By Kristina Webb
In celebration of Black History Month, here’s a list of notable African-American films.
While some are historically significant, others represent ground-breaking performances by African-American actors and actresses.
After reading through the list, leave us a comment and share your favorite African-American film.
• The Color Purple (1985):
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and directed by Steven Spielberg, this film stars Whoopie Goldberg as Celie Harris, a young African-American woman who sustains abuse throughout her life.
Set in the early and mid-1900s, “The Color Purple” follows Celie from a childhood where she is sexually abused and impregnated by her father, to a marriage where she is physically and emotionally abused and treated as a slave.
Although nominated for 11 Academy Awards, it did not win any. Goldberg won a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
• Amistad (1997):
Set in 1839 and also directed by Spielberg, “Amistad” details a mutiny aboard a slave ship and the subsequent legal ramifications.
Featuring breathtaking performances by Djimon Hounsou, Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman, “Amistad” provides a glimpse into the legal system of the 1800s and how issues of slavery were handled.
• To Kill a Mockingbird (1962):
This film, based on the award-winning novel by Harper Lee, tells the story of Depression-era lawyer Atticus Finch and his family.
Finch, played by Gregory Peck, takes on the case of an African-American man, played by Brock Peters, who is unfairly accused of rape in their small town in Alabama. The racist attitude of the town is brought to light as Finch struggles to defend his client and keep his family safe.
• Malcolm X (1992):
Spike Lee directs this film about the life of African-American activist Malcolm X, portrayed by Denzel Washington.
After his father is killed by the Ku Klux Klan, he is put on a path that eventually leads to his becoming the face of the Nation of Islam and the anti-white movement.
However, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, he realizes the error of his ideology and converts to Sunni Islam.
Washington puts forth a phenomenal performance, and was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. However, he lost to Al Pacino.