Black History Month is over, but that doesn’t mean that Black-led films should take a backseat. Far too often, it takes a little bit of digging to find Black-led movies to support. For all of the progress we’ve made, representation still eludes us. To rectify this issue, I’ve curated a list of 6 great films that you can find on Netflix or rent on Amazon Prime. These Black-led films deserve attention even after Black History Month is over. These six films span the gamut from drama to romance, modern western to sci-fi.
Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees and starring Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, and Rob Morgan, is probably the most well-known film on this list. The film debuted to critical acclaim and was nominated for several Academy Awards (Best Writing, Best Cinematography, and Best Actress in a supporting role). But it still feels underserved by the popular audience. Mudbound is a searing take on the pressures that sustained racism after WWII and mixes the necessary brutality with a tenderness that assaults the heartstrings. Mudbound can be found on Netflix.
Concrete Cowboy (2021)
Concrete Cowboy was one of my favorite movies of 2021. Ricky Staub’s story of black fatherhood, the emergence of manhood, and the historical mystique of Cowboys in the modern age is exceedingly well-made. Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrell Jerome, and Method Man star. The story Concrete Cowboy tells is not ground-breaking, but the story is told with such artistry that it is impossible to watch unmoved. Concrete Cowboy can be found on Netflix.
Will Smith stars along with Margot Robbie in a slick tale of sex, theft, and double-dealing. Focus tells the story of smooth-talking conman Nick Smith and the woman he can’t shake. Focus is not the greatest of heist movies, but it is immensely fun and surprisingly sensuous for a modern film. A perfect movie to spend 2 hours on. Will Smith and Margot Robbie have a smoldering tension that the R rating curiously moderates, and the supporting cast is more than capable. Focus is available to rent on Amazon Prime.
The Take (2016)
The Take was widely seen as Idris Elba’s James Bond audition, and through those lenses, The Take is a very intriguing watch. Elba more than delivers as an action star in this tight, 90-minute drama. The Take blends the requisite action and stakes in a way that feels fresh if not original. Idris stars along Richard Madden in an unlikely buddy cop pairing that is hugely entertaining. The Take is available on Netflix.
Sleight is one of the most pleasantly surprising movies of the last few years. Relative newcomer Jacob Lattimore – directed by J.D. Dillard – stars as Bo Wolfe, a street magician with a world of problems. Sleight is a brisk but not breezy film that marries sci-fi elements with a superhero origin story. Dule Hill takes a villainous turn in a role meant for chewing scenery. In a world of endless sequels. this is a superhero film I’d like to see a follow-up to. Sleight is available for rent on Amazon Prime.
The Transfiguration (2016)
Are you interested in stories of dysfunction and fantasy, mixed with thriller and body horror elements? Michael O’Shea’s The Transfiguration does all of that and more in a film that deserved more acclaim and a bigger audience. Eric Ruffin is fantastically alluring and subdued as Milo, a young boy obsessed with vampire lore. The ending of this genre-bending exploration of masculinity and pop culture is intriguing and ripe for conversation. The Transfiguration is available on Netflix.