The phrase ‘black movies’ can be a tad confusing because tons of movies have nuances of black culture. Black culture is a potent cultural dynamic in the US, prevalent in music, fashion, and product trends. That said, black movies are flicks that celebrate great black filmmaking, performances, and stories.
The 5 best black movies available to watch on Starz – 2020 update
- For Ahkeem
- Bad Boys for Life
- The Shawshank Redemption
- American Gangster
- Black and Blue
The best black movies on Starz evoke laughter, tears, insight, thrills, and a range of other emotions. In short, everyone can find something to suit their taste. These are movies you’ll want to add to your watchlist and enjoy with family and friends.
In the last few decades, African American filmmakers and actors have been behind some of the industry’s most earth-shaking films. Creating critically acclaimed work centered on the culture’s themes, characters, and stories are praise and binge-worthy. The list below has cherry-picked some of the best black movies on Starz to give you a headstart on what to begin watching.
1. For Ahkeem
For Ahkeem – IMDb
For Ahkeem is a 2017 coming of age documentary that tells the story of Daje Shelton. “Boonie” Daje is a 17-year-old girl from St. Louis, Missouri. Thrown out of public high school after a schoolyard brawl, Daje, an African American girl, has to attend the Innovative Concept Academy. Her education is now under the scrutiny of the court, a process that gives her one last opportunity to clinch her high school diploma.
She faces diverse challenges despite the deep determination that she has to turn her life around. Her dream of a better future is on shaky ground because of the influence of her peers and her neighborhood. She walks a very tightrope trying to balance education, love, and the gun violence around her.
For Ahkeem narrates two years of her life at the Innovative Concept Academy. During this period, she attends several of her friend’s funerals, falls in love with classmate Antonio, and becomes a mother to Ahkeem.
Her tumultuous but loving relationship with Antonio highlights the experience of many black teenagers. It is a love that has to survive the harsh reality of racial bias and poor police to community relationships. This story portrays the determination, strength, and resilience that American teenagers need to survive the reality of being young and black.
2. Bad Boys for Life
Bad Boys for Life – IMDb
Twenty-five years after the first Bad Boys, Bad Boys for Life, the third installment of this buddy cop action reawakens in 2020. The franchise has been dormant since the 2003 release of Bad Boys II, a story revolving around two black Miami narcotics detectives.
The over the top action movie is led by Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowery (Will Smith) who plays on the franchises pure sensory overload premise, perfectly. The wise-cracking Marcus and Mike’s knack for solving crimes is as strong as ever, but both are slowing down as age kicks in.
Marcus has contemplated retirement, but these bad boys can still shoot, fight, and drive as the best of the underworld can. In Bad Boys for Life, the two cops are at odds with each other, because Mike is not ready to hang up his criminal chasing boots yet.
Unfortunately, both men have to reckon with their legacy of bloodshed as Isabel Aretas, a matriarch of a Miami drug cartel finds her way out of the Mexican prison. With the aid of her equally bloodthirsty son Armando, a plot for revenge against Mike kicks off.
Mike, the monied ladies’ man’s past affair with Isabel, had led to the murder of her Aretas cartel drug lord death and her incarceration. The duo teams up with AMMO, a younger and more tech unit of police for some “Fast and Furious” vibe.
This installment of this iconic black movie lacks director Michael Bay’s signature Bayhem aesthetic, so it is more subdued than its counterparts are. Still, the bad boys’ great screen chemistry, emotional mass, villains, and heroes storyline is worth the watch.
3. The Shawshank Redemption
Shawshank Redemption – IMDb
The premise of the Shawshank Redemption is, as one of its chief characters Andy Dufresne says, “hope is a good thing”. He adds, “Good things never die”. The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman as Ellis Redding or Red and Tim Robbins as Andy, is hands down one of the best movies of all time.
It is hard to believe that this fantastic top IMDb movie was a dud at its 1994 opening. A certified “guy cry” flick, it tells the story of Andy, the one innocent convict at Shawshank Prison. Dufresne is accused of murdering his wife and her flame. He receives double consecutive life terms in one of the toughest prisons the law could find.
Poor Andy befriends Red, the hellish prison’s go-to guy. Both actors give the film viewers a deep insight into the nature and effects of imprisonment and institutionalization, delivering the comfort of long-deserved big paychecks as well.
In one blissful scene, Dufresne, making most of his good bond with the prison warden and guards, locks himself into the warden’s space and listens to “The Marriage of Figaro” with ultimate euphoria flowing from his face. The Stephen King novella adaptation proves that prison is a state of mind, as Red’s and Andy’s friendship grows towards redemption, despite brutal prison life.
4. American Gangster
American Gangster – IMDb
|IMDb rating||Rotten Tomatoes Score||Where to watch|
|9.3/10||80/100||Starz Free Trial|
Anyone that loves director Ridley Scott’s cinematic displays of carnage, brazen alien oddity, and bare-chested warriors will love this 2007 movie. Scott’s movies have visual excesses and powerful themes making the horrific and brutal, very beautiful to look at.
American Gangster is one of his many fantastic bloodletting flicks starring Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas. Frank is a Harlem drug lord in the early 70s. Starting as a chauffeur to a local mobster, Frank rises to a hero kingpin after the death of his boss.
His inflexible business code and intelligence push him ahead, turning him into the inner city’s most prolific drug lord. Soon after it opens, the movie will show you Mr. Lucas’s empathetic blend of viciousness as he sets afire a terrified Hispanic guy on a shadowy street. He mercilessly shoots the screaming man five times as his gangster boss, Bumpy, watches on.
After the demise of the aging Bumpy played by Clarence Williams III, Frank kicks off his henchman career selling a cheaper, purer, and better product than Bumpy ever did. His “Blue Magic” product nets him millions. He moves from rags to riches and starts living life as other super-rich in Manhattan. But soon ace cop Richie Roberts is onto Lucas and the house of cards falls.
5. Black and Blue
Black and Blue – IMDb
Black and Blue was released in 2019, telling the story of Alicia West, a young black rookie police officer who, by chance, captures the murder of a drug dealer. Alicia, played by Naomie Harris, later realizes that her body cam’s murder recording involved rogue cops.
Trying to balance her black woman identity with that of her new career, she teams up with Milo Jackson aka “Mouse “played by Tyrese Gibson for survival and justice. The movie shows Alicia’s close scrapes with death at the hands of gangsters and the police alike as all parties involved go all out for the incriminating recording.
This fast-paced police drama has its conflict settling in early in the movie, showing Alicia running through a neighborhood recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The police stop her, rough her up, but let her be on discovering that she is a fellow officer.
The story also unravels the tension between the New Orleans neighborhood black citizens and the cops that patrol the area. The neighborhood is also in a state of friction as its good citizens strive to live a regular life near gangs and criminals. Alicia’s witness of the shooting escalates all sides of the conflict as Alicia learns deep lessons in trust.
- IMDb: For Ahkeem
- All4ed: Documentary Film For Ahkeem Highlights the Challenges African American Youth Face in School and the Community
- Rogerebert: For Ahkeem
- Reelgood: For Ahkeem
- IMDb: Bad Boys for Life
- IMDb: Bad Boys
- IMDb: Bad Boys II
- IMDb: The Shawshank Redemption
- IMDb: American Gangster
- IMDb: Ridley Scott
- IMDb: Clarence Williams III