Black Love in Cinema (Romance Films Featuring Black Leads)

To celebrate both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, I wanted to recommend films that highlight Black love in cinema. We don’t get as many films depicting Black romantic love as I would hope. There should be more than the amount we have right now. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of gems out there. Some are already hugely popular while others I consider to be underrated. Either way, they all showcase romantic love portrayed by Black leads and they should be appreciated all the same. Considering watching one of these films this month if you celebrate Black History Month (why wouldn’t you?) and Valentine’s Day.

Coming to America (1988)

Immersed in luxury and riches, the courteous blue blood and refined heir apparent to Africa’s prosperous kingdom of Zamunda, Prince Akeem, summons up the courage to reject an arranged marriage proposal on his twenty-first birthday. Bent on finding true love, the young aristocrat along with his trusted valet, Semmi, find themselves in the strange and unknown urban jungle of New York City’s Queens, trying to mingle with their neighbours by posing as humble exchange students. More than anything in the world, the noble prince yearns to be loved for what he is, and not for his title; however, can he find his soulmate in the bustling Big Apple?

Top Five (2014)

A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality television star fiancée talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her television show.

Think Like a Man (2012)

Four women have given up on getting their men to do what they want until they find a how to book written by Steve Harvey. They start using his advice about relationships, and their men start falling in line, until the men discover what the women have been doing, then the war is on.

Love & Basketball (2000)

In 1981 in L.A., Monica moves in next door to Quincy. They’re 11, and both want to play in the NBA, just like Quincy’s dad. Their love-hate relationship lasts into high school, with Monica’s edge and Quincy’s top-dog attitude separating them, until high school ends, they come together as a couple. Within a year, with both of them playing ball at USC, Quincy’s relationship with his father takes an ugly turn, and it leads to a break up with Monica. Some years later, their pro careers at a crossroads, they meet again. It’s time for a final game of one-on-one with high stakes.

The Photograph (2020)

When famed photographer Christina Eames dies
unexpectedly, she leaves her estranged daughter, Mae, hurt, angry and full of questions. When Mae finds a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box, she soon finds herself delving into her mother’s early life an investigation that leads to an unexpected romance with a rising journalist.

Just Wright (2010)

Leslie Wright is a straight-shooting physical therapist who gets the gig of a lifetime working with NBA All-Star Scott McKnight. All is going well until Leslie finds herself falling for Scott, forcing her to choose between the gig and the tug-of-war inside her heart. Oblivious to her romantic overtures, McKnight is instead drawn to the affections of Leslie’s childhood friend Morgan, who has her sights set on being an NBA trophy wife.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

Stella Payne is a highly successful, forty-something San Francisco, California stock broker who is persuaded by her colorful New York City girlfriend Delilah Abraham to take a well deserved, first-class vacation to Jamaica. As she soaks in the beauty of the island, she encounters a strapping, young islander, Winston Shakespeare. His pursuits for her turn into a hot and steamy romance that forces Stella to take a personal inventory of her life and try to find a balance between her desire for love and companionship, and the responsibilities of mother and corporate executive.

Baggage Claim (2013)

Determined to get engaged before her youngest sister’s wedding, flight attendant Montana Moore finds herself with only 30 days to find Mr. Right. Using her airline connections to “accidentally” meet up with eligible ex-boyfriends and scour for potential candidates, she racks up more than 30,000 miles and countless comedic encounters, all the while searching for the perfect guy.

The Forty-Year Old Version (2020)

Radha is a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, who is desperate for a breakthrough before 40. Reinventing herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime, she vacillates between the worlds of Hip Hop and theater in order to find her true voice.

Rafiki (2018)

Kena and Ziki long for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.

Beyond the Lights (2014)

The pressures of fame have superstar singer Noni on the edge, until she meets Kaz, a young cop who works to help her find the courage to develop her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to be.

Claudine (1974)

In the 1970s Harlem, garbage collector Roop feels intimidated by the idea of dating Claudine who is a single mother of six on welfare.

Lovers Rock (2020)

A single evening at a house party in 1980s West London sets the scene, developing intertwined relationships against a background of violence, romance and music.

Brown Sugar (2002)

Sidney is a writer who’s just left her L.A. Times music review gig to edit New York hip-hop magazine XXL. Dre is an executive with a hip-hop record company based in New York. They’ve known each other since they met as children, when both discovered hip-hop for the first time. Now that they’re back together, they should be perfect for each other, except that Dre’s about to marry lawyer Reese and Sidney claims not to be interested in Dre romantically.

Moonlight (2016)

A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.

Love Jones (1997)

Darius Lovehall is a young black poet in Chicago who starts dating Nina Mosley, a beautiful and talented photographer. While trying to figure out if they’ve got a “love thing” or are just “kicking it,” they hang out with their friend, talking about love and sex. Then Nina tests the strength of Darius’ feelings and sets a chain of romantic complications into motion.

Paris Blue (1961)

During the 1960s, two American expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris meet and fall in love with two American tourist girls.

Dirty Computer (2018)

An Android, Jane 57821, attempts to break free from the constraints of a totalitarian society that forcibly makes Jane comply with its homophobic beliefs.

Sylvie’s Love (2020)

Years after their summer romance comes to an end, an aspiring television producer and a talented musician cross paths, only to find their feelings for each other never changed. With their careers taking them in different directions, they must choose what matters most.

The Best Man (1999)

Just before his best friend’s wedding, the life of a Chicago writer becomes crazy when the friend guesses that new book’s story based on his bride’s fervent past.

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