2023 was a fantastic year for Black people in film. We saw Black leads in Summer blockbusters like The Little Mermaid and Across the Spiderverse, and Black directors dominated social media conversations with hits like They Cloned Tyrone and The Blackening. But with so many good movies coming out this year, there are sure to be a few gems that fall by the waistside. So to end the year off right, here 5 great Black movies that you might’ve missed during 2023.

Outlaw Johnny Black

Micheal Jai White is back with a soft sequel to his 2009 cult classic film Black Dynamite. Much like its predecessor, Outlaw Johnny Black is a spoof of old blaxploitation films, except this time it comes with a Western twist. White produces, directs, and stars in this funny spoof of an old cowboy tale of revenge. Much of the same raw and uncensored sense of humor from the previous film can be found here, along with the same fun and high-energy action scenes. If you liked the ’09 film you’re bound to like this one too. It’s a comedy worth renting on streaming and watching for pure laughs.

Earth Mama

A24 dropped another well put together project this year with the film Earth Mama. Written and directed by Savanah Leaf, Earth Mama is a deeply thought-out and interesting take on the classic Black narrative of a single mother fighting for stability and the future of her children. Instead of 90 minutes of trauma porn with a sermon at the end, Leaf tells a story of a young woman wrestling against the system, financial stress, and her own personal demons. The movie really dives deep into the reality of a person in a situation like this and explores the mindset and the limited options in their life. The film is fantastic but very heavy. It’s not something you’ll rewatch a lot, but it’s something that everyone should watch at least once.

The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster

This movie has all the markings of a future cult classic. The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is a great retelling of Mary Ann Shelly’s Frankenstein through a modern Black lens. Directed by Bomani J Story, the movie a young Black girl named Vicaria who, after losing her mother and older brother, dedicates her life to curing the disease known as death. The classic themes of hubris, ambition, and humanity from the original novel are explored in this film. At the same time, grief and love play a heavy role in this iteration’s story and really separate Vicaria and her monster from all the rest. If you’re a fan of horror, family-centric films, and early 20th-century monster movies, you should definitely give this one a try.

South to Black Power

What if Black people took over the South? That’s the question author and columnist Charles M. Blow asks in his HBO documentary South to Black Power. Based on his 2021 book The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto, Blow takes a look at Black people’s current frustration with American politics and suggests that the solution is for descendants of the Great Migration to return to the southern states where the Black population is highest. He breaks down his strategy of becoming a racial majority in some of these states and seizing political power through sheer numbers. Blow interviews several Black people who have already made the move and analyses the personal pros and cons for anyone considering relocating in hopes of turning the tide. Whether you end up agreeing with Blow’s plan or not, his documentary is an interesting and thought-provoking watch.

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Rustin

There are many unsung heroes of the Civil Rights era, and Bayard Rustin is without a doubt one of the most overlooked. This historical drama from Netflix tells Rustin’s story of being a gay Black man fighting for equality while facing discrimination from foes and so-called allies alike. The film features a star-studded cast that includes Chris Rock, Jeffery Wright, CCH Pounder, and Colman Domingo who plays the title character. The cast and crew assemble to tell the fantastic story of his political contributions and his personal struggles. The film does a good job showcasing just how similar Black and LGBTQ issues are, and how much it hurts both causes when one side tries to exclude the other from the fight for equality. If you’re already familiar with the life and work of Bayard Rustin, then this film is the biopic you’ve been waiting for. And if you’ve never heard of the activist, this is a great way to learn about his story.

What did you think of our list? Is there a movie you feel should’ve been on our list? Let us know in the comments below and on our social media!

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