In the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in the quality of films featuring black leads. 2019 did not disappoint with movies like The Upside, Us, Dolemite Is My Name, Shaft, and Queen & Slim. Releases for 2020 are already showing that they plan to continue this trend with films across many different genres. From biopics to horror to sci-fi thrillers and romantic comedies, this year is sure to attract even more attention to the talents of many black actors, producers, and directors, as well as showcase the value of representation on the big screen. Here are 10 of the many Black films we can’t wait to see this year.
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Bad Boys for Life
It’s been a long wait, but after 17 years, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence finally reprise their roles as our favorite Miami PD officers - Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. The highly anticipated Bad Boys For Life hits theaters on January 17, and we could not be happier!
With his baby girl married, Marcus is ready to retire for good. Or so he thought. Once again he gets pulled in to help Mike with one last job. With the help of a new, younger team, the dynamic duo set out to take down the leader of the Miami drug cartel, Armando Armas. In traditional Bad Boys style, this movie is sure to deliver the laughs and high action that will leave you satisfied.
Coming 2 America
Make way for Prince Akeem! That’s right – thirty-two years after hitting the big screen in 1988, Coming to America is giving us a sequel. Scheduled to be released at the end of this year, Coming 2 America is sure to be full of laughs. The best part – the whole cast is back! Eddie Murphy, Shari Headley, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Vanessa Bell Calloway and more reprise their beloved roles as we head back to Zamunda where Prince Akeem learns he has a long-lost son in America.
As they travel to meet this unlikely heir, you can expect hilarious scenes among the legendary cast and some other familiar faces, such as Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan, and Leslie Jones. Directed by Dolemite Is My Name’s Craig Brewer, Coming 2 America is bound to be a new classic for today’s generation.
Based on a true story, The Banker stars Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie as Joe Morris and Bernard Garrett Sr., two black entrepreneurs who develop a plan to battle real estate inequality and help other black Americans in the process. To aid in their mission, they enlist the help of a young white man, played by actor Nicholas Hoult, that they train to act as the face of their organization, while they pose as a janitor and chauffeur.
Even though the government eventually caught on to their schemes, these savvy businessmen became two of the first African Americans bankers in United States history. Set in the 1950s and 60s, The Banker is a great film highlighting the remarkable lives and achievements of black men.
Trailers are often faulted for giving away too much information. This cannot be said for Antebellum. Antebellum is about...well, we’re not exactly sure. The not knowing, however, is the driving force of the curiosity and buzz surrounding this film.
Previously acting in supporting roles, new-wave R&B artist Janelle Monae stars as the lead protagonist, an author named Veronica who, from what we can tell, is caught up in a mind-bending mystery that she nor the audience can understand. Bouncing back between the now and an alternate southern goth reality, this horror-thriller from the producers of Get Out and Us features a diverse cast and a lot of suspense. We’re looking forward to major surprises as we finally learn what Antebellum is all about when it premiers this spring.
Some of us have never looked in a mirror the same after watching the ‘90s horror classic, Candyman. A new generation will now be able to embrace the nightmares as Jordan Peele remakes the horror with Watchmen star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the new Candyman.
While we can assume that the premise will be the same: look in the mirror, say his name five times and the Candyman will appear, Peele never makes a film without underlying themes. This time, the film is said to touch on the issues surrounding toxic fandom. No trailer has been released but we can expect an appearance from the original Candyman, Tony Todd, in addition to Teyonah Parris (If Beale Street Could Talk), Colman Domingo (Euphoria) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Misfits).
Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson headlines as the Queen of Soul in the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. Unlike other unauthorized biographies, Franklin was involved with this film and personally chose Hudson for the role. Much like Aretha Franklin, J Hud is also known for her powerhouse vocals which she’s demonstrated both on and off the screen. The film will follow Aretha’s rise from the streets of Detroit to international stardom. We get a glimpse into what Hudson will bring to the role in the sneak peek where the singer belts out the Franklin classic, “Respect.”
Academy Award winner Winner Forest Whitaker will play Franklin’s father and civil rights, activist preacher. Academy Award nominee Mary J Blige is cast to play Dinah Washington and Marlon Wayans will play Franklin’s first husband, Ted White.
This sci-fi thriller filled with espionage has us already scratching our heads, which is normal for a Christopher Nolan film. So far, we know that John David Washington’s character chooses to die instead of giving up his colleagues. As a result, he’s welcomed into this organization known as the Afterlife, which uses time travel to manipulate the world in order to keep it safe. Washington will be tasked to stop WWIII from occurring. It’s unclear what exactly a tenet is but maybe that’s the point. To steal a line from the trailer, “Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.”
Based on the African-American folk tale of the same name, John Henry is Terry Crews’ debut in a lead role. The original tale centers on a steel driver who won a race against a machine and died with his hammer still in his hand.
In this adaptation, John Henry’s past life resurfaces when he steps in to defend two immigrant children running from the leader of a Los Angeles gang, played by hip hop artist Ludacris. While this won’t be the only John Henry film we can expect to see this year, Crews is sure to put his own spin on the role that should be enjoyable to watch.
Calling all lovers! Celebrate black love with The Photograph, a romantic comedy being released just in time for Valentine’s Day. Issa Rae plays Mae, a young woman who finds a black and white photo of her estranged mother and mother’s past lover in a safety deposit box after her mother’s death. The discovery of the photograph is accompanied by a letter from her mother who talks about how pictures took up space in her heart instead of people.
LaKeith Stanfield plays a journalist interested in writing a story on her mom and in the process, falls for Mae. Mae is confronted by the fear of falling in love and through the photos her mother left behind, she is led down a journey to self-discovery.
Tyler Perry kicks off 2020 with a new thriller starring The Haves and Have Nots actor, Crystal Fox. Fox stars as Grace Waters, a divorcee still reeling from the dissolution of her marriage. One day, Grace meets a younger man who restores her hope in love (or so she thinks) until their marriage reveals new secrets that lead her to commit an unspeakable crime.
In true Tyler Perry fashion, this film is sure to have no shortage of drama. Co-starring Phylicia Rashad, Bresha Webb, Mehcad Brooks, Cicely Tyson, and Tyler Perry, the Netflix film is set to released later this month.