By skin color: 20 films about racism

What, if not a movie, helps to go beyond your limits and immerse yourself in the reality of another person? Films about racism allow you to put on darker skin and look at the situation with new eyes. Civil unrest in the United States showed that the last pages of the history of racism have not yet been written, and a happy ending in the best traditions of Hollywood is not yet in sight. The magic of the screen will make it easier for our viewers to understand why the Black Lives Matter movement began and what modern racial discrimination looks like.

United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)

The novelty of American cinema tells about the blues legend Billie Holiday. She has an incredible voice and a tragic fate. The girl sings a forbidden song about lynching over and over again, so the authorities declare war on her. The singer is targeted by the Drug Enforcement Administration . An operation led by Jimmy Fletcher begins. During the operation, a stormy romance breaks out between the artist and the agent . The film received mixed reviews – harsh criticism of the script and direction, and praise for the acting of Andra Day, who played the title role.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original Title :
The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Genre:
Drama, biography, music

Actors:
Andra Day, Leslie Jordan, Miss Lawrence…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.7, IMDb – 6.3

Age restrictions:
18+


Judas and the Black Messiah (2020)

This new film about racial discrimination has become a kind of biblical story superimposed on real events. The plot tells about a black guy who broke the law. William agrees to take on an undercover FBI assignment to avoid punishment. The goal of the “mole” is to ingratiate himself with the radical opposition leader Fred Hampton, the leader of the Black Panthers. British actor Daniel Kaluuya, who played Hampton, the victim of betrayal, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Original title:
Judas and the Black Messiah

Genre:
Biography, drama, history, crime

Actors:
Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Jesse Plemons…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Antebellum (2020)

The main character of the thriller is writer and ardent black rights activist Veronica Henley. One day, a woman wakes up to a shocking reality – she falls into the body of a slave, Eden, who picks cotton on a plantation during the Civil War. Slaves are forbidden to talk to each other, and for any misconduct, slaves are subjected to torture. Inhuman sentences are carried out by Confederate soldiers. Together with other unfortunate Veronica-Eden decides to escape, for which you can pay with your life.

Original title:
Antebellum

Genre:
Thriller, drama

Actors:
Janelle Monet, Marque Richardson II, Eric Lange …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.8, IMDb – 5.7

Age restrictions:
18+


Best Enemies (2019)

In a small town in North Carolina, after a school fire , the question of the need for joint education of white and black students is acute. To solve the problem, a commission is created from representatives of both races. Two co-chairs of the community council – a Ku Klux Klan activist and a fighter for the rights of the colored population – must reach a compromise for the sake of their own children. It’s worth watching how a Ku Klux Klansman and a black human rights activist learn to find common ground in a dramatic film about racists based on a true story.

Original title:
The Best of Enemies

Genre:
Drama, biography, history

Actors:
Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, Babu Sisey …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:
12+


Just Mercy (2019)

Terrible news shocked the city – an 18-year-old girl was killed. Thanks to the testimony of witnesses, law enforcement agencies quickly find the criminal – a black worker nicknamed Johnny Dee. The man is sentenced to capital punishment and awaits death in a cell. At this time, Harvard graduate Brian Stevenson decides to stand up for those who do not have the means for a qualified lawyer, and this will become his life’s work. And the first person he tries to help is Johnny, a victim of racism and police bias.

Original title:
Just Mercy

Genre:
Drama, crime, biography

Actors:
Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.6

Age restrictions:
18+


Banker (2019)

The drama that formed the basis of the biopic about racial segregation played out in the United States in the 1950s. Two enterprising African Americans Joe Morris and Bernard Garrett set up a thriving real estate agency. However, in those years, whites did not want to do any business with blacks, so businessmen hire Matt Steiner, a fair-skinned friend, as a director, while they themselves pretend to be attendants. How long will men manage to hide this secret? And what happens if they are exposed?

Original title:
The Banker

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Green Book (2018)

The Oscar-winning comedy with a high rating, behind the ironic lightness of which lies a deep meaning, was included in the list of the best films about human dignity, true friendship and mutual assistance between people. For a long trip, sophisticated black musician-intellectual Don Shirley hires an Italian with racist prejudices as a driver and bodyguard . Tony, nicknamed Chatterbox, is far from culture, but masterfully “works with his fists.” The tour should take place in the southern states, where segregation still rules the ball. This unusual trip will forever change the lives of both men.

Original title:
Green Book

Genre:
Biography, comedy, drama

Actors:
Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.4 IMDb – 8.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Black Klansman (2018)

The plot of the film about racism is based on real events and begins with one fateful announcement in the newspaper – the Ku Klux Klan is ready to accept new defenders of the white race into its ranks. Police detective Ron Stallworth simply could not help but take the chance to infiltrate a gang of racists. He responds to the ad, becomes a full member of the organization and regularly calls up the leader. But he can’t show up at meetings. The thing is, Ron is black.

Original title:
BlacKkKlansman

Genre:
Drama, crime

Actors:
John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Alien Hate (2018)

The film is based on the novel by Angie Thomas and highlights the theme of police brutality, bias and racism. High school student Starr witnesses a murder when a black man, her friend, is shot by a law enforcement officer. Starr Carter lives in the ghetto but goes to a white school . She has to pretend to become her own in a strange world. After the incident, the life of a schoolgirl changes dramatically. She decides to tell the truth – after all, she is the only one who saw how everything happened. The event causes a huge public outcry and tests the strength of the teenager himself .

Original title:
The Hate U Give

Genre:
Drama, crime

Actors:
Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
18+


If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

This movie about racism is an adaptation of the book by James Baldwin, which shows the problems of racial inequality and an unjust legal system against the backdrop of a light love story. Trish and Fonnie are young and madly in love, they are preparing for the wedding and choose a joint apartment. But their dream is shattered in an instant. Fonny is accused of a crime he did not commit – the rape of a white girl. All this takes place in the 70s, when the hopes of being justified on such a charge for a black man were illusory.

Original title:
If Beale Street Could Talk

Genre:
Drama, melodrama

Actors:
Kiki Lane, Stephen James, Regina King…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
18+


Get Out (2017)

Meeting the parents of your passion is always an exciting event. And for a simple black photographer from New York, doubly so. After all, his beloved comes from a family belonging to an elite society. An inter-ethnic couple goes to a dinner party at the family’s country estate. The witty mystical thriller about racial paranoia was director Jordan Peele’s debut film, grossing over $255 million on a total budget of just $4.5 million, and really managed to surprise viewers with a bold new idea.

Original title:
Get Out

Genre:
Thriller, horror, detective

Actors:
Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener …

Country:
USA, Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.7

Age restrictions:
18+


Marshall (2017)

Continues our top biopic on the fight against racism, inspired by a story of courage and true dedication. The plot is based on a real case from the judicial practice of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American in the US Supreme Court. Early in his career, a man joins forces with a young Jewish lawyer to defend a black driver accused of sexually harassing an employer.

Original title:
Marshall

Genre:
Drama, crime, biography, history

Actors:
Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson…

Country:
USA, China, Hong Kong

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Hidden Figures (2016)

The film is based on a documentary book by Margot Lee Shetterly. Against the backdrop of racial prejudice, when an African-American woman with unique mathematical abilities cannot go to the same toilet with white employees, use the same boiler and get a position worthy of her mind, three friends were able to prove by deed that great things should and can be done with the participation of all races. The film tells about these brave women from NASA and their contribution to the preparation of the first American space flight .

Original title:
Hidden Figures

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monet, Kevin Costner …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.8

Age Limits :
12+


Fences (2016)

This drama, full of life dialogues, is not a typical film about racial hatred, but a story about the restrictions that a person himself introduces into his own destiny, making his loved ones hostage. Troy Maxson was once successful in baseball, but his further career did not work out, and now he works as a scavenger. But he has a wonderful wife and two healthy sons. A man is trying with all his might to provide a family with a livelihood, protecting them from injustice in very peculiar ways.

Original title:
Fences

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson …

Country:
USA, Canada

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
12+


Loving (2016)

In the middle of the 20th century, the state of Virginia still had a law prohibiting interracial marriages. The film will tell the story of a married couple who broke this law and were convicted, but decided to fight to the end for love. Together, the dark-skinned girl Mildred and the simple white guy Richard will go through many trials, but the most significant for them will be the lawsuit that changed the constitution of the United States of America.

Original title:
Loving

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, biography

Actors:
Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Nick Kroll…

Country:
UK, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 7.0

Age restrictions:
16+


Willpower (2016)

The hero of the film about racism and big sport is the legendary track and field athlete Jesse Owens. The black athlete won four top awards at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, where Adolf Hitler was at the stadium, which saddened his triumph, according to contemporaries. The sports drama will tell about the path the guy went to get the gold medals, what trials he had to face, and how the racial segregation of that time affected his fate.

Original title:
Race

Genre:
History, sports, drama, biography

Actors:
Stefan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Gori …

Country:
Canada, Germany, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
16+


Selma (2014)

The plot of the film takes viewers to 1965, when racism flourished in America, and various social bills made black citizens outcasts of society. At this time, human rights activist Martin Luther King is waging a real war with the president and holding a protest march in Selma. And while Luther King is trying to convey the problems of segregation to the government, civilians are dying around. These tragic events will be told in a historical drama full of dishonest politicians , brutal cops and soulless whites.

Original title:
Selma

Genre:
Drama, biography, history

Actors:
David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson …

Country:
UK, USA, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
12+


42 (2013)

Jackie Robinson is a real legend of baseball, and for the black population – also a symbol of struggle and freedom. Schools, stadiums, hospitals and streets are named after him. His face is featured on stamps and commemorative coins. The film tells about the life of an outstanding person who, thanks to his perseverance and brilliant achievements, managed to step over stereotypes, prejudice and hatred. Number 42 is the number that Jackie used to play, assigned to him forever, as a symbol of an America free from racism.

Original title:
42

Genre:
Sports, drama, biography

Actors:
Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Bahari …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
12+


Fruitvale (2013)

The debut work of director Brian Coogler, which received high ratings, is a film about modern racism, which tells about high-profile events in Oakland. On January 1, 2009, a simple 22-year-old boy Oscar, along with his girlfriend and friends, collided with the police at the subway station. The dramatic incident made the man the hero of criminal chronicles and led to mass demonstrations, a wide public outcry, riots and the resignation of many servants of the law.

Original title:
Fruitvale Station

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, crime, biography

Actors:
Michael B. Jordan, Meloni Diaz, Kevin Duran, Octavia Spencer …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Help (2011)

USA, 60s. In the southern states, racism is not losing ground. Urban areas, shops, schools – everything is divided into zones for colored and whites. Most African Americans work as servants for pennies. At this time, a young girl Skeeter returns to the town of Jackson after studying at the university. She is smart, ambitious and full of hope to do something worthwhile. Together with a dark-skinned servant, Skeeter decides to take a bold step – to write a truthful book on behalf of the servants, so that everyone knows what is really going on behind the beautiful facades and neat lawns.

Original title:
The Help

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.2, IMDb – 8.0

Age Limits :
12+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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