9 must-see movies from Black directors to watch on Netflix right now

insider@insider.com (Andrew LaSane)
"Moonlight" is a critically-acclaimed film directed by Barry Jenkins.
"Moonlight" is a critically-acclaimed film directed by Barry Jenkins.

A24

  • Currently, there are a number of great films from Black directors that can be streamed on Netflix in the US.

  • Critics had plenty of praise for Ava DuVernay's "13th" (2016) and Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight" (2016).

  • Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods" (2020) and Dee Rees' "Mudbound" (2017) are both acclaimed films that are set in the past.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

With streaming services constantly adding new content and switching out titles, it can be tough to keep track of what to watch next. 

To help narrow down some of the options, here are nine of the best films from Black directors that you can stream right now. 

Note: All streaming service information was current on the date of publication and is subject to change. These films are available to stream on Netflix in the US but access may vary in other parts of the world. 

Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods" (2020) recently began streaming on Netflix.

"Da 5 Bloods" debuted on Netflix in June.
"Da 5 Bloods" debuted on Netflix in June.

Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

There are numerous projects by director Spike Lee streaming on Netflix, but his most recent film, "Da 5 Bloods," is a highlight. 

It tells the story of a group of Black war veterans who return to Vietnam in search of their squad leader's remains and the treasure they left behind. 

The film premiered on the streaming service on June 12, and it stars Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. 

As critic Marc Bernardin wrote for Entertainment Weekly, "Da 5 Bloods" is a "crackerjack drama, directed by a filmmaker who remains in total control of his once-in-a-generation gifts and utilizes them to synthesize story and history into something new."

Hailed as a near-perfect LGBTQ film, "Moonlight" (2016) was directed by Barry Jenkins.

Trevante Rhodes in "Moonlight."
Trevante Rhodes in "Moonlight."

A24

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98%

The best-picture winner at the 2017 Academy Awards, "Moonlight" was written and directed by Barry Jenkins. 

Based on the semi-autobiographical play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the film follows Chiron (Ashton Sanders) through three stages of his life as he deals with various forms of abuse and struggles to find himself.

It also stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali, Jharrel Jerome, and Naomie Harris.

Writing for The Denver Post, critic Lisa Kennedy called the film a "visual poem wrought of hard-won compassion and self-reckoning."
 

Ava DuVernay's "13th" (2016) is a powerful documentary about the US criminal-justice and prison system.

"13th" is a documentary film.
"13th" is a documentary film.

Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97%

"13th," directed by Ava DuVernay and named after the Constitutional amendment that abolished slavery in the US, is a documentary focused on the American criminal-justice system.

The documentary analyzes the American prison system and shows how a history of racism and inequality in the United States has resulted in a disproportionately large population of Black people behind bars. 

The film was nominated for an Academy Award and won several others, including a Peabody Award and an NAACP Image Award. 

"Malcolm X" (1992) is a revered biopic from director Spike Lee.

Malcolm X in 1963 (left) and Denzel Washington as Malcolm X (right).
Malcolm X in 1963 (left) and Denzel Washington as Malcolm X (right).

Hulton Archive/Getty Images and Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes critic score:88%

Directed by Lee and starring Denzel Washington as the titular character, "Malcolm X" is largely based on the activist's life as recounted in his autobiography that was co-written by Alex Haley.

The biopic was one of Lee's earliest films, and it stars Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., and "Da 5 Bloods" standout, Lindo.

Washington was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for his performance, and in 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

 

Directed by Dee Rees, "Mudbound" (2017) is a historical drama that critics love.

"Mudbound" has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
"Mudbound" has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards.

Steve Dietl/Sundance Insititute

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97%

Directed by Dee Rees, "Mudbound" stars Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, and Jonathan Banks.

It tells the story of two World War II veterans and their families (one Black and one white) who are connected through farming land in the Mississippi Delta, but who have different metaphorical dragons to slay and obstacles to overcome (namely, racism and PTSD).

The film premiered at Sundance in January 2017 and began streaming on Netflix later that year.

"Mudbound" has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including best supporting actress (Blige), best original song, best adapted screenplay, and best achievement in cinematography.

Ernest Dickerson's "Juice" (1992) has been praised for its characters and writing.

"Juice" is set in New York City.
"Juice" is set in New York City.

Paramount

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 79%

In the early 1990s, cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson co-wrote and directed the crime drama "Juice."

The film stars Omar Epps, Tupac Shakur, Khalil Kain, and Jermaine Hopkins as a group of high-school friends in New York City whose bond is broken and challenged after a robbery gone wrong.

Shakur was praised for his convincing acting as the villainous Bishop, and many critics praised the film's tension and well-written, morally ambiguous characters. 

"Quincy" (2018) tells the story of the famous music producer Quincy Jones. It was co-directed by his daughter, Rashida Jones.

Quincy Jones is famous for his work in the music industry.
Quincy Jones is famous for his work in the music industry.

Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 82% 

Directed by Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks, "Quincy" is a Netflix-released documentary about the life and work of legendary record producer, composer, and songwriter Quincy Jones.

With Quincy Jones as a guide, the film journeys through nearly nine decades of stories with many familiar faces and voices including Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Frank Sinatra, Steven Spielberg, Kendrick Lamar, and others.

"Quincy" won a Grammy for best music film in 2019. 

"Uncorked" (2020) is a coming-of-age film from director Prentice Penny.

"Uncorked" began streaming on Netflix in March.
"Uncorked" began streaming on Netflix in March.

Nina Robinson/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

Prentice Penny's "Uncorked" tells the story of Elijah, a young man with dreams to become a sommelier despite expectations that he will take over his family's barbecue business.

Starring Mamoudou Athie, Courtney B. Vance, Lashun Pollard, Michael Mobley, Robert Cox, and Niecy Nash, the film began streaming on Netflix in March.

As D. Watkins wrote for Salon, Penny "captures an energy that's far too common in modern culture in regards to what we pursue, why we pursue it, and the way we dream. We all should be paying attention."
 

"Atlantics" (2019) is Mati Diop's feature-length directorial debut.

"Atlantics" is a French film.
"Atlantics" is a French film.

Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

Director Mati Diop made history in 2019 when she became the first Black female director competing for the esteemed Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Her feature-length directorial debut, "Atlantics," is a French romantic drama starring Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, and Ibrahima Traoré.

Writing for The Atlantic, critic Hannah Giorgis called the film — which was set in the West African city Dakar — a "complex portrait of migration" that "deftly melds fantasy and romance." 

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