Black History Month is a time to celebrate the rich culture, contributions, and history of black people. What better way to do that than by watching some amazing films and TV shows that showcase the diversity and beauty of the Black experience.
Whether you’re looking for a documentary that will teach you about the past, a drama that will move you to tears, or a comedy that will make you laugh, there’s something for everyone on this list of must-see films and TV shows.
Based on the 1981 Broadway musical, Dreamgirls follows a trio of women ‘the Dreamettes’ (based on the legendary Supremes), on their tumultuous journey to the top. With a stellar lineup including Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, and Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls uses captivating songs to express the plight of black artists in 1960s America.
Set in 1920s New Orleans, Disney’s The Princess & The Frog tells the story of waitress Tiana, who aspires to own her own restaurant. Along her journey, she meets Prince Naveen who has been turned into a frog by a menacing witch doctor, and in her attempt to save the prince, she is inadvertently turned into a frog. A landmark in mainstream representation, The Princess & The Frog ushered in a new era for Disney princesses’.
The third entry from talented director Jordan Peele, Nope tells the sinister story of a family’s interactions with the first signs of an alien life. The film benefits from the incredible acting prowess of Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya as a highly relatable brother and sister duo.
Adapted from August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Denzel Washington’s Fences tells the story of a father plagued by long-lost dreams and the subsequent consequences. A struggling father must overcome these issues or face destroying his son’s future. With a standout performance by Viola Davis, Fences excellently portrays the struggles of a complex twentieth-century family.
Rocky Balboa, a retired boxing champion, is drawn back into the ring when he meets Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and rival Apollo Creed. Adonis, a talented boxer, asks Rocky to train him, and Rocky reluctantly agrees.
In an age of sequels, reboots and remakes, Creed stands apart, breathing fresh life into the Rocky franchise, with standout performances from Michael B Jordon and Sylvester Stallone.
Inspired by the true story of the Agojie tribe – the all-female warriors who helped protect the Dahomey kingdom in West Africa – The Woman King centres on Thuso Mbedu’s Naw, who under the leadership of Viola Davis’ ruthless General Nanisca transforms into a formidable and commanding member of the Agojie. Incredibly brutal with fantastic action and riveting performances led by an almost all black female cast, The Woman King visualises a powerful and thought-provoking depiction of female solidarity and resilience.
Set within the ball room scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pose centres on Michaela Jaé Rodriguez’s Blanca Evangelista and her house of Evangelista, who compete in various balls hosted by Billy Porter’s Pray Tell. Written, produced and acted by a stellar cast of black and brown trans and gender non-confirming people, Pose celebrates trans voices, by creating a compelling and complex narrative that helps educate audiences to the nuances of queerness.
Based off the novel by Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire centres on Jacob Anderson’s Louis de Pointe du Lac as he recounts his complicated life story from human to vampire and his complex relationship with vampire Lestat de Lioncourt. Set in 1920s New Orleans, Interview with the Vampire explores the fantastical and darkness of Rice’s original novel, whilst seamlessly integrating the prevalent racism and homophobia, that ultimately shapes how Louis positions himself in the mortal world and his passionate relationship with Lestat.
Remi Weekes’ acclaimed horror His House, centres on Wunmi Mosaku’s Rial and Sope Ddirisu’s Bol, a married couple who have fled violence in Sudan to live a new life in England. Touching on incredibly prevalent issues of immigration and cultural identity, His House uses horror elements to expertly craft a poignant story of survival and trauma set within the background of a crumbling council house in the outskirts of London. With startling revelations, incredibly raw performances by Mosaku and Ddirisu and terrifying horror elements, His House is a marvel in blending reality and the supernatural.
Set within the fictional Willard R. Abbott Elementary school in Philadelphia, the American mockumentary depicts the lives of several of the school’s teachers including Brunson’s Janine, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Barbara and Janelle James’ Ava and the often-hilarious difficulties they face working in a severely underfunded public school. Through Brunson’s sharp and highly entertaining writing, the series excels as the faux documentary style allows both the teachers and the children to shine in their performances. Through comedy, Abbott Elementary helps showcase the ever-prevalent problems that impact America’s public schools, and how these problems disproportionally affect black and brown communities.