The 100 best Black / urban movies of all time

by ruffcoaley | created - 23 Dec 2013 | updated - 09 Nov 2015 | Public

These are the greatest Black / urban movies ever made

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1. Boyz n the Hood (1991)

R | 112 min | Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence, and future prospects.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir, Lloyd Avery II

Votes: 122,550 | Gross: $57.50M

2. Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 min | Comedy, Drama

93 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: 86,757 | Gross: $27.55M

3. 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 that he can respect for her intelligence and will.

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

Votes: 161,096 | Gross: $128.15M

4. Higher Learning (1995)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

54 Metascore

People from all different walks of life, encounter racial tension, rape, responsibility, and the meaning of an education on a university campus.

Director: John Singleton | Stars: Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, Michael Rapaport, Jennifer Connelly

Votes: 17,864 | Gross: $38.29M

5. Waiting to Exhale (1995)

R | 124 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Based on Terry McMillan's novel, this film follows four very different African-American women and their relationships with the male gender.

Director: Forest Whitaker | Stars: Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Lela Rochon

Votes: 9,382 | Gross: $67.05M

6. Glory (1989)

R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History

78 Metascore

Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 119,729 | Gross: $26.83M

7. The Mack (1973)

R | 110 min | Crime, Drama

Goldie returns from five years at the state pen and winds up King of the pimping game. Trouble comes in the form of two corrupt white cops and a crime lord who wants him to return to the small time.

Director: Michael Campus | Stars: Max Julien, Don Gordon, Richard Pryor, Carol Speed

Votes: 2,602

8. Menace II Society (1993)

R | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

76 Metascore

A young street hustler attempts to escape the rigors and temptations of the ghetto in a quest for a better life.

Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes | Stars: Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, June Kyoto Lu, Toshi Toda

Votes: 50,881 | Gross: $27.90M

9. Colors (1988)

R | 120 min | Action, Crime, Drama

66 Metascore

An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.

Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Maria Conchita Alonso, Randy Brooks

Votes: 23,835 | Gross: $46.62M

10. Friday (1995)

R | 91 min | Comedy, Drama

54 Metascore

Two homies, Smokey and Craig Jones, smoke a dope dealer's weed and try to figure a way to get the two hundred dollars they owe to the dealer by 10 p.m. that same night.

Director: F. Gary Gray | Stars: Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister

Votes: 98,074 | Gross: $27.47M

11. The Color Purple (1985)

PG-13 | 154 min | Drama

78 Metascore

A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery

Votes: 76,799 | Gross: $98.47M

12. New Jack City (1991)

R | 97 min | Action, Crime, Drama

61 Metascore

A crime lord ascends to power and becomes megalomaniacal while a maverick police detective vows to stop him.

Director: Mario Van Peebles | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne, Chris Rock

Votes: 30,899 | Gross: $47.62M

13. Super Fly (1972)

R | 91 min | Action, Crime, Drama

67 Metascore

The daily routine of cocaine dealer Priest who wants to score one more super deal and retire.

Director: Gordon Parks Jr. | Stars: Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier, Julius Harris

Votes: 6,421

14. Paid in Full (2002)

R | 97 min | Action, Crime, Drama

49 Metascore

A young man from Harlem, forced to cope with the 1980s drug scene, builds an illegal empire, only to have a crisis of conscience.

Director: Charles Stone III | Stars: Mekhi Phifer, Wood Harris, Chi McBride, Kevin Carroll

Votes: 10,446 | Gross: $3.04M

15. House Party (1990)

R | 100 min | Comedy, Music, Romance

76 Metascore

Kid decides to go to his friend Play's house party, but neither of them can predict what's in store for them on what could be the wildest night of their lives.

Director: Reginald Hudlin | Stars: Christopher Reid, Robin Harris, Christopher Martin, Martin Lawrence

Votes: 12,884 | Gross: $26.39M

16. Harlem Nights (1989)

R | 116 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

16 Metascore

During the 1930s, a New York City illegal gambling house owner and his associates must deal with strong competition, gangsters, and corrupt cops in order to stay in business.

Director: Eddie Murphy | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Danny Aiello

Votes: 19,957 | Gross: $60.86M

17. Juice (1992)

R | 95 min | Action, Crime, Drama

60 Metascore

Four inner-city teenagers get caught up in the pursuit of power and happiness, which they refer to as "the juice".

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson | Stars: Omar Epps, Tupac Shakur, Jermaine Hopkins, Khalil Kain

Votes: 23,506 | Gross: $20.15M

18. 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: 6,862 | Gross: $43.49M

19. Set It Off (1996)

R | 123 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Desperation drives four inner-city women to bank robbery in Los Angeles, then they start mistrusting each other.

Director: F. Gary Gray | Stars: Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise

Votes: 13,902 | Gross: $36.05M

20. South Central (1992)

R | 98 min | Crime, Drama

64 Metascore

A former gangster fresh out of prison wants to change his life for the better and must save his 10 year old son who has already chosen a gang life.

Director: Stephen Milburn Anderson | Stars: Glenn Plummer, Byron Minns, Lexie Bigham, Vincent Craig Dupree

Votes: 4,978 | Gross: $1.37M

21. The Five Heartbeats (1991)

R | 121 min | Drama, Music

The story of the rise and fall of an African American vocal group.

Director: Robert Townsend | Stars: Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon, Harry Lennix

Votes: 3,676 | Gross: $8.75M

22. What's Love Got to Do with It (1993)

R | 118 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The story of singer Tina Turner's rise to stardom and how she gained the courage to break free from her abusive husband, Ike Turner.

Director: Brian Gibson | Stars: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, RaéVen Kelly, Virginia Capers

Votes: 16,687 | Gross: $39.10M

23. King of New York (1990)

R | 103 min | Crime, Thriller

66 Metascore

A drug kingpin is released from prison and seeks to take total control of the criminal underworld in order to give back to the community.

Director: Abel Ferrara | Stars: Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Victor Argo

Votes: 31,243 | Gross: $2.55M

24. 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: 18,167 | Gross: $27.44M

25. Malcolm X (1992)

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

73 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: 83,819 | Gross: $48.17M

26. Deep Cover (1992)

R | 107 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

A uniformed cop is recruited by a drug enforcement agent to infiltrate a drug smuggling ring looking to expand its operation.

Director: Bill Duke | Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum, Lira Angel, René Assa

Votes: 8,691 | Gross: $16.64M

27. Belly (1998)

R | 96 min | Crime, Drama

Two young friends involved in organized crime and drug dealing find that their priorities differ.

Director: Hype Williams | Stars: Nas, DMX, Taral Hicks, Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins

Votes: 9,182 | Gross: $9.63M

28. Dead Presidents (1995)

R | 119 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A Vietnam vet adjusts to life after the war while trying to support his family, but the chance of a better life may involve crime and bloodshed.

Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes | Stars: Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker, Freddy Rodríguez

Votes: 19,365 | Gross: $24.20M

29. Class Act (1992)

PG-13 | 98 min | Comedy

A valedictorian and a juvenile delinquent have their school records switched and begin to be treated like the other.

Director: Randall Miller | Stars: Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin, Andre Rosey Brown, Meshach Taylor

Votes: 6,831 | Gross: $13.27M

30. Hustle & Flow (2005)

R | 116 min | Crime, Drama, Music

68 Metascore

With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis attempts to become a successful hip-hop emcee.

Director: Craig Brewer | Stars: Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning

Votes: 38,256 | Gross: $22.20M

31. Fresh (1994)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

81 Metascore

Death and violence anger a twelve-year-old drug courier, who sets his employers against each other.

Director: Boaz Yakin | Stars: Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, N'Bushe Wright

Votes: 11,976 | Gross: $8.09M

32. Hoodlum (1997)

R | 130 min | Crime, Drama

50 Metascore

Black gangsters in 1930 Harlem fights Dutch Schultz who is trying to horn in on their numbers racket.

Director: Bill Duke | Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams, Andy Garcia

Votes: 10,410 | Gross: $23.46M

33. Hurricane Season (2009)

PG-13 | 102 min | Drama, Sport

A year after Hurricane Katrina, Al Collins, a high school basketball coach in Marrero, Louisiana, assembles a team of players who had previously attended five different schools before the ... See full summary »

Director: Tim Story | Stars: Forest Whitaker, Isaiah Washington, Shad Moss, Courtney B. Vance

Votes: 2,640

34. Bad Boys (1995)

R | 119 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

41 Metascore

Two hip detectives protect a witness to a murder while investigating a case of stolen heroin from the evidence storage room from their police precinct.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Lisa Boyle, Michael Taliferro

Votes: 236,214 | Gross: $65.81M

35. Foxy Brown (1974)

R | 92 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

46 Metascore

A voluptuous black vigilante takes a job as a high-class prostitute in order to get revenge on the mobsters who murdered her boyfriend.

Director: Jack Hill | Stars: Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Peter Brown, Terry Carter

Votes: 9,027 | Gross: $2.46M

36. In Too Deep (1999)

R | 95 min | Crime, Thriller, Drama

53 Metascore

Jeff Cole is a recent graduate of the Cincinnati police academy who dreams of working undercover. His wish is granted and through success is given the task of taking down state-wide crack ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Rymer | Stars: Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Nia Long, Stanley Tucci

Votes: 5,759 | Gross: $14.00M

37. CB4 (1993)

R | 89 min | Comedy, Music

49 Metascore

A guy makes a documentary of the rap band CB4 by following them. CB4 got popular by stealing Gusto's name, background and image. He wants them dead.

Director: Tamra Davis | Stars: Chris Rock, Allen Payne, Deezer D, Chris Elliott

Votes: 8,658 | Gross: $17.95M

38. Major Payne (1995)

PG-13 | 95 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

34 Metascore

A recently discharged Major finds himself commanding a group of mismatched Cadets.

Director: Nick Castle | Stars: Damon Wayans, Michael Ironside, Bam Bam Bigelow, Joseph Blaire

Votes: 30,154 | Gross: $29.41M

39. Life (I) (1999)

R | 108 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

63 Metascore

In 1932, two strangers are wrongfully convicted and develop a strong friendship in prison that lasts them through the 20th century.

Director: Ted Demme | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Obba Babatundé, Nick Cassavetes

Votes: 44,870 | Gross: $63.84M

40. Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996)

R | 89 min | Comedy, Crime

A parody of several U.S. films about being in the 'Hood', for instance Boyz n the Hood (1991), South Central (1992), Menace II Society (1993), Higher Learning (1995) and Juice (1992).

Director: Paris Barclay | Stars: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Tracey Cherelle Jones

Votes: 47,271 | Gross: $20.11M

41. All About the Benjamins (2002)

R | 95 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

34 Metascore

Bounty hunter Bucum chases bail-jumper Reggie, who runs right into the scene of a diamond heist and murder and gets shot at as well. Later they become partners in their pursuit of the $20M in diamonds and lottery ticket. Their women join.

Director: Kevin Bray | Stars: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Tommy Flanagan, Carmen Chaplin

Votes: 12,462 | Gross: $25.48M

42. Krush Groove (1985)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

37 Metascore

The story of a man who has started a new hip-hop/rap label called Krush Groove.

Director: Michael Schultz | Stars: Sheila E., Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, Jam Master Jay

Votes: 2,789 | Gross: $11.05M

43. Paper Soldiers (2002)

R | 88 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

Paper Soldiers follows an overeager burglar named Shawn (Kevin Hart) through the ups and downs of his short, stressful career. Already on parole but faced with the power being turned off ... See full summary »

Directors: David Daniel, Damon Dash | Stars: Kevin Hart, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, Jay-Z

Votes: 1,141

44. I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)

R | 88 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

48 Metascore

In this parody of blaxploitation movies, a black hero wannabe reunites former black heroes from the 70s to help him get revenge on Mr. Big.

Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans | Stars: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, Steve James

Votes: 12,105 | Gross: $13.03M