By Vivian Ebiske
February is the month of love and celebrating Black excellence! So, why not combine the two and discuss some of the best Black movies to come out within the last two decades?
Love and Basketball (2000)
Love and Basketball is about two young basketball players (Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps) who have loved each other since they were children. Once they enter college, they finally give their love another chance since the first time they tried to date when they were kids didn’t quite work out. As they are starting their respective college basketball careers, Quincy (Omar Epps) is the star while Monica (Sanaa Lathan) is struggling to fit in. Eventually, Quincy is unfocused as he is dealing with issues at home, leading to the roles switching. Quincy develops resentment toward Monica because she’s “spending too much time on basketball” and not focusing on him. This leads to a huge breakup and loss of communication for years. A few years later, Monica comes back to visit Quincy after he sustained a sports injury and finds out that he’s about to get married. Monica must then determine if she should pursue her man or leave him forever.
To be frank, I’m not the biggest fan of this movie. I think it’s because everyone constantly overhypes it, which makes me not want to rewatch it. I think that there are movies that deserve more hype, like Deliver Us From Eva. Other than that, I think it’s a pretty good movie.
Deliver Us From Eva (2003)
Deliver Us From Eva is about a successful health inspector, Eva Dandridge (Gabrielle Union), who is incredibly blunt and not so easy to please. She usually takes her bluntness out on her sisters’ romantic partners, which has caused them to have resentment toward her over the years as her sisters would turn against them. Their partners decided to hire a well-known player, Ray (LL Cool J), to make her fall in love with him and break her heart. They believed that if she got her heart broken, Eva would want to move far away. Throughout the story, you will watch as Ray succeeds, but ends up falling for her as well, which leads to some unfortunate consequences.
This is, by far, one of my favorite movies! Gabrielle Union’s performance is amazing! The scene where she’s chewing out a restaurant owner after they ask her to overlook a health code violation is a testament to how much of a boss this woman is! I wish I had the confidence and finesse to be like Eva!
Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls (2007)
Daddy’s Little Girls follows Monty (Idris Elba), a well-known local mechanic, who is tasked to raise his three daughters (The McClain Sisters) by himself. One day, there is an incident that occurs that causes his daughters to be taken away from him by Child Protective Services. They are then placed into the hands of their ice-cold mother (Tasha Smith), who is the girlfriend of a local kingpin. With the help of Julia (Gabrielle Union), a big-shot lawyer, Monty gets his daughters back and falls in love with Julia.
One of my favorite parts of this movie is the dinner scene Julia had with a 40-year old struggling rapper. He completely embarrasses her with his poor etiquette and hilarious rap.
Why Did I Get Married? (2007)
Why Did I Get Married is about four couples who go on their annual marriage retreat. During their retreat, they uncover many problems within each relationship, particularly infidelity and fat-shaming. A particular couple that dealt with both issues was Mike (Richard T. Jones) and Sheila (Jill Scott). Once Mike’s infidelity was uncovered, Sheila had to get her life back together. With the help of a local law enforcement officer, Troy (Lamman Rucker), she lost weight and gained her confidence.
The best part of this movie was when Sheila made Mike look like a fool for leaving her at the end of the movie. This movie goes to show that, sometimes, you need to change your environment in order to improve yourself.
Think Like a Man (2012)
Think Like a Man is about a group of women who decide to use Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” as they navigate the dating scene. Once their romantic partners catch wind of this, they decide to get back at them by using the content of the book against them.
Though they have been in the industry for decades before this movie, Think Like a Man personally introduced me to many heavy-hitting Hollywood stars, like Taraji P. Henson, Michael Ealy, Megan Good, Romany Malco, Regina Hall, and Kevin Hart.
Think Like a Man deserved its success because of its humor brought by these actors mentioned. This would be one of the few romantic comedies that I would watch since many movies in that genre are incredibly corny.
Beyond the Lights (2014)
Beyond the Lights is about an up-and-coming R&B songstress, Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is tired of the mental and emotional taxes of fame, and attempts to jump off her hotel room balcony. Fortunately, she is saved by a local cop, Kaz (Nate Parker). From that moment on, they have an instant attraction toward each other and, eventually, fall in love. Throughout the movie, you will watch as they make each other better, but their “improved selves” are not welcome to either of their respective circles because it was not a part of the plan that their loved ones set for them.
Apart from the incredible plot and cinematography, the music was phenomenal! “Masterpiece” by Noni and her ex-boyfriend, Kid Culprit, is still on my playlist ‘til this day!
Moonlight is not necessarily about black love. It’s more about a young Black man discovering his sexuality through crushing on his long-time best friend. However, it is still a great movie! I think it’s great to see a movie about a Black man coming to terms with his gayness in an environment of hypermasculinity. There should be more movies with Black gay love! Along with the plot of the movie, the acting, cinematography, and editing are impeccable. There is a reason why they finessed that Oscar from La La Land!
Queen & Slim (2019)
Queen & Slim is about a couple who experienced a “first date gone wrong.” On their way from the restaurant, a police officer pulls them over. The traffic stop escalates, causing the officer to be shot. The couple are forced to be on the run to Cuba to avoid prosecution. You will watch as Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) travel to Florida to use a plane belonging to Queen’s uncle for their escape. During their journey, they will meet different types of people who will react to what they did to the police officer since it made national news.
I’m not a huge fan of the movie. There were just too many things that went unsolved in the film! Plus, some of the scenes were awkwardly edited together. I also hated the ending, which I will not disclose. Once you watch the ending, you’ll definitely understand.
Though I may not be a fan of some of these movies, I believe that all of the movies listed depict something that must always be reinforced: Black people are deserving of love. The Black community has been conditioned to focus on our struggles or accumulate as much money as possible. Sometimes, we never step back and think about love. And when we do, we believe that we’re not good enough to receive it. These movies will say otherwise.