Black History Month: 10 movies to add to your watchlist

Man and woman eating popcorn

Looking to expand your watchlist this Black History Month? There are many great movies out there. We have made a list of 10 movies you should watch in this post:
 

#1 Do the Right Thing
 

Do The Right Thing is written, produced, and directed by Spike Lee. It centres around a dispute between a Black neighbourhood resident and an Italian pizza restaurant owner and the tension that arises as a result. While the movie was made in the 1980s, many of its messages of racism, police brutality, and prejudice, are relevant today, making it an important watch even in 2021.
 

#2 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
 

Actress Viola Davies stars as “Mother of the Blues” Gertrude “Ma” Rainey in this movie, set in 1927. Tensions arise between Rainey – the “Mother of Blues” –  her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman – in what is his final performance before sadly passing away last year) and their White management team during recording sessions of one of Rainey’s recording sessions. The movie was nominated for several awards, and Davies and Bosman (posthumously) won Outstanding Performance by a Female/Male Actor in a Leading Role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. 

Watch Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix
 

#3 Harriet
 

Harriet is a biographical film starring Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman – an American abolitionist who freed dozens of people from slavery and fought for civil rights and freedom of Black people in the USA throughout her life between 1822-1913. The movie tells her life story, how she escaped slavery, and helped others do the same through ‘The Underground Railroad’ and is a great portrayal of her courage and vision for a fairer world.
 

#4 The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
 

This movie is set in Malawi and focuses on William Kamkwamba – a young boy with a clever mind and interest in science and engineering – and his efforts to save his village from starvation. The movie is based on the memoir of the same name by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer,  and the screenplay by Chiwetel Ejiofor received a lot of praise.  
 

#5 Da 5 Bloods
 

This is another movie directed by Spike Lee. The film’s plot follows a group of four ageing Vietnam War veterans who return to the country in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader, as well as the treasure they buried while serving there.

Watch Da 5 Bloods on Netflix
 

#6 Lionheart (2018)
 

Lionheart is a Nigerian drama. The movie focuses on a young woman called Adaeze, who steps up to run her father’s business when he cannot continue due to health reasons. Not only does Adaeze have to face the challenge of taking over a business very suddenly – she also faces the challenges of being a woman running a business in a male-dominated industry.
 

#7 Canvas (2020)
 

This movie is the shortest on this list – running time only being nine minutes in total. It is an animated movie, centring around an elderly widower, grieving the loss of his wife and his granddaughter who discovers that he was an artist and tries to get him to paint again.
 

#8 Malcolm and Marie
 

Zendaya and John Washington star in this movie written, produced and directed by Sam Levinson. The movie focuses on the tensions between Malcolm – a writer/director – and his girlfriend Marie and Zendaya were nominated for the Best Actress award at the Critics’ Choice Awards for her performance.

Watch Malcolm and Marie on Netflix
 

#9 Just Mercy 
 

The movie centres around lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his defendant Walter McMillian who is on death row for murder – despite existing evidence showing his innocence. The movie spans a timeline of several years and depicts the racism, and barriers Black people face within the justice system.
 

#10 Juanita
 

This movie is based upon the novel Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams. It centres on Juanita who, in a quest to find more fulfilment with herself and her life, leaves her grown kids behind and goes on a soul-searching journey.  

Looking for more recommendations this Black History Month?

Check out our article on 10 Female Black Writers you should be reading and Black History Month events happening in Glasgow.

Written by student journalist Daniella