50 best movies directed by a person of color

Written by:
June 4, 2021
New Regency Productions

50 best movies directed by a person of color

Racial equity and inclusion in Hollywood has a long way to go. Hollywood has historically favored white, male directors in the mainstream—in 2019, for instance, 80 percent of American films were directed by white men (even though they make up only a third of the United States population). While it will take decades of ongoing work to change systemic racism and make Hollywood more representationally diverse, there are encouraging signs that the status quo is slowly but surely changing.

Just look at the last few Academy Awards ceremonies: In 2021, Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to win Best Director for “Nomadland,” while Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” broke barriers by becoming the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture in 2020. Of course, while many great American directors of color make work that reflects the lives of people in the United States, it’s important to remember that directors of color all over the world have made iconic art for decades—even if the Oscars have been slow to catch up. Just look at Abbas Kiarostami’s Iranian slice-of-life parable “Ten,” or the way Zacharias Kunuk depicts Inuit folklore in “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.”

To appreciate these filmmakers’ work, Stacker set out to compile a list of the 50 best films made by people of color. This was done by compiling Metacritic data on all feature-length films and ranking them according to Metascore, with ties broken by IMDb user rating. To qualify, the film had to be directed by a person of color and have at least seven critic reviews. Without further ado, here are 50 movies that are truly necessary watches.

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1 / 50
Columbia Pictures

#50. Get on the Bus (1996)

- Director: Spike Lee
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Runtime: 120 minutes

“Get on the Bus” follows 15 African American men as they ride a bus to Washington D.C. to take part in the Million Man March (a 1995 mass gathering of Black men intended to place Black issues on the national political agenda). With almost nothing in common besides their race and nationality, the men soon engage in passionate debates about politics, life, and identity.

2 / 50
Walt Disney Pictures

#49. Black Is King (2020)

- Directors: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Emmanuel Adjei, Ibra Ake, Blitz Bazawule, Jenn Nkiru, Kwasi Fordjour
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb user rating: 5.7
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” acts as both a visual companion to her 2019 album, “The Lion King: The Gift,” and as an exploration of the real-life African diaspora. Like “The Lion King,” it follows a prince (Folajomi Akinmurele) who fights to reclaim his kingdom. The movie was filmed in three different continents, and was nominated for Best Music Film at the 63rd Grammy Awards.

3 / 50
Louverture Films

#48. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018)

- Director: RaMell Ross
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Runtime: 76 minutes

This Best Documentary Feature-nominated film follows various members of the Black community in Hale County, Alabama, through their everyday struggles and joys. Director RaMell Ross told Filmmaker Magazine that he employed an avant-garde, multi-perspective approach to “participate, not capture; shoot from, not at the community.”

4 / 50
Ad Vitam Production

#47. Atlantics (2019)

- Director: Mati Diop
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Runtime: 106 minutes

“Atlantics” centers on a young Senegalese woman named Ada (Mama Bineta Sane), who’s betrothed to a wealthy older man but in love with a construction worker named Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré). Souleimain and his fellow workers sail to Spain in hopes of better working conditions and supposedly drown, but Ada’s life changes when her lover begins to reappear in her life in strange ways. The film functions as a supernatural romance, a class parable, and a ghost story all in one.

5 / 50
Armory Films

#46. Mudbound (2017)

- Director: Dee Rees
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 134 minutes

It seems like Netflix films get nominated for Oscars every year these days, but Dee Rees’ film “Mudbound” was actually the first Netflix movie to be nominated for Academy Awards. It follows the connections between two Mississippi families (one Black and one white) as they deal with the aftermath of the Jim Crow era and World War II, and contend with lingering PTSD in the meantime.

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6 / 50
Ciudad Lunar Producciones

#45. Birds of Passage (2018)

- Directors: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 125 minutes

“Birds of Passage” traces the beginnings of the Colombian drug trade through the eyes of one indigenous Wayuu family in the 1970s, whose culture and livelihoods are threatened when they take part in selling marijuana to Americans. The film follows the family over several decades, resulting in an absorbing, atmospheric tale.

7 / 50
BRON Studios

#44. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

- Director: Shaka King
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 126 minutes

“Judas and the Black Messiah '' tells the real-life story about how FBI informant William O’Neal’s (Lakeith Stanfield) betrayal of Illinois Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) led to Hampton’s death in the late 1960s. Kaluuya and director Shaka King received Hampton’s son’s and widow’s blessing when he was cast, and the actor went on to win Best Supporting Actor for his performance at the 2021 Oscars.

8 / 50
Forest Whitaker's Significant Productions

#43. Fruitvale Station (2013)

- Director: Ryan Coogler
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 85 minutes

“Fruitvale Station” dramatizes the real-life story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a Black man who was murdered by San Francisco transit police on New Year’s Day in 2009. Ryan Coogler’s film calls for systemic change in regards to American racial profiling and police brutality, and the film won the Grand Jury Prize at 2013’s Sundance Film Festival.

9 / 50
Universal Pictures

#42. Get Out (2017)

- Director: Jordan Peele
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 104 minutes

In comedian filmmaker Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, a young Black man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) discovers a horrifying secret when he travels with his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to her parents’ house. The film has been praised as an indictment of the anti-Blackness in liberal white American spaces, and earned Peele an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

10 / 50
ARTE

#41. The Salesman (2016)

- Director: Asghar Farhadi
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 124 minutes

In this Iranian-French film, an Iranian couple’s marriage is thrown into jeopardy after wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) is assaulted in their new home and husband Emad (Shahab Hosseini) seeks revenge over her protestations. Although the film won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Oscars, Iranian director Farhadi didn’t attend in protest of then-President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban.”

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11 / 50
Desvia

#40. Divine Love (2019)

- Director: Gabriel Mascaro
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 6.2
- Runtime: 101 minutes

In this Brazilian film, a devoutly Christian office clerk in a fundamentalist near-future tries to dissuade couples from getting divorced, while desperately trying to get pregnant with her husband and through ritualistic, religious orgies. Based on the conservative agenda pushed forward by President Jair Bolsonaro, Variety critic Guy Lodge wrote that “Divine Love” imagines “an unsettling compromise reached between Brazil’s most puritanical and most hedonistic extremes of society.”

12 / 50
Yanceville Films

#39. Strong Island (2017)

- Director: Yance Ford
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Runtime: 107 minutes

In this Netflix documentary, director Yance Ford investigates his younger brother William Ford Jr.’s 1992 murder at the hands of a young white man, who was acquitted by an all-white jury. Ford’s film was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2018 Oscars, making him the first-ever transgender director nominated for an Academy Award.

13 / 50
Cinereach

#38. Black Mother (2018)

- Director: Khalik Allah
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Runtime: 77 minutes

In the documentary “Black Mother,” director Khalik Allah pays homage to his ancestral country and paints a kaleidoscopic portrait of life in Jamaica. The three trimesters of a woman’s pregnancy are used as loose framing devices, with the director following the lives of everyone from holy men to sex workers to new mothers.

14 / 50
Abbas Kiarostami Productions

#37. Ten (2002)

- Director: Abbas Kiarostami
- Metascore: 86
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 94 minutes

“Ten” spotlights the everyday issues faced by modern-day Iranian women by following a female driver (Mania Akbari) as she interacts with several passengers she drives through Tehran over the course of a day and contemplates her impending divorce. The acclaimed film was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at 2002’s Cannes Film Festival.

15 / 50
Netflix

#36. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

- Director: George C. Wolfe
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Runtime: 94 minutes

This adaptation of iconic writer August Wilson’s play of the same name follows 1920s blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) as a recording session leads to tense confrontations between members of her band. It was the last onscreen appearance of late actor Chadwick Boseman, who won a posthumous Golden Globe for his performance.

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16 / 50
Annapurna Pictures

#35. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

- Director: Barry Jenkins
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Runtime: 119 minutes

Adapted from James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, “If Beale Street Could Talk” follows young lovers Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), who are ripped apart after Fonny is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and Tish discovers she’s pregnant. Actor Regina King won her first Academy Award for playing Tish’s mother, Sharon.

17 / 50
Fox Searchlight Pictures

#34. The Shape of Water (2017)

- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 123 minutes

In this fantastical romance film, a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) and a humanoid amphibian fall in love, even as insidious governmental forces work to keep them apart. The Best Picture-winning film was loosely inspired by the classic monster movie, “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

18 / 50
Focus Features

#33. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

- Director: Ang Lee
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 134 minutes

“Brokeback Mountain” follows the forbidden love that grows between two cowboys (played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) from 1963 until 1983. Its Best Picture nomination marked a turning point for queer mainstream films in Hollywood.

19 / 50
Dreamlab

#32. About Elly (2009)

- Director: Asghar Farhadi
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 119 minutes

In “About Elly,” what starts as a group of Iranian friends’ vacation takes a dark turn when the kindergarten teacher one of them invited goes missing. The film examines classism in modern-day Iran, which Flavorwire describes as a commentary on “a culture where telling the truth is often not the best option.”

20 / 50
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)

#31. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

- Directors: Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Bob Persichetti
- Metascore: 87
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Runtime: 117 minutes

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” follows Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a Brooklyn teenager whose life gets turned upside down when a radioactive spider gives him supernatural powers. Joining forces with several other Spider-heroes from alternate universes, he must fight to stop the villainous Kingpin from destroying reality. The film utilizes a cutting-edge blend of CGI and 2-D animation, making it feel like viewers have literally been plunged into a comic book.

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21 / 50
Marvel Studios

#30. Black Panther (2018)

- Director: Ryan Coogler
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 134 minutes

In this acclaimed Marvel film, Wakandan heir T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) must take his place as king and confront the fact that his kingdom is more complicated than it seems after his long-lost cousin (Michael B. Jordan) challenges him for the throne. The film became the first-ever superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

22 / 50
Anhelo Producciones

#29. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Before Cuarón broke into English-language films, he gained critical acclaim for this coming-of-age road trip movie about two teenage boys (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) and an older woman (Maribel Verdú) who go on a wild journey of self-discovery in Mexico. The film takes place in 1999, as Mexican politics and the Mexican economy changed drastically after the Institutional Revolutionary Party left power.

23 / 50
40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks

#28. 4 Little Girls (1997)

- Director: Spike Lee
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 102 minutes

This documentary traces the events surrounding the horrifying 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls. “4 Little Girls” received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary in 1998.

24 / 50
Jar Pictures

#27. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

- Director: Anurag Kashyap
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 321 minutes

This epic Indian crime drama spans nearly five hours, and tracks the feud between three mafia families over three generations. It was later released as a 2015 TV series on Netflix.

25 / 50
Channel 4 News

#26. For Sama (2019)

- Directors: Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Runtime: 100 minutes

“For Sama” follows co-director Waad Al-Kateab over the course of five years, from her university career to welcoming her first child, Sama, against the backdrop of the Syrian civil war. The documentary shows the reality of living through war in Aleppo, Syria, and made history when it became the first documentary to be nominated for four BAFTAs.

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26 / 50
2.4.7. Films

#25. Persepolis (2007)

- Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 96 minutes

Adapted from Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name, “Persepolis” tells the autobiographical story of Satrapi’s experiences coming of age in the midst of the 1970s Iranian Revolution. While it lost the Oscar for Best Animated Feature to “Ratatouille,” the documentary received acclaim for its striking black-and-white animation and moving storytelling.

27 / 50
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#24. Small Axe: Mangrove (2020)

- Director: Steve McQueen
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 127 minutes

“Small Axe” is an anthology of stories based on the experiences of West Indian London immigrants from the 1960s to 1970s. The title is derived from a West Indian proverb popularized by Bob Marley which reads, “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” This particular installment tells the story of the Mangrove Nine, West Indian activists who won a court case after they were charged with rioting while protesting police brutality.

28 / 50
Amazon Studios

#23. Time (2020)

- Director: Garrett Bradley
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Runtime: 81 minutes

“Time” follows activist Sibil “Fox” Richardson, as she fights for the release of her husband, Rob, after he’s sentenced to 60 years in prison. By interweaving black-and-white footage from the Richardsons’ home videos and the present, Bradley details the fight for prison abolition and the dehumanizing impact of the U.S. prison industrial complex, while realizing the Richardsons’ joy and humanity.

29 / 50
Biennale College - Cinema

#22. This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection (2019)

- Director: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 120 minutes

In “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection,” an 80-year-old African woman named Mantoa’s (Mary Twala Mhlongo) plans to live out her final days in peace are interrupted when outside forces attempt to displace her village to build a dam. The film marked the first time the country of Lesotho submitted a movie for Academy Awards consideration.

30 / 50
Jafar Panahi Film Productions

#21. Taxi (2015)

- Director: Jafar Panahi
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 82 minutes

Before making “Taxi,” director Jafar Panahi was banned from making films by the Iranian government. To get around this rule, he made a movie while posing as a taxi driver who asked Iranian citizens about their opinions on social issues. Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky praised it as “a love letter to cinema...filled with love for his art, his community, his country, and his audience.”

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31 / 50
Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc.

#20. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

- Director: Zacharias Kunuk
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 172 minutes

“Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” made history as the first film created entirely in the Inuktitut language. The film is set in ancient times, as a mythical Inuit story unfolds and two men compete for a woman’s affections in what is now Northern Canada.

32 / 50
Filmi Domirev

#19. Moolaadé (2004)

- Director: Ousmane Sembene
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 124 minutes

In “Moolaadé,” a Burkina Faso woman named Collé (Fatoumata Coulibaly) stirs controversy in her village when she fights to protect local girls from female genital mutilation. In his review, Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Thomas wrote, “There’s such a rich sense of the fullness of life in ‘Moolaadé’ that it sustains those passages that are truly and necessarily harrowing.”

33 / 50
Final Cut for Real

#18. The Act of Killing (2012)

- Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 117 minutes

In this Indonesian documentary, former Indonesian death squad members recount the mass killing of government enemies in the 1960s by telling their stories through archetypical movie genres. At the time of the film’s release, Oppenheimer urged the United States government to take responsibility for its role in the killings.

34 / 50
Les Films du Worso

#17. Timbuktu (2014)

- Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Runtime: 96 minutes

Set in its titular city, director Abderrahmane Sissako’s film tells the story of the Jihadist occupation of Timbuktu through the eyes of an ordinary cattle herder and his loved ones. “Timbuktu” is a French-Mauritanian collaboration that’s loosely based on the real-life stoning of a couple who were accused of infidelity.

35 / 50
Caviar

#16. The Rider (2017)

- Director: Chloé Zhao
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Runtime: 104 minutes

Before winning big at the Oscars for “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao received acclaim for this quiet drama about a South Dakota rodeo rider healing from a serious injury and questioning his future as an American cowboy. As is the cast for most of the director’s films, “The Rider” is overwhelmingly populated by non-professional actors.

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36 / 50
Cor Cordium Productions

#15. Nomadland (2020)

- Director: Chloé Zhao
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Frances McDormand stars in “Nomadland” as Fern, a woman in her sixties who becomes a nomad after losing her husband and suffering after the Great Recession. Along the way, she fights to find work and care for herself, while making poignant friendships across America. The film took home several Oscars at the 2021 ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress.

37 / 50
40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks

#14. Do the Right Thing (1989)

- Director: Spike Lee
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Runtime: 120 minutes

In “Do the Right Thing,” racial tensions build to the point of riots on one hot summer day in Brooklyn. This is considered one of Lee’s most iconic films, and speaks to both the moral failings of the Reagan administration and the systemic racism at play in America.

38 / 50
1+2 Seisaku Iinkai

#13. Yi Yi (2000)

- Director: Edward Yang
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 173 minutes

Literally translating to “One by One,” this family epic follows three generations of a middle-class Taiwanese family as they grapple with their everyday relationships, regrets, and joy in life over the course of a year. Yang won the Best Director Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for “Yi Yi,” and it’s since been named as one of the best films of the 21st century.

39 / 50
David Byrne's American Utopia (2020)

#12. David Byrne's American Utopia (2020)

- Director: Spike Lee
- Metascore: 93
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Spike Lee’s movie is a filmed version of former “Talking Heads” frontman David Byrne’s Broadway show, “American Utopia.” Over the course of the show, Byrne performs hits from his album of the same name, as well as several “Talking Heads” favorites, while emphasizing the importance of human connection.

40 / 50
Asia Union Film & Entertainment Ltd.

#11. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

- Director: Ang Lee
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Runtime: 120 minutes

This classic Chinese epic follows three protagonists through the Qing Dynasty, as they find love and eventually join together in battle. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is a landmark example of a martial arts film, and was nominated for a whopping 10 Oscars.

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41 / 50
Concordia Studio

#10. Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021)

- Director: Questlove
- Metascore: 94
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s first foray into filmmaking won the Grand Jury and Audience prizes in Sundance’s U.S. Documentary competition. “Summer of Soul” dives deep into the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which took place the same year as Woodstock and featured performances from legendary performers like Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and B.B. King. It’s full of joyous music greatness that often speaks for itself, but Questlove also uses the documentary to dive into how many Black artists’ work responded to the civil rights era.

42 / 50
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#9. Lovers Rock (2020)

- Director: Steve McQueen
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Runtime: 70 minutes

“Lovers Rock” unfolds over the course of one night, as young lovers Martha (Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) and Franklyn (Michael Ward) fall for one another over the course of a 1980s West London reggae party. The title refers to a genre of music largely attributed to British-Carribean immigrants. This particular installment focuses on the Black diaspora and sources of Black joy and community in London at the time.

43 / 50
ARTE

#8. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

- Director: Raoul Peck
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Runtime: 93 minutes

Adapted from prolific African American author James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember This House,” Raoul Peck’s documentary uses the writer’s prose to critique systemic racism in America and reminisce about civil rights leaders to whom Baldwin was close (from Martin Luther King Jr. to Malcolm X). The film was narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2017 Oscars.

44 / 50
Asghar Farhadi Productions

#7. A Separation (2011)

- Director: Asghar Farhadi
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Runtime: 123 minutes

In this landmark of Iranian cinema, a middle-class couple (played by Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi) come to the decision to separate after failing to agree on whether to move to another country with their daughter’s (Sarina Farhadi) future in mind or stay in Iran to care for husband Simin’s (Hatami) ailing, elderly father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi). The acclaimed film was a major awards contender, and won Best Foreign Film at the 2012 Academy Awards.

45 / 50
Charles Burnett

#6. Killer of Sheep (1978)

- Director: Charles Burnett
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Runtime: 80 minutes

“Killer of Sheep” follows Stan (Henry G. Sanders), a Black man in 1970s Los Angeles who finds grueling work at a slaughterhouse to provide for his family and struggles to maintain his personal bonds with them in the face of poverty. Filmed in director Charles Burnett’s home neighborhood of Watts using many real-life residents, the film pays homage to the daily lives of working class African Americans of the era using an Italian neorealism-esque style.

46 / 50
Esperanto Filmoj

#5. Roma (2018)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 135 minutes

Loosely inspired by Alfonso Cuarón’s own experiences growing up in 1970s Mexico City, “Roma” follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), a live-in housekeeper for a middle-class family who contends with caring for the family and herself amid both personal turmoil and political unrest in the country. Aparicio, who had no formal acting training before the film, went on to receive a Best Actress nomination for her powerful performance.

47 / 50
Warner Bros.

#4. Gravity (2013)

- Director: Alfonso Cuarón
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Runtime: 91 minutes

In “Gravity,” two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) fight to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space. Alfonso Cuarón won his first Best Director Oscar for his work on the film, marking the first time a Mexican filmmaker had ever won the honor.

48 / 50
New Regency Productions

#3. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

- Director: Steve McQueen
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Runtime: 134 minutes

Based on Solomon Northup’s memoir of the same name, “12 Years a Slave” tells the story of how the writer was kidnapped in New York and enslaved for 12 brutal years ahead of the American Civil War. While Lupita Nyong’o is a bonafide movie star now, this movie marked her feature film debut and won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

49 / 50
Estudios Picasso

#2. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

- Director: Guillermo del Toro
- Metascore: 98
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Runtime: 118 minutes

In this darkly beautiful Spanish fairytale, a girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) discovers a fantastical underworld against the backdrop of World War II Spain. Guillermo del Toro came up with the idea based on a childhood dream he had of a faun stepping out from behind a grandfather clock, and “Pan’s Labyrinth” succeeds in using its fantasy setting as an allegory for the horrors of war.

50 / 50
A24

#1. Moonlight (2016)

- Director: Barry Jenkins
- Metascore: 99
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Runtime: 111 minutes

“Moonlight” follows a gay Black man named Chiron (played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) as he comes to terms with his masculinity and sexuality through three distinct chapters of his Miami-based life: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Jenkins’ film won best picture at the 2017 Oscars, marking the first time an LGBTQ+ film and a film with an all-Black cast took home the top prize.

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