It’s award season and let’s be real, Black actors and directors have been shining bright all the way through! On Wednesday, February 22 at 8 p.m. EST, BET and Centric will be airing the 2017 American Black Film Festival Honors, which will be a lit celebration of that Black culture shine!
The network will be staying true to the event’s mission of honoring individuals, movies and television shows that have had a significant impact on American entertainment.
Black Hollywood has always been influential in the landscape of the film industry and in true Black History fashion, we’re here to get you hip on the top 10 films that have helped to shape that landscape. But let’s see if you can guess them first!
10. This film originally came out 1999 and told the story of one of the most iconic rap groups out of California that changed the rap game forever. In 2015, in the midst of the start of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, two of the original rap group members produced a new rendition to the original film. They put a modern story-telling twist on how these street gangsters turned rappers stoop up to the authorities that meant to keep them down with just their lyrics. We were ALL running to the theatres on opening weekend for this one.
Answer: Straight Outta Compton
9. This movie had some mixed reviews, but there’s no doubt that it stirred the film industry pot with it’s unique Greek mythology approach to the gang violence in the most dangerous parts of Chicago. Directed by Spike Lee and starring Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, Dave Chappelle and Angela Bassett, the film challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.
8. Space, Black women and math? It may seem like an uncommon combination and it may very well be, but Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae made it look almost effortless in this 20th Century FOX film about the significant influence three Black women mathematicians had on NASA’s early space program in America.
Answer: Hidden Figures
7. Every Black man could probably relate to this A24 film about a young Black man trying to make it and figure out who he is in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Miami. Its director, Barry Jenkins, is the first Black filmmaker to be nominated for Best Adaptation of a Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Director.
6. This movie starred both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as the main characters, the acting duo we’ve always dreamed of for a movie! The two actors flawlessly tell a hard and flawed, but genuine story about a Black family trying to survive while dealing with their inner demons and struggles about their places in the world. Washington and Davis both won big at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
5. Played by the beautiful, talented and always slayed for the GAWDS Lupita Nyong’o, this movie follows a Ugandan girl who takes on a new perspective of the world after an introduction to the game of chess. What’s really cool about this film is it introduced a lot of fresh talent, featuring young actors with South African and Ugandan roots. At the end of the film, the actors appear with the real life people they played.
4. Ok, this one is easy. This period drama is based on the story of Nat Turner, an enslaved man who led a slave rebellion. We’re pretty sure we all learned some sort of version of this story, so if you can’t guess this one, we’re seriously side-eyeing you! This movie was the real deal and is said to be the most truthful account of the Nat Turner story.
Answer: The Birth of a Nation
3. The third part of an irresistible series starring Regina Hall, Ice Cube, Common and Eve, this movie took the franchise up several levels as it dug deep into issues affecting the Black community with lighthearted humor. It showed what even a small barbershop in the hood can do when we work together (Ok, we gave it away with the barbershop part).
Answer: Barber Shop 3
2. Every time we’re able to catch a rerun on this movie it’s like the best thing since slice bread. No matter how many times you watch it, it’s like seeing it for the first time. Starring a few legends, including Vivica Fox, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Queen Latifah, this suspenseful film follows four strong Black women all going through their own personal struggles and finally decide to take matters into their own hands. We have to admit, it does have a pretty tragic end that is sure to cause a few tears to fall from your eye, but nonetheless, it’s an undebatable classic.
Answer: Set it Off
1 You know we had to make the last one a little bit of a challenge. This one is a late 90s oldie but goodie, starring Samuel L. Jackson as a skilled police negotiator. In true “desperate times call for desperate measures” fashion, Jackson is accused of corruption and murder and in every attempt to prove his innocence, holds hostages in a government office as he races to find the truth. Icing on the cake; he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role.
Answer: The Negotiator
Denzel Washington, Issa Rae, Terrence Howard, F. Gary Gary, Jay Ellis and more will be honored at the BET American Black Film Festival Honors with presentations from Omari Hardwick, Common, Viola Davis, Lee Daniels, and Morris Chestnut. Maxwell and Dionne Farris will woo the audience with sultry performances as well. February 22 will surely be a night to remember!
Written By: Chey Parker, Black Girl Digital Content Creator