Best Movies About Martin Luther King

Updated
Best Movies About Martin Luther King

So many movies have explored Best Movies About Martin Luther King. Here are 20 of our favorites.

The Help (2011)

The Help
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Tate Taylor, starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard
Rated PG-13

The Help is a 2011 period drama film directed by Tate Taylor and written by Taylor and Kathryn Stockett, based on Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name. Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, the film follows a young white woman, Skeeter (Emma Stone), who becomes interested in the plight of the African-American domestic workers and wants to write a book about their experiences. She forms a friendship with two maids, Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), who help her tell the truth about life as a black domestic worker in the South during the time period. Through their stories, Skeeter gains insight into the racism and oppression that African-Americans face in the segregated South. The film is a powerful and poignant look at racism and segregation, and it features strong performances from the ensemble cast.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

A Raisin in the Sun
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Daniel Petrie, starring Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands
Rated Approved

A Raisin in the Sun is a 1961 American drama film directed by Daniel Petrie. The film follows a black family living in Chicago as they receive an insurance check from the death of their patriarch. The family, made up of Lena, her son Walter Lee, her daughter Beneatha, and her son-in-law Bobo, must decide what to do with the money. Walter Lee wants to use the money to invest in a liquor store, while Lena wants to use the money to move the family to a better neighborhood. Beneatha believes the money should be used to fund her medical school education. The family must come to grips with their past and their present in order to make a decision on the money. Racial tensions and issues arise as they attempt to make their decision. In the end, the family decides to use the money to move to a better neighborhood. They are faced with the choice of accepting a buyout offer from a white neighborhood group or risking being the only black family in an all white neighborhood. They choose to stick to their ideals and move to the white neighborhood. A Raisin in the Sun highlights the issues of racial discrimination and class struggle in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

In the Heat of the Night
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Norman Jewison, starring Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant
Rated Approved

In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 drama-mystery film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger. The movie follows Virgil Tibbs, a black police detective from Philadelphia, as he investigates a murder case in a small town in Mississippi. Tibbs is initially met with hostility and suspicion due to his race, but eventually earns the respect of the local sheriff and the townspeople as they work together to solve the mystery. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Steiger. It is considered a seminal work in American cinema, and its themes of racism still resonate today.

4 Little Girls (1997)

4 Little Girls
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Spike Lee, starring Maxine McNair, Walter Cronkite, Chris McNair, Fred Lee Shuttlesworth
Rated TV-14

4 Little Girls is a 1997 documentary film directed and produced by Spike Lee. The film chronicles the events leading up to the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, an act of white supremacist terrorism which killed four African-American girls. The film features interviews with family members of the victims, survivors of the attack, and other people connected to the event. It also examines the ongoing repercussions of the bombing, and the Civil Rights struggle in Alabama, as well as the subsequent passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The film serves as an important reminder of the racial injustices of the past and the legacies of systemic racism that still linger in American society today.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kramer, starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton
Rated Approved

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a classic 1967 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Stanley Kramer. The film stars Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Katherine Hepburn, and tells the story of a pair of newly engaged liberal-minded parents who must confront their own racial preconceptions when their daughter brings home her African-American fiancé to meet them. After the initial shock, the couple must decide whether to accept their daughter's fiancé or reject him for the color of his skin. The film was a landmark in its exploration of racial issues and earned ten Academy Award nominations.

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Mississippi Burning
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Alan Parker, starring Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif
Rated R

Mississippi Burning is a 1988 drama directed by Alan Parker which follows two FBI agents, Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) and Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe), as they investigate the disappearance of three civil rights activists in a small Mississippi town in 1964. As the two agents navigate a hostile and bigoted white community, they uncover a conspiracy involving the local police, the Ku Klux Klan, and the town's white citizens. The agents' investigation reveals a series of shocking atrocities, ultimately leading to a violent showdown between the FBI and the Klan. Mississippi Burning highlights the pervasive racism in the Deep South of the 1960s, while also depicting the courage of ordinary citizens who stood up to bigotry and injustice.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Boaz Yakin, starring Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst
Rated PG

Remember the Titans is a 2000 American sports drama film starring Denzel Washington. It is based on the true story of African-American coach Herman Boone (Washington), who is hired to coach the newly integrated T.C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971. Coach Boone faces formidable challenges and hostility from both the local community and from within his own team as he works to overcome racial tensions and build a unified team. With time and patience, Coach Boone successfully brings the team together, instilling in them a spirit of brotherhood and respect. The team's dedication and hard work culminate in an inspirational season, culminating in a victorious state championship game. Remember the Titans is a celebration of perseverance, tolerance, and teamwork, and a powerful reminder of the kind of positive change that can come when people work together.

Malcolm X (1992)

Malcolm X
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Spike Lee, starring Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee
Rated PG-13

Malcolm X follows the life and career of African American leader Malcolm X (Denzel Washington), chronicling his rise from a troubled youth to a prominent civil rights leader. Malcolm X’s story is told from his life in prison to his activism as a member of the Nation of Islam, to his eventual break with the Nation of Islam and his death. The film explores the controversial figure’s philosophy of self-determination and racial pride, as well as his role in the African American struggle for civil rights. Spike Lee’s film also examines the complex relationships between Malcolm X and the other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elijah Muhammad.

The Hurricane (1999)

The Hurricane
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Norman Jewison, starring Denzel Washington, Vicellous Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber
Rated R

The Hurricane is a 1999 American biographical sports drama film directed by Norman Jewison. The film follows the life of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, an African-American middleweight boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to three life terms in prison. The story of his fight to prove his innocence, and eventual release from prison, is told through the eyes of his friend and associate, Lesra Martin, a Canadian teen who is moved by Carter's story and eventually helps free him from prison. With the help of the three Canadian activists who befriended him, Lesra and his team work tirelessly to prove Rubin's innocence and reveal the truth about his conviction. Along the way, Rubin finds the strength and inspiration to keep fighting for his freedom and to never give up hope. In the end, he is freed and his name is cleared.

42 (2013)

42
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Brian Helgeland, starring Chadwick Boseman, T.R. Knight, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie
Rated PG-13

42 is a 2013 biographical sports film starring Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford and Christopher Meloni. The film tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era. The film begins in 1945, when Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, decides to challenge the baseball's "colour line" by signing Robinson to the team, despite the objections of the team's manager. The film follows Robinson through his early struggles with racism and discrimination and his eventual success, both on and off the field. The film culminates with Robinson's first game as a Brooklyn Dodger and his ultimate induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 42 is an inspiring tale of courage and determination, showing how one man's dream of equality and justice transcended the sport of baseball and changed the world.

Selma (2014)

Selma
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Ava DuVernay, starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Wilkinson
Rated PG-13

Selma is a 2014 biographical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. It stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. and chronicles the three Selma to Montgomery marches that occurred in 1965. The film follows the civil rights protests that occurred in the Southern US state of Alabama during the mid-1960s. It follows the struggle of African-Americans to gain voting rights and the violent opposition they faced in doing so. The film also focuses on King's personal struggles with his relationships and religious faith, as well as his use of non-violent protest to gain civil rights for all African-Americans. The film culminates in the famous Selma to Montgomery march, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders, that ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Long Walk Home (1990)

The Long Walk Home
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Richard Pearce, starring Sissy Spacek, Whoopi Goldberg, Dwight Schultz, Ving Rhames
Rated PG

Talk to Me (2007)

Talk to Me
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Kasi Lemmons, starring Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bruce McFee, Mike Epps
Rated R

Glory Road (2006)

Glory Road
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From James Gartner, starring Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Austin Nichols, Jon Voight
Rated PG

The Butler (2013)

The Butler
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Lee Daniels, starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda
Rated PG-13

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

The Secret Life of Bees
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Gina Prince-Bythewood, starring Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys
Rated PG-13

How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) (2005)

How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)
★★★★
★★★★
2.8 out of 4 stars

From Joe Angio, starring Marva Allen, Emanuel Azenberg, Shelley R. Bonus, St. Clair Bourne
Rated Unrated

Hairspray (1988)

Hairspray
★★★★
★★★★
2.8 out of 4 stars

From John Waters, starring Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Divine, Debbie Harry
Rated PG

Ali (2001)

Ali
★★★★
★★★★
2.7 out of 4 stars

From Michael Mann, starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles
Rated R

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
★★★★
★★★★
2.2 out of 4 stars

From Melvin Van Peebles, starring Melvin Van Peebles, Hubert Scales, John Dullaghan, Simon Chuckster
Rated R

 



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