"Positive" Movies & TV Shows with African Americans

by Jacob Goldstein | created - 06 Sep 2012 | updated - 13 Sep 2012 | Public

Films featuring black americans, without the stereotypical roles of today (thuggish, gangs, etc.).

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1. The Great Debaters (2007)

PG-13 | 126 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

65 Metascore

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

Director: Denzel Washington | Stars: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Nate Parker

Votes: 51,622 | Gross: $30.23M

2. A Raisin in the Sun (2008 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 131 min | Drama

An African-American family struggles with poverty, racism, and inner conflict as they strive for a better way of life. Based on the play by Lorraine Hansberry.

Director: Kenny Leon | Stars: Sean Combs, Sanaa Lathan, Audra McDonald, Phylicia Rashad

Votes: 1,618

3. The Cosby Show (1984–1992)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family, Romance

The goings-on in the life of a successful African-American family.

Stars: Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Votes: 27,700

4. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

PG-13 | 117 min | Biography, Drama

64 Metascore

A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional career.

Director: Gabriele Muccino | Stars: Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith, Brian Howe

Votes: 383,850 | Gross: $163.57M

5. Reign Over Me (2007)

R | 124 min | Drama

61 Metascore

A man who lost his family in the September 11 attack on New York City runs into his old college roommate. Rekindling the friendship is the one thing that appears able to help the man recover from his grief.

Director: Mike Binder | Stars: Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler

Votes: 88,191 | Gross: $19.66M

6. Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

PG | 112 min | Drama

72 Metascore

A young girl from South Los Angeles tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee.

Director: Doug Atchison | Stars: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Keke Palmer, Curtis Armstrong

Votes: 16,621 | Gross: $18.81M

7. John Q (2002)

PG-13 | 116 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

30 Metascore

John Quincy Archibald takes a hospital emergency room hostage when his insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant.

Director: Nick Cassavetes | Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, Gabriela Oltean, Kimberly Elise

Votes: 109,741 | Gross: $71.76M

8. Malcolm X (1992)

PG-13 | 202 min | Biography, Drama, History

72 Metascore

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee

Votes: 71,434 | Gross: $48.17M

9. Ali (2001)

R | 157 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

65 Metascore

A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles

Votes: 85,183 | Gross: $58.20M

10. Remember the Titans (2000)

PG | 113 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

48 Metascore

The true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

Director: Boaz Yakin | Stars: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst

Votes: 176,761 | Gross: $115.65M

11. Coach Carter (2005)

PG-13 | 136 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

57 Metascore

Controversy surrounds high school basketball coach Ken Carter after he benches his entire team for breaking their academic contract with him.

Director: Thomas Carter | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Ri'chard, Rob Brown

Votes: 104,602 | Gross: $67.26M

12. Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

91 Metascore

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson

Votes: 68,735 | Gross: $27.55M

13. I Am Legend (2007)

PG-13 | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

65 Metascore

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.

Director: Francis Lawrence | Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Votes: 602,026 | Gross: $256.39M

14. Coming to America (1988)

R | 116 min | Comedy, Romance

47 Metascore

An extremely pampered African Prince travels to Queens, New York, and goes undercover to find a wife whom he can respect for her intelligence and will.

Director: John Landis | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Paul Bates, Garcelle Beauvais, Feather

Votes: 136,582 | Gross: $128.15M

15. Seven Pounds (2008)

PG-13 | 123 min | Drama, Romance

36 Metascore

A man with a fateful secret embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.

Director: Gabriele Muccino | Stars: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy

Votes: 257,542 | Gross: $69.95M

16. Poetic Justice (1993)

R | 109 min | Drama, Romance

51 Metascore

In this film, we see the world through the eyes of main character Justice, a young African-American poet. A mail carrier invites a few friends along for a long overnight delivery run.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Regina King, Joe Torry

Votes: 10,310 | Gross: $27.52M

17. Think Like a Man (2012)

PG-13 | 122 min | Comedy, Romance

51 Metascore

Four friends conspire to turn the tables on their women when they discover the ladies have been using Steve Harvey's relationship advice against them.

Director: Tim Story | Stars: Chris Brown, Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy

Votes: 39,268 | Gross: $91.55M

18. Good Burger (1997)

PG | 95 min | Comedy, Family

Two dim-witted teenagers are forced to save the fast food restaurant they work at from going out of business, despite a new-and-improved burger joint opening across the street that want to be the "Top Dog" in the fast food industry.

Director: Brian Robbins | Stars: Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson, Sinbad, Abe Vigoda

Votes: 22,850 | Gross: $23.69M

19. Kenan & Kel (1996–2000)

TV-Y7 | 30 min | Comedy, Family

Kenan and Kel. Two best friends who live in Chicago are always dragged down by Kenan's get rich quick schemes while orange soda loving buddy Kel is dragged along but tends to mess things up

Stars: Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Ken Foree, Teal Marchande

Votes: 12,424

20. Smart Guy (1997–1999)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Ten-year-old genius (Tahj Mowry) has skipped six grades into high school. This incredible promotion somewhat aggravates his teenage siblings.

Stars: Tahj Mowry, John Marshall Jones, Jason Weaver, Omar Gooding

Votes: 3,755

21. Family Matters (1989–1998)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Long-running Perfect Strangers (1986) spin-off series centering on the Winslow family and their pesky next-door neighbor, ultra-nerd Steve Urkel.

Stars: Reginald VelJohnson, Jaleel White, Kellie Shanygne Williams, Darius McCrary

Votes: 20,875

22. Love & Basketball (2000)

PG-13 | 124 min | Drama, Romance, Sport

70 Metascore

Monica and Quincy love and play basketball together through many life challenges from childhood to adulthood.

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood | Stars: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Glenndon Chatman, Jess Willard

Votes: 15,921 | Gross: $27.44M

23. Soul Men (2008)

R | 100 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

49 Metascore

Though it's been some twenty years since they have spoken with one another, two estranged soul-singing legends agree to participate in a reunion performance at the Apollo Theater to honor their recently deceased band leader.

Director: Malcolm D. Lee | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Sharon Leal, Adam Herschman

Votes: 9,454 | Gross: $12.08M

24. Jumping the Broom (2011)

PG-13 | 112 min | Comedy, Drama

56 Metascore

Two very different families converge on Martha's Vineyard one weekend for a wedding.

Director: Salim Akil | Stars: Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine

Votes: 8,572 | Gross: $37.30M

25. The Haunted Mansion (2003)

PG | 88 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

34 Metascore

A realtor and his wife and children are summoned to a mansion, which they soon discover is haunted, and while they attempt to escape, he learns an important lesson about the family he has neglected.

Director: Rob Minkoff | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Marsha Thomason, Jennifer Tilly, Terence Stamp

Votes: 35,939 | Gross: $75.85M

26. Fat Albert (2004)

PG | 93 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

39 Metascore

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids come to life and step out of their animated, inner-city Philadelphia world.

Director: Joel Zwick | Stars: Kenan Thompson, Kyla Pratt, Omarion Grandberry, Marques Houston

Votes: 10,150 | Gross: $48.12M

27. Blade (1998)

R | 120 min | Action, Horror

45 Metascore

A half-vampire, half-mortal man becomes a protector of the mortal race, while slaying evil vampires.

Director: Stephen Norrington | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N'Bushe Wright

Votes: 214,164 | Gross: $70.09M

28. Blade II (2002)

R | 117 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

52 Metascore

Blade forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire council in order to combat the Reapers, who are feeding on vampires.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela

Votes: 177,348 | Gross: $82.35M

29. Blade: Trinity (2004)

R | 113 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

38 Metascore

Blade, now a wanted man by the FBI, must join forces with the Nightstalkers to face his most challenging enemy yet: Dracula.

Director: David S. Goyer | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Parker Posey, Ryan Reynolds

Votes: 148,263 | Gross: $52.41M

30. Everybody Hates Chris (2005–2009)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy

A young African American teen attempts to survive with his dysfunctional family and his all white school in the 1980s.

Stars: Terry Crews, Tichina Arnold, Tequan Richmond, Imani Hakim

Votes: 30,570

31. Doctor Dolittle (1998)

PG-13 | 85 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

46 Metascore

A doctor discovers that he can communicate with animals.

Director: Betty Thomas | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Peter Boyle, Ossie Davis, Oliver Platt

Votes: 83,084 | Gross: $144.16M

32. Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001)

PG | 87 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

49 Metascore

Dolittle must save a forest and a bear's life.

Director: Steve Carr | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Cedric the Entertainer, Kristen Wilson, Raven-Symoné

Votes: 37,500 | Gross: $112.95M

33. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990–1996)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy

A streetwise, poor young man from Philadelphia is sent by his mother to live with his aunt, uncle and cousins in their Bel-Air mansion.

Stars: Will Smith, James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali

Votes: 101,446

34. Are We There Yet? (2005)

PG | 95 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

27 Metascore

Nick Persons is a selfish player who owns a collectables sports shop in Portland, Oregon. Everything in his life is perfect until he meets Suzanne Kingston, a business woman who has ... See full summary »

Director: Brian Levant | Stars: Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen, Philip Bolden

Votes: 25,364 | Gross: $82.67M

35. My Wife and Kids (2001–2005)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Family

Michael Kyle longs for a traditional life, but his day-trader wife Janet, gangsta rap-worshipping son Michael Jr., and brooding daughters Claire and Kady make his dream just that ... a dream.

Stars: Damon Wayans, Tisha Campbell-Martin, George Gore II, Parker McKenna Posey

Votes: 23,009

36. Sister, Sister (1994–1999)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell are twins separated at birth who learn of each other's existence and come together as teenagers.

Stars: Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Jackée Harry, Tim Reid

Votes: 8,893

37. The Bernie Mac Show (2001–2006)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

A stand up comedian suddenly becomes a father when he takes custody of his sister's three children.

Stars: Bernie Mac, Kellita Smith, Jeremy Suarez, Dee Dee Davis

Votes: 5,990

38. Brown Sugar (2002)

PG-13 | 109 min | Romance, Comedy, Drama

58 Metascore

Friends since childhood, a magazine editor and a hip-hop record executive stumble into romantic territory.

Director: Rick Famuyiwa | Stars: Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Yasiin Bey, Nicole Ari Parker

Votes: 7,633 | Gross: $27.36M

39. Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

R | 160 min | Action, Crime, Drama

37 Metascore

Set in 1944 Italy, the story of four black American soldiers who get trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII.

Director: Spike Lee | Stars: Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller

Votes: 16,602 | Gross: $7.92M

40. Mr 3000 (2004)

PG-13 | 104 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

57 Metascore

Aging baseball star who goes by the nickname, Mr. 3000, finds out many years after retirement that he didn't quite reach 3,000 hits. Now at age 47 he's back to try and reach that goal.

Director: Charles Stone III | Stars: Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Michael Rispoli, Brian White

Votes: 13,004 | Gross: $21.80M

41. Soul Food (1997)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama

68 Metascore

One person can keep a family together and, when that one person is gone, a family can be torn apart.

Director: George Tillman Jr. | Stars: Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach

Votes: 5,951 | Gross: $43.49M

42. Ray (I) (2004)

PG-13 | 152 min | Biography, Drama, Music

73 Metascore

The story of the life and career of the legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings in the South, where he went blind at age seven, to his meteoric rise to stardom during the 1950s and 1960s.

Director: Taylor Hackford | Stars: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell

Votes: 121,944 | Gross: $75.33M

43. Sister Act (1992)

PG | 100 min | Comedy, Crime, Family

51 Metascore

When a worldly singer witnesses a mob crime, the police hide her as a nun in a traditional convent where she has trouble fitting in.

Director: Emile Ardolino | Stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena

Votes: 74,492 | Gross: $139.61M

44. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)

PG | 107 min | Comedy, Family, Music

Showgirl Deloris Van Cartier returns as Sister Mary Clarence to teach music to a group of Catholic students whose run-down school is slated for closure.

Director: Bill Duke | Stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Najimy, Maggie Smith, Barnard Hughes

Votes: 41,773 | Gross: $57.32M

45. Down to Earth (2001)

PG-13 | 87 min | Comedy, Fantasy

32 Metascore

After dying before his time, an aspiring black comic gets a second shot at life - by being placed in the body of a wealthy white businessman.

Directors: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz | Stars: Chris Rock, Regina King, Chazz Palminteri, Eugene Levy

Votes: 20,071 | Gross: $64.19M

46. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

R | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

64 Metascore

A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.

Director: Martin Brest | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher

Votes: 141,532 | Gross: $234.76M

47. Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)

R | 100 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

48 Metascore

Axel Foley returns to Beverly Hills to help Taggart and Rosewood investigate Chief Bogomil's near-fatal shooting and the series of "alphabet crimes" associated with it.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Jürgen Prochnow, Ronny Cox

Votes: 93,917 | Gross: $153.67M

48. Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

R | 104 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

16 Metascore

Axel Foley, while investigating a car theft ring, comes across something much bigger than that: the same men who shot his boss are running a counterfeit money ring out of a theme park in Los Angeles.

Director: John Landis | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Jon Tenney, Joey Travolta, Eugene Collier

Votes: 67,076 | Gross: $42.61M

49. Shaft (2000)

R | 99 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

50 Metascore

New York City police detective John Shaft (nephew of the original 1970s detective) goes on a personal mission to make sure the son of a real estate tycoon is brought to justice after a racially-motivated murder.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Christian Bale, Jeffrey Wright

Votes: 62,958 | Gross: $70.33M

50. Lethal Weapon (1987)

R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Thriller