All The Black-Led Films That Did It For The Culture In 2019 (So Far)

Culture & Entertainment

We're officially halfway through 2019, and while plenty of great movies are still scheduled to premiere--like Disney's Lion King or the highly anticipated Luce--the year has delivered an array of great, black-led movies. Many of which can be an instant fave for any movie-goer. From superhero stories and teen thrillers to movies about basketball players and eye-opening documentaries, films this year have shown that not only are they capable of having captivating black leads, but they are capable of telling some groundbreaking stories, too.

What's also groundbreaking is the fact that rather than in your local theater, most of these films can be found on streaming platforms in the comfort of your own home. And while all of them might not be your cup of tea, the top black led-movies of 2019 so far all have one thing in common: they're pioneering, original, and worth every second of your time.

Here are the top nine black-led movies of 2019, where you can find them, and reasons why you should.

See You Yesterday, Netflix

Tribeca Film Institute

What can be said about See You Yesterday that already hasn't been said? The movie's cinematography is enough to entice you, but the story is more than enough to make you stay. Following sixteen-year-old Claudette "CJ" Walker, the story of See You Yesterday tells of two science prodigies who travel back in time to save CJ's older brother from dying at the hands of police. Along the way CJ and friends encounter problem after problem, discovering the truth of the police brutality that we are all afraid to say. Despite teaching our black brothers and sisters what to do and what not to do at the hands of cops, it isn't them who really need to change. It's society itself. And until that happens, we will all be seeing each other, in some way or form, continuously living the problems of yesterday. With outstanding performances by Stro, Eden Duncan-Smith, and Dante Crichlow, this movie is certainly a must watch for 2019.

High Flying Bird, Netflix

Peter Andrews/Netflix

Three years ago, EuropaCorp released a film titled Miss Sloane about a lobbyist who has been called to appear at a congressional hearing, to answer questions about possible violations of Senate ethic rules. The movie was written to have sharp dialogue, even sharper characters, and it was meant to tell a story of a world unfamiliar to us. But when it premiered, it fell flat. The characters weren't real. The dialogue and characters were so sharp that it completely severed the audience from the story; and although the political world of lobbyist was unfamiliar, we couldn't care less about it or the people in it. High Flying Bird is really similar to Miss Sloane. The only difference: High Flying Bird gets it right.

Following sports agent Ray Burke, High Flying Bird takes us into the world of the NBA during the lock-down. It tells about the importance of an NBA player's talent, their charisma, their public image, and how difficult it can be to manage the three harmoniously. The characters are razor sharp, revealing the concerns that define the modern athlete while also remaining wickedly entertaining at the same time. The dialogue welcomes you into the world but doesn't seclude you. And the story gets more and more interesting as the minutes add up to the final one. With appearances from actual NBA players and top-notch performances from their all-star cast, High Flying Bird, shows that there are innumerable ways to be witty, innovative, and entertaining. Plus, the whole damn film was shot entirely on an iPhone 8. What could be better than that?

Us, Amazon and YouTube

Industrial Light & Magic/Universal Pictures

Anytime someone establishes an "us" there is a "them." And the "them" in this movie…well, they're "us," and that's truly something to be terrified of. Starring Black Panther and Yale alums, Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke, the story of Us follows Adelaide Wilson (Nyong'o), who returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Nevertheless, things spiral quickly—as they always do—when the family returns home and are acquainted with their very violent, very malicious doppelgängers. With Jeremiah's bible scripture, "Therefore this is what the Lord says: 'I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them," continuously rearing its ugly head, Peele tells a petrifying story of one of the biggest problems we face as a society: ourselves. And it's hard to escape a problem when we are unwilling to faithfully and diligently look in the mirror.

The Black Godfather, Netflix


Netflix's The Black Godfather accounts the exceptional and unlikely rise of Clarence Avant, a music executive whose cutting-edge behind-the-scenes accomplishments impacted the legacies of icons such as Bill Withers, Quincy Jones, Muhammad Ali, and Hank Aaron.

Driven by a sense of equality, loyalty, and justice, Avant left the Jim Crow south behind to emerge as a powerhouse negotiator at a time when deep-seated racism penetrated every corner of America. Avant defied notions of what a black executive could do, redefining the industry for entertainers and executives of color, and leaving a legacy of altruism for others to emulate.

Black Mother, Netflix


New York photographer Khalik Allah's Black Mother is littered with lyricism, spirituality, culture and history in this "vivid pictorial and philosophical journal" dedicated to Jamaica and its tough yet burdened women. Black Mother is a fresh piece of work in both how it progresses from shocking and gentle to chaotic and serene extremes, and how it's assembled like a scrapbook of remembrances.

​Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé, Netflix

Parkwood Entertainment/Parkwood Entertainment

I have no words.

I have absolutely no words.

The title alone should entice you enough to watch the documentary. However, if you're one of those people who need a little more before you select "play," here it goes: It's Beyoncé, doing Beyoncé, the only way Beyoncé can—pretty damn well.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Netflix

Ilze Kitshoff/Netflix

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind tells the true story of William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian genius who built a windmill to save his family and village from drought and famine. Written and directed by Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, the story of William Kamkwamba is an unforgettable child prodigy film that is much-needed for black children in 2019. The film is charming and ambitious and there's something disconcerting about rooting for a character to invent something that should have been easy to access in the first place—but Kamkwamba has will have your unshakable support the entire time.

Guava Island, Amazon

Amazon Studios

Filmed secretly in Cuba and released with little fanfare on Amazon, Guava Island is a musical-romance-thriller from the team behind FX's Atlanta, director Hiro Murai and Donald Glover. Cast as the man of the people, Glover plays Deni—a musician on Guava Island who wants to liberate his people and inevitably faces the consequences for such a life. With the supporting cast of musician and actress Rihanna, who plays his girlfriend Kofi, Guava Island showcases what it is like to have a dream and what happens when you face you do the right thing.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Select Movie Theaters

Peter Prato/A24

Awarded Best Director and the Special Jury Award from Sundance Film Festival, The Last Black Man in San Francisco tells the story of best friends, Jimmie and Mont, who are trying to reclaim the house built by Jimmie's grandfather. While trying to reclaim the house the duo revisit their past, test their friendship, and find a sense of belonging in the place they call home. Based on the life of star Jimmie Fails and the friendship of Fails and screenwriter Joe Talbot, Fails describes the movies as a "love story about [himself] and a house." Critically acclaimed for its cinematography and story, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is surely a movie to add to your must-watch list this year.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Everything You Need To Know About 'Us'

Here's A List Of Everything That's New & Black AF On Netflix This July

Everything We Learned From Beyonce's 'Homecoming'

Real-Life Teachers Share Their 'Abbott Elementary' Experiences

There’s an embarrassment of riches that comes with being a fan of ABC’s hit comedy Abbott Elementary. The show, which stars Quinta Brunson as Janine Teagues, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard, Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie, and Janelle James as Principal Ava Coleman, is about a group of mostly Black educators at a predominately Black elementary school in Philadelphia and has captured audiences for its tender, hilarious, and lighthearted depiction of what it's like to be a Black teacher to young Black students.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
10 Travel Destinations For A Perfect Winter Escape

Is the snow getting you down? Traveling during the holiday season could be the perfect winter escape that you've been looking for. According to a report by Business Wire, 53% of Americans are preparing to travel between December and February. Traveling during this time of year might be the reset your body needs before taking on the new year. From popular destinations to underrated locations, there is no shortage of places to visit and experience during this time of the year.

Keep reading...Show less
How To Answer Tough (But Common) Job Interview Questions

Landing a job interview is already a feat in itself, but actually getting through it feeling like you've won is a whole other issue. Whether it's a dream job that you want in order to take your career to the next level or that promotion at your current job, it's likely you'll be thrown a few curve balls by way of tough questions. They're often common and a tad basic, but they can bring about feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, or confusion.

Keep reading...Show less
Don't Miss These Epic Cyber Monday Deals By Black-Owned Brands

Many of us, at some point during this year, made it a point to be a bit more frugal and devote more dollars to that savings account in the name of adulting. But today isn't one of those days, sis! Cyber Monday is here, and the deals today are something serious! As we all know, Cyber Monday is the last opportunity to grab hold of the tremendous post-Thanksgiving sales right before the Christmas shopping season goes into full swing. It's the perfect time to take the plunge on pricier items that are finally on sale or to get the bulk of your end-of-year shopping in for a steal. The only thing that could be better than scoring an epic price slash on a dope haul is knowing you're supporting hard-working Black woman entrepreneurs in the process. After all, what's better than buying Black?

Whether you've got the bulk of your holiday gifts accounted for, or have barely made a dent in your shopping list, we can't stand to see you miss out on these incredible discounts being dished out by some of our favorite ElevateHer brands. From Uoma Beauty's epic 80% off sitewide discount to Forvr Mood's very rare candle sale, here's a list of all the best deals to get your hands on before Cyber Monday is out!

Uoma Beauty - Get Up To 80% Off The Entire Site, No Code Needed

Melanj Hair - Get Up To $60 Off Hair Extensions

Ami Colé - Use code "Holiday" for 20% sitewide.

Peak + Valley - Enjoy 25% off all products with code "blackfriday"

Salt.xo- Shop 40% Sitewide No Code Needed

Grace Eleyae - Buy One Get One Free on Apparel, Products, and Select Accessories

Milano Di Rouge - Get 25% Off Select Styles, No Code

Aseye Studio - Take 30% Off Sitewide For Cyber Monday

Sucré Couture - Up to 45% Off Sitewide

Andrea Iyamah - Take An Additional 25% Off

Forvr Mood - Enjoy 30% Off All Candles With Code "CyberMonday30"

Kingston Goods - Enjoy Free Standard Shipping + 50% off duvet covers with code COZYSZN

8 Kinds Of Sex Every Couple Should Have In Their Rotation

When it comes to sex, you can never have too many tricks up your sleeve. A long-term relationship can quickly become boring, and nothing kills desire faster than boredom. When people get comfortable in long-term relationships, they often lose their spark. Relationships are like monthly subscription services. You get the first month for free, but after that, you have to actually start investing in order to continue to reap the benefits.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts