“Think Like a Man”
Year released: 2012
Streaming service: Netflix
Inspired by Steve Harvey’s 2009 book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” comes the star-studded comedy “Think Like a Man.” The cast features some of Black Hollywood’s biggest names such as Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union and more.
The film follows a close-knit group of men who turn the tables on the women in their lives when they discover the women are using parts of Harvey’s book to manipulate them. “Think Like a Man” is hilarious and the cast elevates the film with their on-screen chemistry and comedic timing.
Year released: 2020
Streaming service: HBO Max
Break out television stars Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield team up for “The Photograph,” a touching romantic dramedy set in New Orleans/New York.
In the film, Issa Rae plays Mae, who is grappling with the death of her estranged mother. When she retrieves an old photograph hidden in a safety deposit box, it triggers an investigation into her mother’s life and past relationships, eventually leading her into the arms of a young journalist named Michael (Lakeith Stanfield).
The film works as a double love story as they flash back to the 1980s to tell the story of Mae’s parents while jumping to the present to tell Micheal and Mae’s story. Rae and Stanfield’s portrayal of the couple is magical. In addition to the amazing acting, the film also has a beautiful soundtrack consisting of romantic jazz tracks elevating the film’s vibe. If you are a fan of passionate love stories, “The Photograph” is perfect for you.
“Beyond the Lights”
Year released: 2014
Streaming service: Amazon Prime Video
Relativity Media’s romantic drama “Beyond the Lights” is a must-see for fans of music-based dramas such as Mick Jackson’s “The Bodyguard” and Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born.” The film follows pop star Noni Jean (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is on the brink of superstardom. The pressure from industry executives and her overbearing momager drives her to attempt suicide by jumping off a hotel balcony. A young police officer named Kaz is called to the scene and convinces Noni not to end her life. As the media catches wind of the incident, Noni’s team convinces Kaz to pretend the incident was an accident, to Kaz’s dismay.
As the two grow closer, Kaz discovers Noni is different from the public persona she is forced to portray by her record label. After Noni shares a journal of songs rejected by her label, Kaz pushes her to challenge her label and release the music she is passionate about. “Grateful,” a song featured in the film, was nominated for “Best Original Song” at the 87th Academy Awards.
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
Year released: 2018
Streaming service: Hulu
Oscar nominated director Kenya Barris’ 2018 romantic drama film “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a touching story about a young Black couple set in the 1970s. The film is based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name. Kiki Layne and Stephan James as Tish and Fonny are incredible. They have undeniable chemistry.
The film was a critical and financial success and grossed $20 million at the box office worldwide. It earned three nominations at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, including nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, for which King took home the award. It was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score ,with King taking home an award for Best Supporting Actress.
Year released: 2016
Streaming Service: Netflix
“Moonlight” was one of the breakout hits at the 2017 Academy Awards, taking home awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film, which was inspired by the short play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, follows the story of a young Black man named Chiron, who is grappling with his identity and sexuality. During the film you follow Chiron though three defining chapters of his life – his adolescence, teenage years and young adult life. In each of the chapters, he struggles with his mother’s addiction, his peers’ impressions of him and his romantic feelings toward his friend Kevin. In each chapter Chiron finds love and support from a new person in his life as he tries to learn to accept his sexuality.
Writer and director of the film Barry Jenkins does a great job of telling and portraying the message of this film despite its lack of a heavy plotline.