Each month, Netflix fills up our watchlist with a stream of freshly added titles – from nostalgic ’90s throwbacks to brand new blockbusters. Danny Boyle Beatles romcom? Check. Legally Blonde 2? You got it. Jake Gyllenhaal thriller? That’s here as well. But as it’s currently Black History Month, we thought we’d highlight some of the streamer’s best films that put Black faces at the forefront. Go seek these out!
A witty indie, Uncorked follows Elijah and his covert double life – one spent working with his parents at their successful soul food restaurant, and another chasing his dream of becoming a master sommelier. Many movies feature wannabe chefs, but a sommelier? It’s such an underrepresented part of the industry that the story feels fresh and unique. Heartfelt and extremely watchable, this is vintage Netflix.
Like this? Try this: Love and Basketball, Juanita
Two Distant Strangers (2020)
After winning an Oscar earlier this year, Travon Free’s Netflix short was soon enveloped by a cloud of plagiarism accusations – but it deserves your time nonetheless. Inspired by Groundhog Day, the film places police brutality at the centre of its story. Carter James (played by NYC rapper Joey Bada$$) is wrongfully arrested by a cop while rushing home to look after his dog – and shot dead. He then gets stuck in a time loop and is forced to relive his murder over and over again. Two Distant Strangers‘ message is a chilling one: no matter how you change your conduct, if a policeman wants you guilty, you will be.
Paid In Full (2002)
Paid In Full is a noughties hip-hop classic. Produced by rap moguls Damon Dash and Jay-Z, it follows three best mates from the Brooklyn projects who quit their dead-end jobs and become successful drug dealers before, eventually, greed gets between them. Boasting a top-notch soundtrack filled with R&B bangers, Paid In Full has stayed current thanks to the many recent artists who’ve sampled it in their tunes.
Like this? Try these: Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Boyz N The Hood
Nappily Ever After (2018)
In this generation’s new Black hair movement, natural hair is once again a beautiful thing to behold – with many woman viewing their hair like a crown to show off. Nappily Ever After argues that altering your appearance to try to appease someone won’t bring lasting happiness. Sometimes, you’ve got to shave off those locks and feel free from the stigma placed on you and be yourself — that’s what Violet (played by Sanaa Lathan) did.
Like this? Try these: Set It Up, Fatherhood
Another Netflix Original, Fatherhood tells an emotionally complex story about raising a daughter from a male point of view. Single fathers are rarely depicted on screen, which makes this Kevin Hart vehicle all the more interesting. We watch Matt — recently widowed with a newborn — as he learns to not only take care of a child by himself, but also how to love and trust again after his wife was cruelly taken from him. With Hollywood funnyman Hart excelling in a rare dramatic role, this is a must-watch.
Like this? Try these? Nappily Ever After, Uncorked
The After Party (2018)
This fairly recent music comedy is the colourful tale of aspiring rapper Owen (played by I-Spy MC Kyle) and his manager, who try to find a late night afters which holds the key to a big money record deal. It’s definitely one to watch if you’re in need of chuckle. From Owen performing in the toilet for an intern — not the label big shot he’d hoped for — to the many comical obstacles he has to overcome, there are laughs aplenty. Also, check out some of your favourite rappers who make cameos: Ski Mask The Slump God, Wiz Khalifa and the late, great DMX to name but a few.
Like this? Try these: How High, Love Beats Rhymes
How High (2001)
How High is everything you want from a potty-mouthed stoner movie. Stuffed with slapstick, this cheesy classic is now 20 years old, but its main duo of Method Man and Redman is still a delight. They play two empty-headed smokers who grow a magic weed strain that helps them bag full scholarships to Harvard. Visually a trip, How High is also the perfect pick-me-up for a cold and damp October weekend.
Like this? Try these: Dude, Where’s My Car?, Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
Little Man (2006)
Comic geniuses the Wayans Brothers have given the world cult classics like Scary Movie, Dance Flick and White Chicks. But lesser-known gem Little Man lacks the slapstick eccentricity synonymous with their work. Yes, it carries the same absurdity – since Marlon plays an adult criminal who pretends to be a baby so he can hide from the cops – but its no-frills approach means there are fewer set-piece stunts and less over-the-top sarcasm. It’s the perfect chill-out comedy.
Like this? Try these: Norbit, White Chicks
Love Beats Rhymes (2017)
Before she took to tanking her career with a series of Twitter rants and allegedly stewing cats on Instagram, Azealia Banks was a revered lyricist who’s nifty rap skills made her a huge asset in romcom Love Beats Rhymes. Directed by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, this musical drama centres around college kid Coco who takes a poetry class to further her talent, but ends up fighting with the teacher (legendary jazz singer Jill Scott) to have her prose accepted as the art form it is. All this goes on while Coco tries to fit into the scholarly lifestyle of her new teaching assistant beau. It’s feel-good and fun — and a rare chance to see Azealia Banks in a good light.
Like this? Try these: The After Party, Step Sisters
Another serious film about social justice reform, Monster often veers close to reality. Following Steve — an honours roll high-school student who is absurdly mistaken for a murder suspect — as he fights to clear his name and avoid a hefty life sentence, the film is set against a gritty New York backdrop. It’s also stuffed with rap legends like Nas and A$AP Rocky.
Like this? Try these: Two Distant Strangers, Fruitvale Station