Nationwide — The under-representation and lack of visibility of black lives and struggles in popular culture has been a major topic of discussion in recent months. More and more mainstream actors, producers, directors, and movie studios are beginning to admit accountability and are making promises to do better in the future, but there are some who are already fighting against the tide. If you are looking for examples either for yourself or for friends and family, this article highlights 4 of the best-reviewed movies of the 21st century, which put black lives, black talent, and issues of race on the frontline.
Note: This data has been sourced from the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes. If you are interested in seeing more iconic black movies of the 21st century, head over to RottenTomatoes.com to view the top 100.
1. Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther is just one of many gripping movies in the acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but it is far more than a superhero story. Starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther celebrated black characters and African culture (through the fictional East African nation of Wakanda) into the mainstream of popular culture. In addition to the rave reviews, according to data compiled by Cashlady, Black Panther is the world’s favorite superhero movie. It was also the first superhero movie ever to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and took in a whopping $1.3 billion at the box office.
2. Selma (2014)
Selma depicts the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches, which were directed by James Bevel and led by Hosea Williams, John Lewis, and Martin Luther King in 1965. The movie was written by Paul Webb, directed by Ava DuVernay and released two months before the 50th anniversary of the events. The movie was nominated for Best Picture and won Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and received four Golden Globe Award nominations.
3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (2018)
Another acclaimed superhero movie is the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse. It is the first animated movie in the Spider-man franchise and stars Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, a teenage boy who becomes Spider-Man. It is set in a ‘multiverse,’ which leads to Miles meeting and teaming up with several other versions of Spider-Man from different dimensions to save New York City from the villain, Kingpin. The movie has a unique animation style that required 140 animators and was the first non-Disney/Pixar movie to receive the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature since Rango in 2011.
4. Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures is based on a book of the same name and tells the stories of 3 black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Race between the US and Russia in the 1960s. The women were instrumental to NASA’s success, and the movie explores this as well as racism and sexism the women confronted. The movie was directed by Theodore Melfi and stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as the NASA mathematicians. The movie was nominated for 3 Oscars, 2 two Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
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