrickson

#63

Bambi (1942)
91%

#63
Adjusted Score: 96249%
Critics Consensus: Elegantly animated and deeply touching, Bambi is an enduring, endearing, and moving Disney classic.
Synopsis: In a classic Disney animation, a fawn named Bambi joins his new friends, a young rabbit named Thumper and a... [More]
Directed By: David Hand

#62

Bears (2014)
90%

#62
Adjusted Score: 91819%
Critics Consensus: Sweet, beautifully filmed, and admirably short on sugarcoating, Bears continues Disneynature's winning streak.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey chronicle a year in the lives of an Alaskan brown bear named Sky and... [More]
Starring: John C. Reilly

#61

Frozen (2013)
90%

#61
Adjusted Score: 100194%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated, smartly written, and stocked with singalong songs, Frozen adds another worthy entry to the Disney canon.
Synopsis: When their kingdom becomes trapped in perpetual winter, fearless Anna (Kristen Bell) joins forces with mountaineer Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and... [More]
Directed By: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

#60
Adjusted Score: 102467%
Critics Consensus: Suspenseful and politically astute, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior entry in the Avengers canon and is sure to thrill Marvel diehards.
Synopsis: After the cataclysmic events in New York with his fellow Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), lives in... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#59
Adjusted Score: 104547%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#58

Isle of Dogs (2018)
90%

#58
Adjusted Score: 111580%
Critics Consensus: The beautifully stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs finds Wes Anderson at his detail-oriented best while telling one of the director's most winsomely charming stories.
Synopsis: When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island,... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#57
Adjusted Score: 117397%
Critics Consensus: Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes.
Synopsis: Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 126919%
Critics Consensus: Star Wars: The Last Jedi honors the saga's rich legacy while adding some surprising twists -- and delivering all the emotion-rich action fans could hope for.
Synopsis: Luke Skywalker's peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of... [More]
Directed By: Rian Johnson

#55

Splash (1984)
91%

#55
Adjusted Score: 93087%
Critics Consensus: A perfectly light, warmly funny romantic comedy that's kept afloat by Ron Howard's unobtrusive direction and charming performances from Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah.
Synopsis: A young boy saved from drowning by a beautiful mermaid, falls in love with her 20 years later when she... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#54
Adjusted Score: 93204%
Critics Consensus: Ever After is a sweet, frothy twist on the ancient fable, led by a solid turn from star Barrymore.
Synopsis: This updated adaptation of the classic fairytale tells the story of Danielle (Drew Barrymore), a vibrant young woman who is... [More]
Directed By: Andy Tennant

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 94369%
Critics Consensus: The arresting and dynamic visuals, offbeat details and light-as-air storytelling make James and the Giant Peach solid family entertainment.
Synopsis: Featuring stop-motion animation and live action, this inventive adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's tale follows the adventures of James... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#52

Winnie the Pooh (2011)
90%

#52
Adjusted Score: 94643%
Critics Consensus: Short, nostalgic, and gently whimsical, Winnie the Pooh offers young audiences -- and their parents -- a sweetly traditional family treat.
Synopsis: Three stories inspired by A.A. Milne add up to a very busy day for Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) and... [More]

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 106046%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes' humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies.
Synopsis: When Thor's evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract,... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#50

A Bug's Life (1998)
92%

#50
Adjusted Score: 96755%
Critics Consensus: A Bug's Life is a rousing adventure that blends animated thrills with witty dialogue and memorable characters - and another smashing early success for Pixar.
Synopsis: Flik (Dave Foley) is an inventive ant who's always messing things up for his colony. His latest mishap was destroying... [More]

#49
Adjusted Score: 105728%
Critics Consensus: A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same.
Synopsis: The Imperial Forces -- under orders from cruel Darth Vader (David Prowse) -- hold Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hostage, in... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 105691%
Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy is just as irreverent as fans of the frequently zany Marvel comic would expect -- as well as funny, thrilling, full of heart, and packed with visual splendor.
Synopsis: Brash space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 97138%
Critics Consensus: A nostalgic charmer, Lady and the Tramp's token sweetness is mighty but the songs and richly colored animation are technically superb and make for a memorable experience.
Synopsis: This Disney animated classic follows a pampered cocker spaniel named Lady (Barbara Luddy) whose comfortable life slips away once her... [More]

#46

Monkey Kingdom (2015)
93%

#46
Adjusted Score: 94645%
Critics Consensus: Monkey Kingdom's breathtaking footage of primates in the wild is likely to please animal lovers of all ages.
Synopsis: In South Asia, Maya the monkey and her son Kip struggle to survive within the competitive social hierarchy of the... [More]
Starring: Tina Fey

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 97886%
Critics Consensus: The Little Mermaid ushered in a new golden era for Disney animation with warm and charming hand-drawn characters and catchy musical sequences.
Synopsis: In Disney's beguiling animated romp, rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel (Jodi Benson) is fascinated with life on land. On one of... [More]
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

#44

The Lion King (1994)
93%

#44
Adjusted Score: 101779%
Critics Consensus: Emotionally stirring, richly drawn, and beautifully animated, The Lion King is a pride within Disney's pantheon of classic family films.
Synopsis: This Disney animated feature follows the adventures of the young lion Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), the heir of his father,... [More]
Directed By: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 102151%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal -- and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation.
Synopsis: After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#42

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
93%

#42
Adjusted Score: 126308%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise -- and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Synopsis: Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits... [More]
Directed By: Taika Waititi

#41
Adjusted Score: 110988%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series' former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.
Synopsis: Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren... [More]
Directed By: J.J. Abrams

#40
Adjusted Score: 104208%
Critics Consensus: Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.
Synopsis: The adventure continues in this "Star Wars" sequel. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)... [More]
Directed By: Irvin Kershner

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 103564%
Critics Consensus: Enchanting, sweepingly romantic, and featuring plenty of wonderful musical numbers, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most elegant animated offerings.
Synopsis: An arrogant young prince (Robby Benson) and his castle's servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, who turns... [More]
Directed By: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

#38

Queen of Katwe (2016)
94%

#38
Adjusted Score: 104636%
Critics Consensus: Queen of Katwe is a feel-good movie of uncommon smarts and passion, and outstanding performances by Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo help to elevate the film past its cliches.
Synopsis: Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her... [More]
Directed By: Mira Nair

#37

Iron Man (2008)
94%

#37
Adjusted Score: 104568%
Critics Consensus: Powered by Robert Downey Jr.'s vibrant charm, Iron Man turbo-charges the superhero genre with a deft intelligence and infectious sense of fun.
Synopsis: A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 108699%
Critics Consensus: Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continues the studio's increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever.
Synopsis: Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known... [More]

#35

Finding Dory (2016)
94%

#35
Adjusted Score: 115466%
Critics Consensus: Funny, poignant, and thought-provoking, Finding Dory delivers a beautifully animated adventure that adds another entertaining chapter to its predecessor's classic story.
Synopsis: Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 127908%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, entertaining, and emotionally impactful, Avengers: Endgame does whatever it takes to deliver a satisfying finale to Marvel's epic Infinity Saga.
Synopsis: Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#33

Fantasia (1940)
95%

#33
Adjusted Score: 100171%
Critics Consensus: A landmark in animation (and a huge influence on the medium of music video), Disney's Fantasia is a relentlessly inventive blend of the classics with phantasmagorical images.
Synopsis: Released in 1940, represented Disney's boldest experiment to date. Bringing to life his vision of blending animated imagery with classical... [More]

#32

Black Is King (2020)
94%

#32
Adjusted Score: 96825%
Critics Consensus: Beyoncé is King.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: Beyoncé
Directed By: Beyoncé

#31

Aladdin (1992)
95%

#31
Adjusted Score: 100265%
Critics Consensus: A highly entertaining entry in Disney's renaissance era," Aladdin is beautifully drawn, with near-classic songs and a cast of scene-stealing characters.
Synopsis: When street rat Aladdin frees a genie from a lamp, he finds his wishes granted. However, he soon finds that... [More]
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

#30
Adjusted Score: 103690%
Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown's beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 99399%
Critics Consensus: With strong performances and director David Lynch at the helm, The Straight Story steers past sentimental byways on its ambling journey across the American heartland.
Synopsis: A retired farmer and widower in his 70s, Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) learns one day that his distant brother Lyle... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#28

The Muppets (2011)
95%

#28
Adjusted Score: 102952%
Critics Consensus: Clever, charming, and heartfelt, The Muppets is a welcome big screen return for Jim Henson's lovable creations that will both win new fans and delight longtime devotees.
Synopsis: Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, is on vacation in Los Angeles with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary's... [More]
Directed By: James Bobin

#27

WALL-E (2008)
95%

#27
Adjusted Score: 105657%
Critics Consensus: Wall-E's stellar visuals testify once again to Pixar's ingenuity, while its charming star will captivate younger viewers -- and its timely story offers thought-provoking subtext.
Synopsis: WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton

#26

Moana (2016)
95%

#26
Adjusted Score: 112810%
Critics Consensus: With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney's time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages.
Synopsis: An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty... [More]
Directed By: John Musker, Ron Clements

#25

Soul (2020)
95%

#25
Adjusted Score: 119524%
Critics Consensus: A film as beautiful to contemplate as it is to behold, Soul proves Pixar's power to deliver outstanding all-ages entertainment remains undimmed.
Synopsis: Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn't quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 101833%
Critics Consensus: Irrefutable proof that gentle sentimentalism can be the chief ingredient in a wonderful film, Miracle on 34th Street delivers a warm holiday message without resorting to treacle.
Synopsis: In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an... [More]
Directed By: George Seaton

#23

Monsters, Inc. (2001)
96%

#23
Adjusted Score: 102927%
Critics Consensus: Clever, funny, and delightful to look at, Monsters, Inc. delivers another resounding example of how Pixar elevated the bar for modern all-ages animation.
Synopsis: Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) is one of... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#22

Ratatouille (2007)
96%

#22
Adjusted Score: 106016%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced and stunningly animated, Ratatouille adds another delightfully entertaining entry -- and a rather unlikely hero -- to the Pixar canon.
Synopsis: Remy (Patton Oswalt), a resident of Paris, appreciates good food and has quite a sophisticated palate. He would love to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#21

Black Panther (2018)
96%

#21
Adjusted Score: 128729%
Critics Consensus: Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU's most absorbing stories -- and introducing some of its most fully realized characters.
Synopsis: After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 101997%
Critics Consensus: Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an innovative and entertaining film that features a groundbreaking mix of live action and animation, with a touching and original story to boot.
Synopsis: Down-on-his-luck private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) gets hired by cartoon producer R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) to investigate an adultery... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#19

Big (1988)
97%

#19
Adjusted Score: 102799%
Critics Consensus: Refreshingly sweet and undeniably funny, Big is a showcase for Tom Hanks, who dives into his role and infuses it with charm and surprising poignancy.
Synopsis: After a wish turns 12-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) into a 30-year-old man (Tom Hanks), he heads to New York... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 103679%
Critics Consensus: A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh.
Synopsis: A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#17

Free Solo (2018)
97%

#17
Adjusted Score: 106087%
Critics Consensus: Free Solo depicts athletic feats that many viewers will find beyond reason - and grounds the attempts in passions that are all but universal.
Synopsis: Alex Honnold completes the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan's 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.... [More]

#16

The Incredibles (2004)
97%

#16
Adjusted Score: 106293%
Critics Consensus: Bringing loads of wit and tons of fun to the animated superhero genre, The Incredibles easily lives up to its name.
Synopsis: In this lauded Pixar animated film, married superheroes Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are forced to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#15

Coco (2017)
97%

#15
Adjusted Score: 123816%
Critics Consensus: Coco's rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly -- and deeply affecting -- approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death.
Synopsis: Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de... [More]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich

#14

Toy Story 4 (2019)
97%

#14
Adjusted Score: 124739%
Critics Consensus: Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending -- and perhaps concluding -- a practically perfect animated saga.
Synopsis: Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy... [More]
Directed By: Josh Cooley

#13

Dumbo (1941)
98%

#13
Adjusted Score: 102273%
Critics Consensus: Dumbo packs plenty of story into its brief runtime, along with all the warm animation and wonderful music you'd expect from a Disney classic.
Synopsis: A young circus elephant is born with comically large ears and given the cruel nickname Dumbo. One day at a... [More]
Directed By: Ben Sharpsteen

#12
Adjusted Score: 102963%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of pooches and a memorable villain (Cruella De Vil), this is one of Disney's most enduring, entertaining animated films.
Synopsis: In a Disney animation classic, Dalmatian Pongo is tired of his bachelor-dog life. He spies lovely Perdita and maneuvers his... [More]

#11

Mary Poppins (1964)
96%

#11
Adjusted Score: 100930%
Critics Consensus: A lavish modern fairy tale celebrated for its amazing special effects, catchy songs, and Julie Andrews's legendary performance in the title role.
Synopsis: When Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber), the children of the wealthy and uptight Banks family, are faced with... [More]
Directed By: Robert Stevenson

#10
Adjusted Score: 99232%
Critics Consensus: With its involving story and characters, vibrant art, and memorable songs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs set the animation standard for decades to come.
Synopsis: The Grimm fairy tale gets a Technicolor treatment in Disney's first animated feature. Jealous of Snow White's beauty, the wicked... [More]
Directed By: David Hand

#9

Jane (2017)
98%

#9
Adjusted Score: 103875%
Critics Consensus: Jane honors its subject's legacy with an absorbing, beautifully filmed, and overall enlightening look at her decades of invaluable work.
Synopsis: Jane Goodall, a young and untrained woman, challenges the male dominated scientific consensus of her time with her chimpanzee research... [More]
Starring: Jane Goodall
Directed By: Brett Morgen

#8

Hamilton (2020)
97%

#8
Adjusted Score: 110775%
Critics Consensus: Look around, look around at how beautifully Hamilton shines beyond Broadway - and at how marvelously Thomas Kail captures the stage show's infectious energy.
Synopsis: The original Broadway production of the award-winning musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, first secretary of the treasury,... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Kail

#7

Zootopia (2016)
98%

#7
Adjusted Score: 115816%
Critics Consensus: The brilliantly well-rounded Zootopia offers a thoughtful, inclusive message that's as rich and timely as its sumptuously state-of-the-art animation -- all while remaining fast and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained.
Synopsis: From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live... [More]
Directed By: Byron Howard, Rich Moore

#6

Toy Story 3 (2010)
98%

#6
Adjusted Score: 110116%
Critics Consensus: Deftly blending comedy, adventure, and honest emotion, Toy Story 3 is a rare second sequel that really works.
Synopsis: With their beloved Andy preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and... [More]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich

#5

Inside Out (2015)
98%

#5
Adjusted Score: 113968%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics.
Synopsis: Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#4

Finding Nemo (2003)
99%

#4
Adjusted Score: 108562%
Critics Consensus: Breathtakingly lovely and grounded by the stellar efforts of a well-chosen cast, Finding Nemo adds another beautifully crafted gem to Pixar's crown.
Synopsis: Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a foreshortened fin.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton

#3

Pinocchio (1940)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 106171%
Critics Consensus: Ambitious, adventurous, and sometimes frightening, Pinocchio arguably represents the pinnacle of Disney's collected works -- it's beautifully crafted and emotionally resonant.
Synopsis: When the woodworker Geppetto (Christian Rub) sees a falling star, he wishes that the puppet he just finished, Pinocchio (Dickie... [More]

#2

Toy Story (1995)
100%

#2
Adjusted Score: 106145%
Critics Consensus: Entertaining as it is innovative, Toy Story reinvigorated animation while heralding the arrival of Pixar as a family-friendly force to be reckoned with.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks), a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy (John Morris), sees his position... [More]
Directed By: John Lasseter

#1

Toy Story 2 (1999)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 107741%
Critics Consensus: The rare sequel that arguably improves on its predecessor, Toy Story 2 uses inventive storytelling, gorgeous animation, and a talented cast to deliver another rich moviegoing experience for all ages.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), leaving Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen)... [More]

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(Photo by Universal/ courtesy Everett Collection)

The 115 Best Black Movies of the 21st Century

Rotten Tomatoes is celebrating the work of Black filmmakers and performers and the stories they have brought to our theaters over the past 20-plus years. In this guide to the best-reviewed African American movies of the 21st Century – that’s from 2000 all the way to now – you’ll find some of the most incredible voices working in movies today, and some of the most game-changing, industry-shaking films to hit theaters in decades. Think titles like Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time at the U.S. box office. Or Gina Prince-Bythewood’s seminal star-making romance, Love and Basketball. Or Moonlight, which made history as the first film with an all-black cast to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2017. Or Ava DuVernay’s Selma, one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time.

Alongside the work of longtime industry veterans like Spike Lee, you’ll find incredible debut features, like Dee Rees’ Pariah, Justin Simien’s Dear White People, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, Phillip Youmens’ Burning Cane, which he directed while still in high school, and, of course, Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning social thriller Get Out and his follow-up, Us. You’ll also discover documentaries that have stirred the national conversation – DuVernay’s 13th, Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made In America – alongside recent mega hits that, like Black Panther, alerted Hollywood’s decision-makers to the fact that there was a huge audience for stories made by Black filmmakers, featuring Black actors, telling Black stories: Malcolm D. Lee’s Girls Trip, F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton.

To compile our list, we chose the top 100 Certified Fresh Black films, according to the Tomatometer, released in theaters since 2000. We defined Black films as those that centered on African American stories and African American characters, or – as in the case of Black Panther – were made by Black filmmakers and were embraced by African American audiences; there are instances of films here made by non-Black filmmakers (Django Unchained, Detroit, and Get On Up for example), but the top half of the list is dominated by Black writers and directors.

Finally, we ranked the movies using a weighted formula which takes into account each entry’s year of release and its number of reviews collected to weigh their Tomatometer ratings. And with 2020 releasing so many strong Certified Fresh contenders, expect plenty of movies from that year represented, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Bad Boys For Life, One Night in Miami, Da 5 Bloods, Soul and more.

Below is the result of all that compiling: our guide to the best Black films of the century (so far!). It’s chock full of laughs, thrills, tears, and insight. Enjoy, and if you want to tell us what you think of the list, think we’ve missed a title, or want to celebrate a film that didn’t quite meet the Certified Fresh criteria, let us know in the comments.

#115

Antwone Fisher (2002)
78%

#115
Adjusted Score: 82763%
Critics Consensus: Washington's directing debut is a solidly crafted, emotionally touching work.
Synopsis: The touching story of a sailor (Derek Luke) who, prone to violent outbursts, is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Denzel... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#114

Drumline (2002)
82%

#114
Adjusted Score: 84223%
Critics Consensus: Essentially a sports movie with drums, the energetic Drumline somehow manages to make the familiar seem fresh.
Synopsis: Set against the high-energy, high-stakes world of show-style marching bands, "Drumline" is a fish-out-of-water comedy about a talented street drummer... [More]
Directed By: Charles Stone

#113

Fast Color (2018)
80%

#113
Adjusted Score: 84712%
Critics Consensus: A grounded superhero story with more on its mind than punching bad guys, Fast Color leaps over uneven execution with a singular Gugu Mbatha-Raw performance.
Synopsis: Hunted by mysterious forces, a young woman who has supernatural abilities must go on the run when her powers are... [More]
Directed By: Julia Hart

#112

Black Dynamite (2009)
83%

#112
Adjusted Score: 83716%
Critics Consensus: A loving and meticulous send-up of 1970s blaxsploitation movies, Black Dynamite is funny enough for the frat house and clever enough for film buffs.
Synopsis: After "The Man" kills his brother and poisons the neighborhood with tainted liquor, a kung fu fighter (Michael Jai White)... [More]
Directed By: Scott Sanders

#111

Keanu (2016)
78%

#111
Adjusted Score: 88037%
Critics Consensus: Keanu's absurd premise and compulsively watchable starring duo add up to an agreeably fast-paced comedy that hits more than enough targets to make up for the misses.
Synopsis: Recently dumped by his girlfriend, slacker Rell (Jordan Peele) finds some happiness when a cute kitten winds up on his... [More]
Directed By: Peter Atencio

#110

Dreamgirls (2006)
78%

#110
Adjusted Score: 86908%
Critics Consensus: Dreamgirls' simple characters and plot hardly detract from the movie's real feats: the electrifying performances and the dazzling musical numbers.
Synopsis: Deena (Beyoncé Knowles),Effie (Jennifer Hudson) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) form a music trio called the Dreamettes. When ambitious manager... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#109
#109
Adjusted Score: 85791%
Critics Consensus: Languid and melancholy, George Washington is a carefully observed rumination on adolescence and rural life.
Synopsis: Set in the landscape of a rural southern town, "George Washington" is a stunning portrait of how a group of... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#108

Marshall (2017)
81%

#108
Adjusted Score: 90698%
Critics Consensus: Marshall takes an illuminating, well-acted look at its real-life subject's early career that also delivers as an entertainingly old-fashioned courtroom drama.
Synopsis: Young Thurgood Marshall faces one of his greatest challenges while working as a lawyer for the NAACP. Marshall travels to... [More]
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin

#107

Ray (2004)
79%

#107
Adjusted Score: 86557%
Critics Consensus: An engrossing and energetic portrait of a great musician's achievements and foibles, Ray is anchored by Jamie Foxx's stunning performance as Ray Charles.
Synopsis: Legendary soul musician Ray Charles is portrayed by Jamie Foxx in this Oscar-winning biopic. Young Ray watches his 7-year-old brother... [More]
Directed By: Taylor Hackford

#106
#106
Adjusted Score: 86387%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#105
Adjusted Score: 87142%
Critics Consensus: An innovative blend of samurai and gangster lifestyles.
Synopsis: Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) is a contract killer, a master of his trade who can whirl a gun at warp... [More]
Directed By: Jim Jarmusch

#104

Barbershop (2002)
83%

#104
Adjusted Score: 85777%
Critics Consensus: Besides bringing on the laughs, Barbershop displays a big heart and demonstrates the value of community.
Synopsis: A smart comedy about a day in the life of a barbershop on the south side of Chicago. Calvin (Ice... [More]
Directed By: Tim Story

#103

Get On Up (2014)
80%

#103
Adjusted Score: 87130%
Critics Consensus: With an unforgettable Chadwick Boseman in the starring role, Get On Up offers the Godfather of Soul a fittingly dynamic homage.
Synopsis: James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) was born in extreme poverty in 1933 South Carolina and survived abandonment, abuse and jail to... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#102

Rize (2005)
84%

#102
Adjusted Score: 86156%
Critics Consensus: The dances in Rize are electric even if the documentary doesn't go that deeply into the performers' lives.
Synopsis: Celebrated fashion photographer David LaChapelle makes his documentary filmmaking debut with a visually arresting film shot on the streets of... [More]
Starring: Tommy the Clown
Directed By: David LaChapelle

#101

Monsters and Men (2018)
84%

#101
Adjusted Score: 87253%
Critics Consensus: Well-acted and visually stylish, Monsters and Men tells its timely story with enough compassion and complexity to make up for occasionally uneven execution.
Synopsis: Tensions rise when a young man records a police officer shooting a black motorist in a Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood.... [More]
Directed By: Reinaldo Marcus Green

#100
#100
Adjusted Score: 85369%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to smart direction and a powerhouse performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights transcends its formulaic storyline to deliver thoroughly entertaining drama.
Synopsis: Though she's been groomed for stardom all her life by an overbearing mother (Minnie Driver), singer Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince-Bythewood

#99

Chi-Raq (2015)
82%

#99
Adjusted Score: 90976%
Critics Consensus: Chi-Raq is as urgently topical and satisfyingly ambitious as it is wildly uneven -- and it contains some of Spike Lee's smartest, sharpest, and all-around entertaining late-period work.
Synopsis: The girlfriend (Teyonah Parris) of a Chicago gang leader (Nick Cannon) persuades other frustrated women to abstain from sex until... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#98
Adjusted Score: 88855%
Critics Consensus: The Gospel According to André offers an engaging overview of its fascinating subject, even if his accomplishments -- and outsize personality -- prove too expansive for a single film.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kate Novack explores the life and career of fashion journalist André Leon Talley -- from his childhood in the... [More]
Directed By: Kate Novack

#97

Hustle & Flow (2005)
82%

#97
Adjusted Score: 88285%
Critics Consensus: Hustle & Flow is gritty and redemptive, with a profound sense of place and exciting music.
Synopsis: DJay (Terrence Howard) is a pimp living day to day on the tough streets of Memphis, Tennessee. Pushing 40, he's... [More]
Directed By: Craig Brewer

#96
#96
Adjusted Score: 89289%
Critics Consensus: American Gangster is a gritty and entertaining throwback to classic gangster films, with its lead performers firing on all cylinders.
Synopsis: Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) earns his living as a chauffeur to one of Harlem's leading mobsters. After his boss dies,... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#95

42 (2013)
81%

#95
Adjusted Score: 87776%
Critics Consensus: 42 is an earnest, inspirational, and respectfully told biography of an influential American sports icon, though it might be a little too safe and old-fashioned for some.
Synopsis: In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball's notorious color barrier by... [More]
Directed By: Brian Helgeland

#94

Monster's Ball (2001)
85%

#94
Adjusted Score: 90370%
Critics Consensus: Somber and thought provoking, Monster's Ball has great performances all around.
Synopsis: Hank, an embittered racist prison guard working on death row, begins an unlikely, emotionally charged sexual relationship with Leticia, a... [More]
Directed By: Marc Forster

#93
#93
Adjusted Score: 94672%
Critics Consensus: Loaded up with action and a double helping of leading-man charisma, Bad Boys for Life reinvigorates this long-dormant franchise by playing squarely to its strengths.
Synopsis: The wife and son of a Mexican drug lord embark on a vengeful quest to kill all those involved in... [More]

#92
#92
Adjusted Score: 89330%
Critics Consensus: Wise, compassionate, and beautifully acted, Middle of Nowhere offers an early testament to writer-director Ava DuVernay's startling talent.
Synopsis: A med student (Emayatzy Corinealdi) considers leaving her long-imprisoned husband (Omari Hardwick) for a charming bus driver (David Oyelowo).... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#91
#91
Adjusted Score: 90717%
Critics Consensus: A warm, family-friendly underdog story, featuring terrific supporting performances from Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne, and Angela Bassett.
Synopsis: Akeelah, an 11-year-old girl living in South Los Angeles, discovers she has a talent for spelling, which she hopes will... [More]
Directed By: Doug Atchison

#90
#90
Adjusted Score: 90763%
Critics Consensus: This group of high school girls and their eccentric basketball coach easily win your heart with their unusual humanity and dynamism.
Synopsis: Filmed over a period of seven years, director Ward Serrill profiles Bill Resler, a university professor who coaches a basketball... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ward Serrill

#89
Adjusted Score: 90392%
Critics Consensus: What Happened, Miss Simone? is a compelling -- albeit necessarily incomplete -- overview of its complex subject's singular artistic legacy and fascinating life.
Synopsis: Classically trained pianist, dive-bar chanteuse, black power icon and legendary recording artist Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty,... [More]
Directed By: Liz Garbus

#88
Adjusted Score: 91628%
Critics Consensus: This documentary focuses less on the music and more on the personality clashes and in-group tensions to great, compelling effect.
Synopsis: Actor Michael Rapaport examines the music of the 1990s hip-hop group as well as the conflicts that drove the band... [More]
Directed By: Michael Rapaport

#87
#87
Adjusted Score: 93148%
Critics Consensus: The warmth of traditional Disney animation makes this occasionally lightweight fairy-tale update a lively and captivating confection for the holidays.
Synopsis: Hardworking and ambitious, Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) dreams of one day opening the finest restaurant in New Orleans. Her dream... [More]
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

#86
Adjusted Score: 93642%
Critics Consensus: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey celebrates the yuletide season with a holiday adventure whose exuberant spirit is matched by its uplifting message.
Synopsis: Decades after his apprentice betrays him, a once joyful toymaker finds new hope when his bright young granddaughter appears on... [More]
Directed By: David E. Talbert

#85
#85
Adjusted Score: 93059%
Critics Consensus: Presenting Princess Shaw works as a uniquely uplifting look at internet stardom -- and a compelling glimpse of an artist whose gifts transcend the medium.
Synopsis: The extraordinary story of New Orleans singing sensation Princess Shaw and her collaborator Kutiman, a musician in Israel who uses... [More]
Directed By: Ido Haar

#84
#84
Adjusted Score: 93088%
Critics Consensus: A smart, well-acted, and refreshingly messy coming-of-age story, Selah and the Spades suggests a bright future for debuting writer-director Tayarisha Poe.
Synopsis: Five factions run the underground life of a prestigious east coast boarding school. The head of The Spades walks a... [More]
Directed By: Tayarisha Poe

#83

Our Song (2000)
91%

#83
Adjusted Score: 91437%
Critics Consensus: Graced with such a realistic feel that it resembles a documentary, Our Song is a sensitive portrayal of three teenage girls.
Synopsis: Follows three friends, Lanisha (Kerry Washington), Maria (Melissa Martinez) and Joycelyn (Anna Simpson), best friends and members of their school's... [More]
Directed By: Jim McKay

#82

Top Five (2014)
86%

#82
Adjusted Score: 92783%
Critics Consensus: As smart, funny, and trenchant as writer-director-star Chris Rock's best standup work, Top Five is a career highlight for its creator -- and one of the comedy standouts of 2014.
Synopsis: Though he began in stand-up comedy, Andre Allen (Chris Rock) hit the big-time as the star of a trilogy of... [More]
Directed By: Chris Rock

#81

Burning Cane (2019)
92%

#81
Adjusted Score: 93152%
Critics Consensus: Burning Cane is a compelling look at weighty themes -- and a remarkably assured debut from an impressively talented young filmmaker.
Synopsis: An aging mother who lives in cane fields of rural Louisiana, is torn between her religious convictions and the love... [More]
Directed By: Phillip Youmans

#80

Queen & Slim (2019)
83%

#80
Adjusted Score: 95697%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, provocative, and powerful, Queen & Slim tells a gripping fugitive story steeped in timely, thoughtful subtext.
Synopsis: Slim and Queen's first date takes an unexpected turn when a policeman pulls them over for a minor traffic violation.... [More]
Directed By: Melina Matsoukas

#79

Uncorked (2020)
91%

#79
Adjusted Score: 93413%
Critics Consensus: Like a good wine, once you let Uncorked breathe, its heartfelt tenderness will yield a sweet time.
Synopsis: A young man upsets his father when he pursues his dream of becoming a master sommelier instead of joining the... [More]
Directed By: Prentice Penny

#78
#78
Adjusted Score: 92591%
Critics Consensus: Miss Sharon Jones! only captures a portion of its subject's power -- or her inspiring story -- but that's more than enough to offer absorbing, entertaining viewing for fans and newcomers alike.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Barbara Kopple follows rhythm and blues singer Sharon Jones as she tries to hold her band together while battling... [More]
Starring: Sharon Jones
Directed By: Barbara Kopple

#77
#77
Adjusted Score: 93903%
Critics Consensus: Madeline's Madeline proves experimental cinema is alive and well -- and serves as a powerful calling card for Helena Howard in her big-screen debut.
Synopsis: Madeline has become an integral part of a prestigious physical theater troupe. When the workshop's ambitious director pushes the teenager... [More]
Directed By: Josephine Decker

#76
#76
Adjusted Score: 93302%
Critics Consensus: Not just a powerful telling of the journey of exiled Sudanese boys, God Grew Tired of Us is also a poignant account of the determination of the human spirit.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Christopher Quinn observes the ordeal of three Sudanese refugees -- Jon Bul Dau, Daniel Abul Pach and Panther Bior... [More]
Starring: Nicole Kidman
Directed By: Christopher Quinn

#75
Adjusted Score: 93283%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Swedish journalists document the black power movement in America.... [More]
Directed By: Göran Olsson

#74
#74
Adjusted Score: 95185%
Critics Consensus: Heartfelt, thought-provoking, and above all funny, Barbershop: The Next Cut is the rare belated sequel that more than lives up to the standard set by its predecessors.
Synopsis: To survive harsh economic times, Calvin and Angie have merged the barbershop and beauty salon into one business. The days... [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

#73

Inside Man (2006)
86%

#73
Adjusted Score: 94908%
Critics Consensus: Spike Lee's energetic and clever bank-heist thriller is a smart genre film that is not only rewarding on its own terms, but manages to subvert its pulpy trappings with wit and skill.
Synopsis: A tough detective (Denzel Washington) matches wits with a cunning bank robber (Clive Owen), as a tense hostage crisis is... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#72
Adjusted Score: 93523%
Critics Consensus: A toe-tapping tribute to the band that gave Motown its sound.
Synopsis: This documentary mixes performances, interviews and reenactments to celebrate the Funk Brothers, the 1960s soul hitmakers. As the musicians behind... [More]
Directed By: Paul Justman

#71

Premature (2019)
93%

#71
Adjusted Score: 95227%
Critics Consensus: Premature transcends its familiar trappings with sharp dialogue and a strong sense of setting that further establish Rashaad Ernesto Green as a gifted filmmaker.
Synopsis: On a summer night in Harlem during her last months at home before starting college, 17-year-old poet Ayanna begins a... [More]
Directed By: Rashaad Ernesto Green

#70
Adjusted Score: 93742%
Critics Consensus: Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantastical, emotionally powerful journey and a strong case of filmmaking that values imagination over money.
Synopsis: Six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in a remote Delta community. Wink is a stern... [More]
Directed By: Benh Zeitlin

#69

Baadasssss! (2003)
91%

#69
Adjusted Score: 93280%
Critics Consensus: An entertaining and intriguing tribute to a father from his son.
Synopsis: Director Mario Van Peebles chronicles the complicated production of his father Melvin's classic 1971 film, "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song." Playing... [More]
Directed By: Mario Van Peebles

#68
Adjusted Score: 95323%
Critics Consensus: The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution offers a fascinating -- if somewhat rudimentary -- introduction to a movement, and an era, that remains soberingly relevant today.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Stanley Nelson examines the rise of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and its impact on civil rights... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Nelson

#67
Adjusted Score: 93871%
Critics Consensus: Entertaining for longtime fans as well as casually interested viewers, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool burnishes the legacy of a brilliant artist.
Synopsis: An exploration of the musician's archival photos and home movies.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Stanley Nelson

#66
#66
Adjusted Score: 94448%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon examine a 1989 case of five teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of... [More]

#65

Waves (2019)
84%

#65
Adjusted Score: 99672%
Critics Consensus: An up-close look at one family's emotional ups and downs, Waves captures complicated dynamics with tenderness and grace.
Synopsis: The epic emotional journey of a suburban African American family as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the... [More]
Directed By: Trey Edward Shults

#64

Whitney (2018)
88%

#64
Adjusted Score: 96537%
Critics Consensus: Whitney shifts from soaring highs to heartbreaking lows with palpable emotion and grace befitting its singular subject.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kevin Macdonald examines the life and career of singer Whitney Houston. Features never-before-seen archival footage, exclusive recordings, rare performances... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#63

Dope (2015)
88%

#63
Adjusted Score: 94208%
Critics Consensus: Featuring a starmaking performance from Shameik Moore and a refreshingly original point of view from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa, Dope is smart, insightful entertainment.
Synopsis: High-school senior Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) bond over '90s hip-hop culture,... [More]
Directed By: Rick Famuyiwa

#62

Detroit (2017)
82%

#62
Adjusted Score: 104866%
Critics Consensus: Detroit delivers a gut-wrenching -- and essential -- dramatization of a tragic chapter from America's past that draws distressing parallels to the present.
Synopsis: In the summer of 1967, rioting and civil unrest starts to tear apart the city of Detroit. Two days later,... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 96052%
Critics Consensus: Dear White People adds a welcome new voice to cinema's oft-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty, and gratifyingly sharp wit.
Synopsis: A campus culture war between blacks and whites at a predominantly white school comes to a head when the staff... [More]
Directed By: Justin Simien

#60
Adjusted Score: 97097%
Critics Consensus: Dave Chappelle's Block Party is a raucous return to the spotlight for the comic, buoyed by witty, infectious humor and outstanding musical performances.
Synopsis: Actor, writer and comic Dave Chappelle loads up a bus with residents of his Ohio hometown and takes them to... [More]
Starring: Dave Chappelle
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#59

Creed II (2018)
83%

#59
Adjusted Score: 101853%
Critics Consensus: Creed II's adherence to franchise formula adds up to a sequel with few true surprises, but its time-tested generational themes still pack a solid punch.
Synopsis: In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Caple Jr.

#58

Sylvie's Love (2020)
93%

#58
Adjusted Score: 100131%
Critics Consensus: A romance for the ages, Sylvie's Love wraps audiences in the sweet embrace of its old-fashioned romance and celebration of Black love.
Synopsis: In Sylvie’s Love, the jazz is smooth and the air sultry in the hot New York summer of 1957. Robert... [More]
Directed By: Eugene Ashe

#57

Luce (2019)
90%

#57
Adjusted Score: 99635%
Critics Consensus: Luce brings a stellar ensemble to bear on a satisfyingly complex story that addresses its timely themes in thought-provoking fashion.
Synopsis: A liberal-minded couple are forced to reconsider their image of their adopted son after he writes a disturbing essay for... [More]
Directed By: Julius Onah

#56

Black Is King (2020)
94%

#56
Adjusted Score: 96825%
Critics Consensus: Beyoncé is King.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: Beyoncé
Directed By: Beyoncé

#55

Good Hair (2009)
95%

#55
Adjusted Score: 97566%
Critics Consensus: Funny, informative, and occasionally sad, Good Hair is a provocative look at the complex relationship between African Americans and their hair.
Synopsis: Prompted by a question from his young daughter, comic Chris Rock sets out to explore the importance of hair in... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Stilson

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 100023%
Critics Consensus: Support the Girls handles serious themes with wit and humor, and provides a strong showcase for Regina Hall and a talented ensemble cast.
Synopsis: Lisa is the general manager of Double Whammies, a sports bar that features skimpily dressed waitresses. Always nurturing and protective... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Bujalski

#53

Just Mercy (2019)
85%

#53
Adjusted Score: 105705%
Critics Consensus: Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, a steady directorial hand, and enough urgency to overcome a certain degree of earnest advocacy.
Synopsis: After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation.... [More]
Directed By: Destin Daniel Cretton

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 106179%
Critics Consensus: It Comes at Night makes lethally effective use of its bare-bones trappings while proving once again that what's left unseen can be just as horrifying as anything on the screen.
Synopsis: After a mysterious apocalypse leaves the world with few survivors, two families are forced to share a home in an... [More]
Directed By: Trey Edward Shults

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 100775%
Critics Consensus: Southside With You looks back on a fateful real-life date with strong performances and engaging dialogue, adding up to a romance that makes for a pretty good date movie in its own right.
Synopsis: Future U.S. President Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) and lawyer Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) go on a fateful first date in... [More]
Directed By: Richard Tanne

#50

Clemency (2019)
91%

#50
Adjusted Score: 99978%
Critics Consensus: Clemency mines serious social issues for gripping drama, brought to life by an outstanding cast led by Alfre Woodard.
Synopsis: Years of carrying out death row executions are taking a toll on Warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares for another... [More]
Directed By: Chinonye Chukwu

#49

Girls Trip (2017)
92%

#49
Adjusted Score: 103896%
Critics Consensus: Girls Trip is the rare R-rated comedy that pushes boundaries to truly comedic effect -- and anchors its laughs in compelling characters brought to life by a brilliantly assembled cast.
Synopsis: Best friends Ryan, Sasha, Lisa and Dina are in for the adventure of a lifetime when they travel to New... [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

#48

Django Unchained (2012)
86%

#48
Adjusted Score: 98844%
Critics Consensus: Bold, bloody, and stylistically daring, Django Unchained is another incendiary masterpiece from Quentin Tarantino.
Synopsis: Two years before the Civil War, Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave, finds himself accompanying an unorthodox German bounty hunter named... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#47

Pariah (2011)
95%

#47
Adjusted Score: 99745%
Critics Consensus: Pulsing with authenticity and led by a stirring lead performance from Adepero Oduye, Pariah is a powerful coming out/coming-of-age film that signals the arrival of a fresh new talent in writer/director Dee Rees.
Synopsis: Teenage Alike (Adepero Oduye) lives in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood with her parents (Charles Parnell, Kim Wayans) and younger sister... [More]
Directed By: Dee Rees

#46
#46
Adjusted Score: 98272%
Critics Consensus: It's far more conventional than the life it honors, but John Lewis: Good Trouble remains a worthy tribute to an inspiring activist and public servant.
Synopsis: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) fights for civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health care reform and immigration.... [More]
Starring: John Lewis
Directed By: Dawn Porter

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 98072%
Critics Consensus: Straight Outta Compton is a biopic that's built to last, thanks to F. Gary Gray's confident direction and engaging performances from a solid cast.
Synopsis: In 1988, a groundbreaking new group revolutionizes music and pop culture, changing and influencing hip-hop forever. N.W.A's first studio album,... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 97928%
Critics Consensus: Offering keen observations and infectious warmth, Keep On Keepin' On is a joy for jazz buffs and novices alike.
Synopsis: Legendary jazz musician Clark Terry, who taught Quincy Jones and mentored Miles Davis, becomes the mentor of a blind 23-year-old... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Alan Hicks

#43
Adjusted Score: 100433%
Critics Consensus: Intimate in scope yet thematically expansive, Hale County This Morning, This Evening draws extraordinary insights out of seemingly ordinary moments.
Synopsis: Filmmaker RaMell Ross captures small, but nevertheless precious, moments in black lives.... [More]
Starring: RaMell Ross
Directed By: RaMell Ross

#42

Night Comes On (2018)
98%

#42
Adjusted Score: 100533%
Critics Consensus: Steadily drawing viewers into its harrowing tale with equal parts grim intensity and startling compassion, Night Comes On heralds the arrivals of debuting director Jordan Spiro and her magnetic young stars.
Synopsis: Released from juvenile detention, a teen and her 10-year-old sister embark on a quest to avenge the death of their... [More]
Directed By: Jordana Spiro

#41

Loving (2016)
88%

#41
Adjusted Score: 106616%
Critics Consensus: Loving takes an understated approach to telling a painful -- and still relevant -- real-life tale, with sensitive performances breathing additional life into a superlative historical drama.
Synopsis: Interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving fell in love and were married in 1958. They grew up in Central Point,... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Nichols

#40

Step (2017)
96%

#40
Adjusted Score: 103086%
Critics Consensus: Step tells an irresistibly crowd-pleasing story in a thoroughly absorbing way -- and while smartly incorporating a variety of timely themes.
Synopsis: The senior year of a girls' high school step team in inner-city Baltimore is documented, as they try to become... [More]
Starring: Blessin Giraldo
Directed By: Amanda Lipitz

#39
Adjusted Score: 100832%
Critics Consensus: Precious is a grim yet ultimately triumphant film about abuse and inner-city life, largely bolstered by exceptional performances from its cast.
Synopsis: Pregnant by her own father for the second time, 16-year-old Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) can neither read nor write... [More]
Directed By: Lee Daniels

#38

Farewell Amor (2020)
97%

#38
Adjusted Score: 101268%
Critics Consensus: A striking debut feature for writer-director Ekwa Msangi, Farewell Amor movingly captures the fallout from a long-separated family's reunion.
Synopsis: After 17 years apart, Angolan immigrant Walter is joined in the U.S. by his wife and teen daughter. Now absolute... [More]
Directed By: Ekwa Msangi

#37

13TH (2016)
97%

#37
Adjusted Score: 104636%
Critics Consensus: 13th strikes at the heart of America's tangled racial history, offering observations as incendiary as they are calmly controlled.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation's... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#36
Adjusted Score: 104591%
Critics Consensus: An affecting story powerfully told, The Last Black Man in San Francisco immediately establishes director Joe Talbot as a filmmaker to watch.
Synopsis: Jimmie and his best friend Mont try to reclaim the house built by Jimmie's grandfather, launching them on a poignant... [More]
Directed By: Joe Talbot

#35
Adjusted Score: 102697%
Critics Consensus: Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am honors its acclaimed subject with a comprehensive, illuminating, and fittingly profound overview of her life and work.
Synopsis: Author Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, history, America and... [More]

#34

Whose Streets? (2017)
98%

#34
Adjusted Score: 102830%
Critics Consensus: Whose Streets? takes a close-up look at the civil unrest that erupted after a shocking act of violence in Ferguson, Missouri - and the decades of simmering tension leading up to it.
Synopsis: An account of the Ferguson uprising as told by the people who lived it. The filmmakers look at how the... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Sabaah Folayan

#33

Blindspotting (2018)
94%

#33
Adjusted Score: 104307%
Critics Consensus: As timely as it is overall impactful, Blindspotting blends buddy comedy with seething social commentary, and rises on the strength of Daveed Diggs' powerful performance.
Synopsis: Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his... [More]
Directed By: Carlos López Estrada

#32

Strong Island (2017)
100%

#32
Adjusted Score: 102772%
Critics Consensus: Strong Island uses one family's heartbreaking tragedy to offer a sobering picture of racial injustice in modern America.
Synopsis: When filmmaker Yance Ford investigates the 1992 murder of a young black man, it becomes an achingly personal journey since... [More]
Directed By: Yance Ford

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 102525%
Critics Consensus: O.J.: Made in America paints a balanced and thorough portrait of the American dream juxtaposed with tragedy and executed with power and skill.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: O.J. Simpson
Directed By: Ezra Edelman

#30

Tangerine (2015)
96%

#30
Adjusted Score: 102208%
Critics Consensus: Tangerine shatters casting conventions and its filmmaking techniques are up-to-the-minute, but it's an old-fashioned comedy at heart -- and a pretty wonderful one at that.
Synopsis: After hearing that her boyfriend/pimp cheated on her while she was in jail, a hooker and her best friend set... [More]
Directed By: Sean Baker

#29
Adjusted Score: 103900%
Critics Consensus: All In: The Fight for Democracy lives up to its title as a galvanizing rallying cry for voters to exercise -- and preserve -- their right to be heard.
Synopsis: Filmmakers Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes examine the history of voter suppression and the activists who fight for the rights... [More]
Starring: Stacey Abrams
Directed By: Lisa Cortes, Liz Garbus

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 101626%
Critics Consensus: Passionate and powerfully acted, Fruitvale Station serves as a celebration of life, a condemnation of death, and a triumph for star Michael B. Jordan.
Synopsis: Though he once spent time in San Quentin, 22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#27

Time (2020)
98%

#27
Adjusted Score: 105201%
Critics Consensus: Time delivers a powerful broadside against the flaws of the American justice system -- and chronicles one family's refusal to give up against all odds.
Synopsis: Entrepreneur Fox Rich spends the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob G. Rich, who is... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Garrett Bradley

#26

Fences (2016)
92%

#26
Adjusted Score: 107956%
Critics Consensus: From its reunited Broadway stars to its screenplay, the solidly crafted Fences finds its Pulitzer-winning source material fundamentally unchanged -- and still just as powerful.
Synopsis: Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) makes his living as a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh. Maxson once dreamed of becoming a... [More]
Directed By: Denzel Washington

#25
Adjusted Score: 106725%
Critics Consensus: The Forty-Year-Old Version opens a compelling window into the ebbs and flows of the artist's life -- and announces writer-director-star Radha Blank as a major filmmaking talent with her feature debut.
Synopsis: A struggling New York City playwright finds inspiration by reinventing herself as a rapper.... [More]
Directed By: Radha Blank

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 104012%
Critics Consensus: Rich, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking, 20 Feet From Stardom is an energetic tribute to the passion, talent, and hard work of backup singers.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Morgan Neville shines a long-overdue spotlight on the hit-making contributions of longtime backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry... [More]
Directed By: Morgan Neville

#23

Miss Juneteenth (2020)
99%

#23
Adjusted Score: 108690%
Critics Consensus: Like a pageant winner walking across the stage, Miss Juneteenth follows a familiar path -- but does so with charm and grace.
Synopsis: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.... [More]

#22

Mudbound (2017)
97%

#22
Adjusted Score: 111703%
Critics Consensus: Mudbound offers a well-acted, finely detailed snapshot of American history whose scenes of rural class struggle resonate far beyond their period setting.
Synopsis: Set in the rural American South during World War II, Dee Rees' Mudbound is an epic story of two families... [More]
Directed By: Dee Rees

#21

Da 5 Bloods (2020)
92%

#21
Adjusted Score: 112556%
Critics Consensus: Fierce energy and ambition course through Da 5 Bloods, coming together to fuel one of Spike Lee's most urgent and impactful films.
Synopsis: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#20

Amazing Grace (2018)
99%

#20
Adjusted Score: 108279%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly capturing a remarkable performer near the peak of her prodigious power, Amazing Grace is a thrilling must-watch documentary for Aretha Franklin fans.
Synopsis: Singer Aretha Franklin performs gospel songs at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972.... [More]
Starring: Aretha Franklin
Directed By: Alan Elliott

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 111982%
Critics Consensus: Fearlessly ambitious, scathingly funny, and thoroughly original, Sorry to Bother You loudly heralds the arrival of a fresh filmmaking talent in writer-director Boots Riley.
Synopsis: In an alternate reality of present-day Oakland, Calif., telemarketer Cassius Green finds himself in a macabre universe after he discovers... [More]
Directed By: Boots Riley

#18

The Hate U Give (2018)
97%

#18
Adjusted Score: 109456%
Critics Consensus: Led by a breakout turn from Amandla Stenberg, the hard-hitting The Hate U Give emphatically proves the YA genre has room for much more than magic and romance.
Synopsis: Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds -- the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy,... [More]
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.

#17

Hidden Figures (2016)
93%

#17
Adjusted Score: 117280%
Critics Consensus: In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Synopsis: Three brilliant African American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- serve as the brains... [More]
Directed By: Theodore Melfi

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 110298%
Critics Consensus: In dramatizing Rudy Ray Moore's stranger-than-fiction story, Eddie Murphy makes Dolemite Is My Name just as bold, brash, and ultimately hard to resist as its subject.
Synopsis: Performer Rudy Ray Moore develops an outrageous character named Dolemite, who becomes an underground sensation and star of a kung-fu,... [More]
Directed By: Craig Brewer

#15

Creed (2015)
95%

#15
Adjusted Score: 106968%
Critics Consensus: Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.
Synopsis: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born.... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 113487%
Critics Consensus: I Am Not Your Negro offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin's crucial observations on American race relations -- and a sobering reminder of how far we've yet to go.
Synopsis: In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, "Remember This House." The book... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Peck

#13

Widows (2018)
91%

#13
Adjusted Score: 116986%
Critics Consensus: Widows rounds up a stellar ensemble for a heist thriller that mixes popcorn entertainment with a message - and marks another artistic leap for director Steve McQueen.
Synopsis: A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows -- Veronica, Linda,... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#12

Soul (2020)
95%

#12
Adjusted Score: 119524%
Critics Consensus: A film as beautiful to contemplate as it is to behold, Soul proves Pixar's power to deliver outstanding all-ages entertainment remains undimmed.
Synopsis: Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn't quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 118344%
Critics Consensus: Framed by a pair of powerhouse performances, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom pays affectionate tribute to a blues legend -- and Black culture at large.
Synopsis: Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians... [More]
Directed By: George C. Wolfe

#10

12 Years a Slave (2013)
95%

#10
Adjusted Score: 110567%
Critics Consensus: It's far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slave's unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant -- and quite possibly essential -- cinema.
Synopsis: In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#9
Adjusted Score: 116323%
Critics Consensus: If Beale Street Could Talk honors its source material with a beautifully filmed adaptation that finds director Barry Jenkins further strengthening his visual and narrative craft.
Synopsis: In early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and... [More]
Directed By: Barry Jenkins

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 116705%
Critics Consensus: A hauntingly powerful reflection on larger-than-life figures, One Night in Miami finds Regina King in command of her craft in her feature directorial debut.
Synopsis: On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest... [More]
Directed By: Regina King

#7

Selma (2014)
99%

#7
Adjusted Score: 111031%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by a gripping performance from David Oyelowo, Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.
Synopsis: Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#6

Moonlight (2016)
98%

#6
Adjusted Score: 123133%
Critics Consensus: Moonlight uses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.
Synopsis: A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His... [More]
Directed By: Barry Jenkins

#5
Adjusted Score: 121248%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse matches bold storytelling with striking animation for a purely enjoyable adventure with heart, humor, and plenty of superhero action.
Synopsis: Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into... [More]

#4

Get Out (2017)
98%

#4
Adjusted Score: 128249%
Critics Consensus: Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

#3

BlacKkKlansman (2018)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 122720%
Critics Consensus: BlacKkKlansman uses history to offer bitingly trenchant commentary on current events -- and brings out some of Spike Lee's hardest-hitting work in decades along the way.
Synopsis: Ron Stallworth is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#2

Us (2019)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 127302%
Critics Consensus: With Jordan Peele's second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.
Synopsis: Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

#1

Black Panther (2018)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 128729%
Critics Consensus: Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU's most absorbing stories -- and introducing some of its most fully realized characters.
Synopsis: After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

Malcolm X

(Photo by Warner Bros. Thumbnail image: A24, Disney/courtesy Everett Collection)

110 Important Films About the Black Experience

By Shawn Edwards, Co-Founder, African American Film Critics Association

Cinema can be a powerful tool for education. Back in February, for Black History Month, Rotten Tomatoes’ sister site Fandango reached out to members of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) to curate a list of 100 important films about the Black experience.

In the spirit of creating a dialogue, Rotten Tomatoes is republishing Fandango’s list, which has been updated by AAFCA members with an additional 10 titles like George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give and Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. We also arranged the movies in descending chronological order, starting with newer films like 2019’s Just Mercy with Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan and finishing with Oscar Micheaux’s ground-breaking 1919 movie, The Homesteader.

This list was designed by AAFCA members as a resource guide to connect movie watchers with more-relevant-than-ever classics like Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing or powerful documentaries like the Oscar-nominated James Baldwin doc, I Am Not Your Negro. To find out more about the African American Film Critics Association, visit www.aafca.com  and follow @theaafca on Twitter.

Recommended: The 100 Best Black Movies of the 21st Century
Recommended: 9 Pioneering Black Filmmakers from the Earliest Days of Cinema

#110

Just Mercy (2019)
85%

#110
Adjusted Score: 105705%
Critics Consensus: Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, a steady directorial hand, and enough urgency to overcome a certain degree of earnest advocacy.
Synopsis: After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation.... [More]
Directed By: Destin Daniel Cretton

#109

Queen & Slim (2019)
83%

#109
Adjusted Score: 95697%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, provocative, and powerful, Queen & Slim tells a gripping fugitive story steeped in timely, thoughtful subtext.
Synopsis: Slim and Queen's first date takes an unexpected turn when a policeman pulls them over for a minor traffic violation.... [More]
Directed By: Melina Matsoukas

#108

Waves (2019)
84%

#108
Adjusted Score: 99672%
Critics Consensus: An up-close look at one family's emotional ups and downs, Waves captures complicated dynamics with tenderness and grace.
Synopsis: The epic emotional journey of a suburban African American family as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the... [More]
Directed By: Trey Edward Shults

#107
Adjusted Score: 102697%
Critics Consensus: Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am honors its acclaimed subject with a comprehensive, illuminating, and fittingly profound overview of her life and work.
Synopsis: Author Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, history, America and... [More]

#103
#103
Adjusted Score: 116323%
Critics Consensus: If Beale Street Could Talk honors its source material with a beautifully filmed adaptation that finds director Barry Jenkins further strengthening his visual and narrative craft.
Synopsis: In early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and... [More]
Directed By: Barry Jenkins

#106

Black Panther (2018)
96%

#106
Adjusted Score: 128729%
Critics Consensus: Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU's most absorbing stories -- and introducing some of its most fully realized characters.
Synopsis: After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#105

BlacKkKlansman (2018)
96%

#105
Adjusted Score: 122720%
Critics Consensus: BlacKkKlansman uses history to offer bitingly trenchant commentary on current events -- and brings out some of Spike Lee's hardest-hitting work in decades along the way.
Synopsis: Ron Stallworth is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#104

The Hate U Give (2018)
97%

#104
Adjusted Score: 109456%
Critics Consensus: Led by a breakout turn from Amandla Stenberg, the hard-hitting The Hate U Give emphatically proves the YA genre has room for much more than magic and romance.
Synopsis: Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds -- the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy,... [More]
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.

#101

Get Out (2017)
98%

#101
Adjusted Score: 128249%
Critics Consensus: Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

#99

Hidden Figures (2016)
93%

#99
Adjusted Score: 117280%
Critics Consensus: In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Synopsis: Three brilliant African American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- serve as the brains... [More]
Directed By: Theodore Melfi

#98
#98
Adjusted Score: 113487%
Critics Consensus: I Am Not Your Negro offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin's crucial observations on American race relations -- and a sobering reminder of how far we've yet to go.
Synopsis: In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, "Remember This House." The book... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Peck

#100

13TH (2016)
97%

#100
Adjusted Score: 104636%
Critics Consensus: 13th strikes at the heart of America's tangled racial history, offering observations as incendiary as they are calmly controlled.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation's... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#97

Moonlight (2016)
98%

#97
Adjusted Score: 123133%
Critics Consensus: Moonlight uses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.
Synopsis: A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His... [More]
Directed By: Barry Jenkins

#96
#96
Adjusted Score: 102525%
Critics Consensus: O.J.: Made in America paints a balanced and thorough portrait of the American dream juxtaposed with tragedy and executed with power and skill.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Starring: O.J. Simpson
Directed By: Ezra Edelman

#95
#95
Adjusted Score: 98072%
Critics Consensus: Straight Outta Compton is a biopic that's built to last, thanks to F. Gary Gray's confident direction and engaging performances from a solid cast.
Synopsis: In 1988, a groundbreaking new group revolutionizes music and pop culture, changing and influencing hip-hop forever. N.W.A's first studio album,... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#94

Selma (2014)
99%

#94
Adjusted Score: 111031%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by a gripping performance from David Oyelowo, Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.
Synopsis: Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it... [More]
Directed By: Ava DuVernay

#102
#102
Adjusted Score: 96052%
Critics Consensus: Dear White People adds a welcome new voice to cinema's oft-neglected discussion of race, tackling its timely themes with intelligence, honesty, and gratifyingly sharp wit.
Synopsis: A campus culture war between blacks and whites at a predominantly white school comes to a head when the staff... [More]
Directed By: Justin Simien

#93

12 Years a Slave (2013)
95%

#93
Adjusted Score: 110567%
Critics Consensus: It's far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slave's unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant -- and quite possibly essential -- cinema.
Synopsis: In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#92
#92
Adjusted Score: 101626%
Critics Consensus: Passionate and powerfully acted, Fruitvale Station serves as a celebration of life, a condemnation of death, and a triumph for star Michael B. Jordan.
Synopsis: Though he once spent time in San Quentin, 22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#91
Adjusted Score: 100832%
Critics Consensus: Precious is a grim yet ultimately triumphant film about abuse and inner-city life, largely bolstered by exceptional performances from its cast.
Synopsis: Pregnant by her own father for the second time, 16-year-old Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) can neither read nor write... [More]
Directed By: Lee Daniels

#90
#90
Adjusted Score: 93148%
Critics Consensus: The warmth of traditional Disney animation makes this occasionally lightweight fairy-tale update a lively and captivating confection for the holidays.
Synopsis: Hardworking and ambitious, Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) dreams of one day opening the finest restaurant in New Orleans. Her dream... [More]
Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker

#89

Dreamgirls (2006)
78%

#89
Adjusted Score: 86908%
Critics Consensus: Dreamgirls' simple characters and plot hardly detract from the movie's real feats: the electrifying performances and the dazzling musical numbers.
Synopsis: Deena (Beyoncé Knowles),Effie (Jennifer Hudson) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) form a music trio called the Dreamettes. When ambitious manager... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#88
Adjusted Score: 94667%
Critics Consensus: When the Levees Broke offers a heart-rending elegy for an American city overflowing with culture, beset by natural disaster, and betrayed by institutional indifference.
Synopsis: Spike Lee documents life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city's anti-flooding safeguards in 2005. In the film,... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#87

Tsotsi (2005)
82%

#87
Adjusted Score: 87240%
Critics Consensus: Chweneyagae's powerful performance carries this simple yet searing tale of a shantytown teenager's redemption.
Synopsis: A South African hoodlum named Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae) lives by a code of violence, and he and his gang of... [More]
Directed By: Gavin Hood

#86

Hotel Rwanda (2004)
91%

#86
Adjusted Score: 97020%
Critics Consensus: A sobering and heartfelt tale about massacre that took place in Rwanda while most of the world looked away.
Synopsis: Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a Hutu, manages the Hôtel des Mille Collines and lives a happy life with his Tutsi... [More]
Directed By: Terry George

#85

Ray (2004)
79%

#85
Adjusted Score: 86557%
Critics Consensus: An engrossing and energetic portrait of a great musician's achievements and foibles, Ray is anchored by Jamie Foxx's stunning performance as Ray Charles.
Synopsis: Legendary soul musician Ray Charles is portrayed by Jamie Foxx in this Oscar-winning biopic. Young Ray watches his 7-year-old brother... [More]
Directed By: Taylor Hackford

#84

City of God (2002)
91%

#84
Adjusted Score: 95440%
Critics Consensus: City of God offers a shocking and disturbing -- but always compelling -- look at life in the slums of Rio de Janiero.
Synopsis: In the poverty-stricken favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the 1970s, two young men choose different paths. Rocket (Phellipe Haagensen)... [More]
Directed By: Fernando Meirelles

#83

Bamboozled (2000)
53%

#83
Adjusted Score: 55697%
Critics Consensus: Bamboozled is too heavy-handed in its satire and comes across as more messy and overwrought than biting.
Synopsis: A blistering satire of network television's pitfalls and prejudices, a humorous look at how race, ratings and the pursuit of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#82
#82
Adjusted Score: 86387%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#81
Adjusted Score: 21139%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, this film chronicles the life of Dorothy Dandridge, the first black woman to be nominated... [More]
Directed By: Martha Coolidge

#80

Blade (1998)
57%

#80
Adjusted Score: 62984%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find the plot a bit lacking, Blade's action is fierce, plentiful, and appropriately stylish for a comic book adaptation.
Synopsis: A half-mortal, half-immortal is out to avenge his mother's death and rid the world of vampires. The modern-day technologically advanced... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

#78

Love Jones (1997)
73%

#78
Adjusted Score: 73122%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two urban African-Americans, Darius (Larenz Tate), an aspiring writer, and Nina (Nia Long), an aspiring photographer, share an instant connection... [More]
Directed By: Theodore Witcher

#77

Rosewood (1997)
87%

#77
Adjusted Score: 90105%
Critics Consensus: In some respects, Rosewood struggles to present a full picture of the real-life tragedy it dramatizes, but it remains a harrowing depiction of racial violence.
Synopsis: Rosewood, Florida, is a small, peaceful town with an almost entirely African-American population of middle-class homeowners, until New Year's Day... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton

#76

Soul Food (1997)
81%

#76
Adjusted Score: 82140%
Critics Consensus: Much like the titular cuisine, Soul Food blends a series of savory ingredients to offer warm, generous helpings of nourishment and comfort.
Synopsis: When Ahmad Simmons' (Brandon Hammond) diabetic grandmother, Josephine "Big Mama" Joseph (Irma P. Hall), falls into a coma during an... [More]
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.

#79

Eve's Bayou (1997)
82%

#79
Adjusted Score: 85261%
Critics Consensus: Eve's Bayou marks a striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, layering terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness.
Synopsis: Over the course of a long, hot Louisiana summer, a 10-year-old black girl, Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), discovers that her... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons

#75

Set It Off (1996)
70%

#75
Adjusted Score: 71149%
Critics Consensus: It may not boast an original plot, but Set It Off is a satisfying, socially conscious heist film thanks largely to fine performances from its leads.
Synopsis: After being fired from her job as a bank teller, Frankie (Vivica A. Fox) begins working at a janitorial service... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#74
#74
Adjusted Score: 99508%
Critics Consensus: An engrossing documentary that's as much about a time and a place as it is about a fight.
Synopsis: On October 30, 1974, perhaps the most famous heavyweight championship boxing match of all time took place in Kinshasa, Zaire:... [More]
Directed By: Leon Gast

#70

Hate (1995)
100%

#70
Adjusted Score: 101564%
Critics Consensus: Hard-hitting and breathtakingly effective, La Haine takes an uncompromising look at long-festering social and economic divisions affecting 1990s Paris.
Synopsis: When a young Arab is arrested and beaten unconscious by police, a riot erupts in the notoriously violent suburbs outside... [More]
Directed By: Mathieu Kassovitz

#73
#73
Adjusted Score: 99009%
Critics Consensus: Humor, interesting characters, and attention to details make the stylish Devil in a Blue Dress an above average noir.
Synopsis: In late 1940s Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) is an unemployed black World War II veteran with few job... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#72

Friday (1995)
78%

#72
Adjusted Score: 78097%
Critics Consensus: What Friday might lack in taut construction or directorial flair, it more than makes up with its vibrant (albeit consistently crass) humor and the charming, energetic performances of its leads.
Synopsis: It's Friday and Craig Jones (Ice Cube) has just gotten fired for stealing cardboard boxes. To make matters worse, rent... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#69
#69
Adjusted Score: 61330%
Critics Consensus: Waiting to Exhale looks at life's ups and downs from an underseen perspective -- albeit one that's poorly served by uneven acting and a sporadically interesting story.
Synopsis: Navigating through careers, family and romance, four friends bond over the shortcomings in their love lives -- namely, the scarcity... [More]
Directed By: Forest Whitaker

#71

Hoop Dreams (1994)
98%

#71
Adjusted Score: 101752%
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#68
#68
Adjusted Score: 87361%
Critics Consensus: Told with grit and verve by the Hughes brothers in their feature debut, Menace II Society is a gangland epic that breathes with authenticity while steeped in style.
Synopsis: After growing up in the gang lifestyle of the Los Angeles projects, 18-year-old Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner) wants a way... [More]

#67

Sankofa (1993)
93%

#67
Adjusted Score: 92357%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: SANKOFA follows Mona (Oyafunmike Ogunlano), a Black American fashion model on a photo shoot in Cape Coast, Ghana. Through Mr.... [More]
Directed By: Haile Gerima

#66
Adjusted Score: 100620%
Critics Consensus: With a fascinating real-life story and powerhouse performances from Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, What's Love Got to Do With It? is a can't miss biopic.
Synopsis: Based on the life of the legendary soul singer, Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) -- born Anna Mae Bullock -- discovers... [More]
Directed By: Brian Gibson

#65

Juice (1992)
79%

#65
Adjusted Score: 80809%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Four Harlem friends -- Bishop (Tupac Shakur), Q (Omar Epps), Steel (Jermaine Hopkins) and Raheem (Khalil Kain) -- dabble in... [More]
Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

#64

Malcolm X (1992)
89%

#64
Adjusted Score: 93103%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by a powerful performance from Denzel Washington, Spike Lee's biopic of legendary civil rights leader Malcolm X brings his autobiography to life with an epic sweep and a nuanced message.
Synopsis: A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#63

A Rage in Harlem (1991)
65%

#63
Adjusted Score: 66044%
Critics Consensus: If it can't quite live up to its source material, A Rage in Harlem still proves a stylishly effective period thriller.
Synopsis: After her gangster boyfriend, Slim (Badja Djola), has a shootout with the police, Imabelle (Robin Givens) flees Natchez, Miss., with... [More]
Directed By: Bill Duke

#62

Boyz N the Hood (1991)
96%

#62
Adjusted Score: 100268%
Critics Consensus: Well-acted and thematically rich, Boyz N the Hood observes Black America with far more depth and compassion than many of the like-minded films its success inspired.
Synopsis: Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is sent to live with his father, Furious Styles (Larry Fishburne), in tough South Central Los... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 98894%
Critics Consensus: Daughters of the Dust addresses its weighty themes with lovely visuals and a light, poetic touch, offering an original, absorbing look at a largely unexplored corner of American culture.
Synopsis: At the dawn of the 20th century, a family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina -- former West... [More]
Directed By: Julie Dash

#60
#60
Adjusted Score: 38612%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Coming in on the tail end of a rhythm and blues singing group explosion, The Five Heartbeats (Robert Townsend, Michael... [More]
Directed By: Robert Townsend

#59

Jungle Fever (1991)
82%

#59
Adjusted Score: 84389%
Critics Consensus: Jungle Fever finds Spike Lee tackling timely sociopolitical themes in typically provocative style, even if the result is sometimes ambitious to a fault.
Synopsis: A married black lawyer named Flipper (Wesley Snipes) begins an affair with Angie (Annabella Sciorra), his white secretary. When the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#58

New Jack City (1991)
77%

#58
Adjusted Score: 78776%
Critics Consensus: Stylishly directed by Mario Van Peebles, New Jack City offsets its melodramatic streak with electrifying action and a cavalcade of effective performances.
Synopsis: Drug tycoon Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) and his minions, known collectively as the Cash Money Brothers, have rapidly risen to... [More]
Directed By: Mario Van Peebles

#56

Paris Is Burning (1990)
98%

#56
Adjusted Score: 101956%
Critics Consensus: Paris Is Burning dives into '80s transgender subculture, with the understated camera allowing this world to flourish and the people to speak (and dance) for themselves.
Synopsis: This documentary focuses on drag queens living in New York City and their "house" culture, which provides a sense of... [More]
Directed By: Jennie Livingston

#57

House Party (1990)
93%

#57
Adjusted Score: 94522%
Critics Consensus: House Party is a light, entertaining teen comedy with an infectious energy.
Synopsis: Play's parents are out of town, and he's planning the house party to end all house parties. His best friend,... [More]
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 88869%
Critics Consensus: To Sleep with Anger examines cultural tensions with a deft hand and a potent blend of comedy and drama, stirred skillfully to life by a strong cast led by Danny Glover.
Synopsis: Vagabond Harry (Danny Glover) pays an unexpected visit to his old chum Gideon (Paul Butler), who accepts the aimless man... [More]
Directed By: Charles Burnett

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 82493%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Teacher Ben du Toit (Donald Sutherland) mostly ignores the problems of apartheid in South Africa until he discovers that the... [More]
Directed By: Euzhan Palcy

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 100605%
Critics Consensus: Smart, vibrant, and urgent without being didactic, Do the Right Thing is one of Spike Lee's most fully realized efforts -- and one of the most important films of the 1980s.
Synopsis: Salvatore "Sal" Fragione (Danny Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out (Giancarlo... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#52

Glory (1989)
93%

#52
Adjusted Score: 96363%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made.
Synopsis: Following the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is offered command of the United States' first all-African-American... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 75831%
Critics Consensus: Eddie Murphy was in full control at this point, starkly evident in Coming to America's John Landis' coasting direction.
Synopsis: Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 63595%
Critics Consensus: I'm Gonna Git You Sucka puts a satirical spin on '70s nostalgia with a comedy whose somewhat scattershot laughs are often offset by pure energetic silliness.
Synopsis: Jack Spade (Keenen Ivory Wayans) comes home to the ghetto and finds his brother dead from a gold chain overdose.... [More]
Directed By: Keenen Ivory Wayans

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 92578%
Critics Consensus: With She's Gotta Have It, Spike Lee delivered his bracing first shot across Hollywood's bow -- and set the template for the groundbreaking act to follow.
Synopsis: Beautiful Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) can't decide what kind of man she wants to date, so she decides to... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#47

The Color Purple (1985)
81%

#47
Adjusted Score: 82021%
Critics Consensus: It might have been better served by a filmmaker with a deeper connection to the source material, but The Color Purple remains a worthy, well-acted adaptation of Alice Walker's classic novel.
Synopsis: An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#46

Krush Groove (1985)
43%

#46
Adjusted Score: 28654%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Russell Walker (Blair Underwood) has started a new hip-hop and rap label called Krush Groove, which features a stellar list... [More]
Directed By: Michael Schultz

#45

Purple Rain (1984)
70%

#45
Adjusted Score: 73320%
Critics Consensus: Purple Rain makes for undeniably uneven cinema, but it's held together by its star's singular charisma -- not to mention a slew of classic songs.
Synopsis: A victim of his own anger, the Kid (Prince) is a Minneapolis musician on the rise with his band, the... [More]
Directed By: Albert Magnoli

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 92280%
Critics Consensus: A meticulously-crafted murder mystery with incisive observations about race in America, A Soldier's Story benefits from a roundly excellent ensemble and Charles Fuller's politically urgent screenplay.
Synopsis: A black Army investigator (Howard E. Rollins Jr.) travels to a remote military base in the heart of the Louisiana... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#43

Sugar Cane Alley (1983)
100%

#43
Adjusted Score: 103233%
Critics Consensus: Visually and thematically evocative, Sugar Cane Alley tells a story that's heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure.
Synopsis: In the French colony of Martinique in the 1930s, rambunctious teenager Jose (Garry Cadenat) lives in a rundown shack in... [More]
Directed By: Euzhan Palcy

#42

Wild Style (1983)
89%

#42
Adjusted Score: 90011%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: South Bronx graffiti artist Shy Zoro is commissioned to paint a backdrop for a rap/break-dance concert.... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Ahearn

#49
#49
Adjusted Score: 86740%
Critics Consensus: Hollywood Shuffle overcomes budgetary constraints with sharp humor and infectious energy, heralding the arrival of an exciting new filmmaking talent in the bargain.
Synopsis: Aspiring actor and hot-dog stand employee Bobby Taylor (Robert Townsend) catches the ire of his grandmother (Helen Martin) for auditioning... [More]
Directed By: Robert Townsend

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A young British-born woman of color searches for security in her life and hopes to achieve it through marriage; however,... [More]
Directed By: Menelik Shabazz

#40
Adjusted Score: 56972%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The late Richard Pryor influenced a generation of comedians of all races, and his scathing brand of satire is offered... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Margolis

#39

Killer of Sheep (1977)
98%

#39
Adjusted Score: 99687%
Critics Consensus: By turns funny, sad, and profound, Killer of Sheep offers a sympathetic and humane glimpse into inner-city life.
Synopsis: In Watts, an urban and mostly African-American section of Los Angeles, Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders) spends his days toiling away... [More]
Directed By: Charles Burnett

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a poor African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles, once-aspiring poet Johnny Williams (James Earl Jones) takes a low-paying job as... [More]
Directed By: Krishna Shah

#37

Cooley High (1975)
85%

#37
Adjusted Score: 84408%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Richard "Cochise" Morris (Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs), a local basketball hero, and Leroy "Preach" Jackson (Glynn Turman), who dreams of a career... [More]
Directed By: Michael Schultz

#36
Adjusted Score: 88049%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Beginning during the racial turmoil of 1960s Louisiana, 110-year-old ex-slave Jane Pittman (Cicely Tyson) grants an interview to a persistent... [More]
Directed By: John Korty

#35

Claudine (1974)
57%

#35
Adjusted Score: 46555%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Claudine (Diahann Carroll) is a single mother in New York City who endures an exhausting commute to the suburbs where... [More]
Directed By: John Berry

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 66049%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Blue-collar buddies (Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby) search the underworld for a winning lottery ticket lost in a nightclub holdup.... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Poitier

#33
Adjusted Score: 72219%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A former CIA agent (Lawrence Cook) organizes black teenagers into well-trained guerrilla bands bent on overthrowing the white establishment.... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Dixon

#32

Black Caesar (1973)
64%

#32
Adjusted Score: 64554%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Growing up on the tough streets of Harlem, Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson) has his life made even harder by John... [More]
Directed By: Larry Cohen

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 85554%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Tired of poverty, two Senegalese men steal money and clothing, then book passage to France to start new lives.... [More]
Directed By: Djibril Diop Mambety

#30

The Mack (1973)
60%

#30
Adjusted Score: 11375%