List

Black History Month: Movies & TV

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

For Black History Month, we're highlighting staff-recommended movies and television written, produced, or directed by black creators.

  • Harriet

    2020

    Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet Tubman, delivering a knockout performance. She researched to find the right singing voice for the role and did many of her own stunts. Yes, Harriet is somewhat the action hero! Director Kasi Lemmons says that this biopic is a freedom story. Certainly, it is long overdue. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Dope

    2015

    Hilarious coming-of-age movie about a group of geeks I rooted for to win, even if it meant making some difficult choices. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • If Beale Street Could Talk

    2019

    Based on the 1974 novel by James Baldwin, Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), adapted the script and directs. The movie is lush, filmed with beautiful color tones. The score is lovely, the actors are superb, and the story is poignant and relevant to current issues. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Insecure: The Complete First Season

    2017

    This show is funny, heartbreaking, embraces awkward moments and insecurities, and has an incredible cast of actors. Recommended by Tiffany.

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  • Crooklyn

    1999

    A lovingly stylized and moving family drama that only Spike Lee could produce. Recommended by Adam.

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  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    2019

    Jimmie Fails co-wrote the script with his childhood friend and plays a version of himself in the movie. Gorgeous and poetic, it is a breakout film; one of the best of 2019. See it! Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Little

    2019

    Think of this as the flip side of the 1988 movie Big. Marsai Martin (from the TV series Black-ish) stars in the movie and thought of the story when she was 10 years old. She is also an executive producer of the movie. At age 13, she was the youngest person with a producer's credit on a mainstream movie. This is light and fun, with a talented cast. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

    2019

    This movie has a great message to believe in yourself, animation that pops off the screen, and awesome action scenes. It is a love letter to comic books with amusing references to previous Spider-man movies. This is one of the best, most creative, and fun animated movies I have seen in recent years. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Love & Basketball

    2000

    I cannot say enough positive things about this movie that redefined the idea of a sports flick. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Daughters of the Dust

    1999

    This movie is visually stunning; the layered story hooked me from the very first scene. Beyonce referenced this film in her visual album Lemonade, no doubt bringing a new audience to this cinematic masterpiece. File this under independent filmmaking, feminst stories, and National Film Registry inductee. It was the first feature movie directed by a black woman to receive general theatrical distribution in the U.S. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Creed

    2016

    Before he wrote and directed the phenomenal Black Panther, Coogler hit the mark with Creed. Working with Michael B. Jordan again (he was in the excellent Fruitvale Station, Coogler’s feature directorial debut), they created an awesome spin-off from the Rocky series, featuring the character Adonis Creed. There is much history here, with interesting new directions. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Brown Sugar

    2002

    A romantic comedy framed by an exploration of the moments hip-hop touched the main character's lives. I will always adore a Mos Def sidekick, not to mention one that pines for a Queen Latifah sidekick. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Sorry to Bother You

    2018

    A sci-fi comedy, a magical realism flick that pushes against the standard, set in an alternate present day version of Oakland. This is the directorial debut of rapper Boots Riley, and it audacious, clever, wacky, and wild. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Poetic Justice

    1998

    Janet Jackson. 2Pac. A love story set against the early '90s. Enough said. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Us

    2019

    Jordan Peele and Lupita Nyong'o are a Hollywood dream team! An amazing horror/social commentary flick, this makes a great double feature with Peele's previous movie, Get Out. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • A Band Called Death

    2013

    Before Bad Brains, there was Death. Whether or not you connect with punk rock, this is an unlikely and inspiring story about a band of brothers that all are sure to enjoy. Recommended by Adam.

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  • Love Jones

    1999

    A Chicago love story that has jazz, poetry, and a great '90s neo-soul soundtrack. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Do the Right Thing

    2009

    Radio Raheem's knuckles spell out the stakes in black and white, but this iconic film does everything it can to provide nuance to a hot summer afternoon in Bed-Stuy. Come for the Rosie Perez opener, stay for Mookie's indecision, and of course, simmer down with the smoothest roll call that ever was. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Girls Trip

    2017

    Certainly not a serious film, but it pushes at boundaries, fully committing to its premise and effectively hitting many comedic high notes. More than ever, hilarity ensues! Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Moonlight

    2017

    This isn't just a story about a child living on the fringe, or a man reckoning with his sexuality. This is also about the fragility and quiet beauty of connections made in dire, temporal spaces. How rare to find that, and even more rare to cherish and nurture it. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip

    1999

    Pryor at his best. A thrilling set, start to finish. Recommended by Adam.

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  • Just Mercy (DVD)

    2020

    Truly great performances and an important, emotional story that sticks close to the facts - I am perplexed as to why it did not get more attention during the awards season. This movie stays with you. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Selma

    2015

    Gorgeous visuals that start from the pivotal bombing of a church - an act of violence whose brutality isn't spared - frames this film and gives an urgency to everything that leads up to the pivotal march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • The Hate U Give

    2019

    One of my favorite YA books adapted for the big screen, a strong cast hits the mark. Not to be missed, especially for young activists. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Standing in the Shadows of Motown

    2003 by Funk Brothers

    Did you know that the Funk Brothers, Motown's session musicians, "played on more number one hits than the Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys COMBINED?!" (emphasis mine). Watch this to learn more. Narrated by Andre Braugher, which makes it even better. Recommended by Allyson.

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