The 2000s was an iconic time for all things entertainment, marking an impressionable era for a range of generations. Many Gen Z and millennials were just kids during this time, greatly impacted by the films that were released. These include comedies that thousands still quote to this day and dramas that still sting too painfully to watch back. A unique time in history that cannot be compared to any other, picking the top movies of the 2000s is a near-impossible feat. But while it may be a little controversial, that is what this list of 2000s Black movies aims to do. 

These movies showcase a range of genres and stories, all significant in their own right within the landscape of Black cinema in the 2000s. For example, many of them center stories and themes that depict real-life struggles faced by the Black community. Others are iconic comedies that stand the test of time and continue to make new generations laugh. Enjoy this throwback to some classic films or finally venture into them with this list of 2000s Black movies that are ranked by their IMDb rating and Rotten Tomatoes score. 

21. ‘Soul Plane’ (2004)

IMDb: 4.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 18%

Soul Plane, directed by Jessy Terrero, is a comedy that follows Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart), a man who wins a lawsuit against an airline after a humiliating experience on a commercial flight. With his settlement money, Nashawn decides to start his own airline, NWA (Nashawn Wade Airlines), catering specifically to the Black community and infusing it with extravagant amenities and a vibrant atmosphere. The film humorously explores the over-the-top and outlandish experiences aboard NWA, featuring an eccentric crew, wild passengers and a series of comedic misadventures during the inaugural flight. Though criticized for its exaggerated humor and caricatured portrayals, Soul Plane aims to entertain with its slapstick comedy and exaggerated scenarios, targeting a specific comedic style and audience.

20. ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005)

IMDb: 5.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 17%

Get Rich or Die Tryin’, directed by Jim Sheridan, is a semi-autobiographical film inspired by the life of rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. The movie portrays the journey of Marcus, played by 50 Cent, a drug dealer who turns to rap music as a means of escaping the dangerous streets of Queens, New York. After a near-fatal shooting that prompts him to reassess his life, Marcus pursues his passion for music, navigating the challenges of the music industry while grappling with his past and the temptations of his former lifestyle. The film delves into themes of perseverance, redemption and the pursuit of dreams against all odds. It offers a glimpse into the struggles and motivations behind one man’s rise from a life of crime to becoming a successful artist. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ blends elements of street life, music and personal resilience, reflecting 50 Cent’s own journey to fame and success.

19. ‘Next Friday’ (2000)

IMDb: 6.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 21%

Next Friday, directed by Steve Carr, is a comedy sequel to the film Friday. The movie follows the adventures of Craig (Ice Cube) as he relocates to his uncle’s house in the suburbs to escape trouble in his neighborhood. However, chaos ensues when he encounters quirky and eccentric characters in the new neighborhood, including his cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps). As Craig tries to navigate through outrageous situations and outwit the local troublemakers, the film unfolds with a series of comedic mishaps, confrontations and humorous escapades. Next Friday maintains the lighthearted and comedic tone of its predecessor, offering a blend of slapstick humor, eccentric characters and situational comedy, making it a fun and entertaining addition to the Friday franchise.

18. ‘Drumline’ (2002)

IMDb: 5.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Drumline, directed by Charles Stone III, is an energetic and spirited film that follows the story of Devon Miles (Nick Cannon), a talented young drummer from Harlem who earns a scholarship to join the marching band at a historically Black university. As Devon navigates the challenges of fitting into the band’s strict traditions and clashes with its disciplined leader, Dr. Lee (Orlando Jones), he brings his innovative drumming style, injecting new life into the band’s performances. The film showcases the exhilarating world of competitive marching bands, highlighting the dedication, discipline and camaraderie among its members. Drumline celebrates the power of music and the pursuit of excellence in a vibrant and rhythm-filled narrative.

17. ‘Notorious’ (2009)

IMDb: 6.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

Notorious, directed by George Tillman Jr., is a biographical film chronicling the life of iconic rapper Christopher Wallace, known as The Notorious B.I.G. The movie traces Biggie’s rise from a struggling Brooklyn street hustler to becoming a larger-than-life figure in the hip-hop industry. It delves into his journey through the music scene, his relationships, including his tumultuous marriage to R&B singer Faith Evans, and the infamous East Coast-West Coast rivalry that tragically led to his untimely death. Jamal Woolard delivers a compelling performance as he embodies the essence of Biggie, capturing his charisma, lyrical prowess and the complexities of his life. Notorious offers a glimpse into the personal and professional life of one of hip-hop’s most influential figures, celebrating his impact on the music industry while exploring the challenges and controversies that defined his legacy.

16. ‘Brown Sugar’ (2002)

IMDb: 6.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

Brown Sugar, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, is a romantic comedy-drama centered around childhood friends and music enthusiasts Sidney Shaw (Sanaa Lathan) and Dre Ellis (Taye Diggs). The film explores their lifelong bond and shared passion for hip-hop as they navigate careers in the music industry. Sidney works as an editor for a hip-hop magazine, while Dre becomes a successful record executive. As their lives intertwine, they grapple with evolving relationships, career pressures and the complexities of love. Brown Sugar beautifully captures the essence of hip-hop culture, using music as a backdrop to explore themes of friendship, love and the enduring power of a shared passion. The film’s heartfelt storytelling and chemistry between the lead characters make it amongst the most nostalgic 2000s Black movies and a charming depiction of romance within the backdrop of the music industry.

15. ‘Baby Boy’ (2001)

IMDb: 6.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Baby Boy, directed by John Singleton, is a raw and intimate portrayal of life in South Central Los Angeles. The film revolves around Jody, played by Tyrese Gibson, a young man grappling with the transition into adulthood. Jody struggles to mature and take responsibility for his life despite being a father to two children with different mothers. He lives with his mother, Juanita, portrayed by A.J. Johnson, whose overbearing presence adds to his struggle for independence. As Jody navigates complex relationships with his girlfriend Yvette (Taraji P. Henson) and other women, tensions rise, and confrontations escalate, exposing the challenges of masculinity, family dynamics and societal expectations. Singleton’s film delves into the complexities of urban life, offering a poignant exploration of the pressures and conflicts faced by young Black men as they navigate adulthood in a challenging environment.

14. ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ (2008)

IMDb: 7.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%

Here is one of the arguably underrated movies amongst this list of 2000s Black movies. The Secret Life of Bees, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, is an emotional and touching drama set in South Carolina during the Civil Rights era. The film follows Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), a young girl haunted by the memory of her mother’s death, as she escapes her abusive father with her caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) to find solace and answers in the home of the Boatwright sisters. The Boatwrights—August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okonedo)—are beekeepers who offer Lily and Rosaleen refuge on their honey farm. As Lily becomes intertwined with the Boatwrights’ lives, she discovers the power of female resilience, the healing force of love and community and the importance of facing her past. The film beautifully captures themes of sisterhood, empowerment and the search for belonging, delivering a moving and heartfelt narrative buoyed by strong performances.

13. ‘Coach Carter’ (2005)

IMDb: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%

Coach Carter, directed by Thomas Carter, is an inspiring sports drama based on the true story of Coach Ken Carter, played by Samuel L. Jackson. The film follows Coach Carter as he takes on the coaching role at a struggling high school basketball team in Richmond, California. Determined to instill discipline, academic excellence and integrity in his players, Coach Carter implements strict rules, including maintaining a high GPA to play. As the team faces challenges on and off the court, Carter’s unyielding commitment to their personal growth and success becomes a beacon of motivation. The movie delves into themes of leadership, education and the transformative power of mentorship. It emphasizes the importance of integrity and perseverance in achieving one’s goals. Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of Coach Carter highlights the coach’s dedication and unwavering belief in his players’ potential, making the film a stirring and impactful sports drama.

12. ‘Barbershop’ (2002)

IMDb: 6.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Here is a film that involves the infectious humor couples with real-life turmoil that is quintessential to 2000s Black movies. Barbershop, directed by Tim Story, is a comedic drama set in a South Side Chicago barbershop owned by Calvin Palmer Jr., played by Ice Cube. The film revolves around a day in the life of the barbershop and its colorful cast of characters, including Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), Terri (Eve), Jimmy (Sean Patrick Thomas) and others. As Calvin contemplates selling the barbershop due to financial struggles, the diverse group of barbers and customers engage in lively discussions, debates and humorous interactions, tackling topics ranging from politics to relationships. Through witty dialogue and relatable situations, Barbershop portrays the barbershop as a hub of community and culture, highlighting its significance as a place for camaraderie, sharing stories and debating life’s complexities. It’s all about ultimately celebrating the sense of belonging and unity within the community.

11. ‘Dreamgirls’ (2006)

IMDb: 6.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Dreamgirls, directed by Bill Condon, is a dazzling musical drama set in the 1960s and ’70s that follows the rise of a female singing trio called The Dreamettes. The film chronicles the journey of Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) as they navigate the trials and tribulations of the music industry, striving for fame and success. Initially serving as backup singers for James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy), the trio eventually becomes a sensation but faces internal conflicts and personal sacrifices as their careers skyrocket. Dreamgirls captures the dreams, struggles and transformations of its characters, showcasing themes of ambition, betrayal and the price of stardom. Jennifer Hudson’s breakout performance earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, contributing to the film’s acclaim and cementing its status as a captivating musical spectacle.

10. ‘Hustle & Flow’ (2005)

IMDb: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Hustle & Flow, directed by Craig Brewer, is a gritty and soulful drama centered around DJay (Terrence Howard), a Memphis hustler and aspiring rapper determined to escape his life of poverty and make it in the music industry. DJay, with the help of his friends and fellow musicians, embarks on a journey to produce his own rap music while facing numerous challenges and setbacks. As he navigates the struggles of his past and present circumstances, DJay’s passion, determination and raw talent drive him to pursue his dreams despite the odds stacked against him. The film skillfully captures the essence of hip-hop culture and delves into themes of redemption, ambition and the power of music as DJay strives to find his voice and make a meaningful mark in the world. Terrence Howard’s compelling performance adds depth and authenticity to the character, making Hustle & Flow a standout film within the realm of music-driven dramas. It also earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. 

9. ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ (2006)

IMDb: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

The Pursuit of Happyness, directed by Gabriele Muccino, is an emotional and inspiring biographical drama starring Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman facing homelessness while raising his young son, played by Smith’s son, Jaden Smith. The film portrays Gardner’s unwavering determination and resilience as he endures numerous hardships while pursuing a career as a stockbroker through an unpaid internship at a prestigious brokerage firm. Despite facing immense challenges and homelessness, Gardner’s commitment to providing a better life for his son drives him to overcome obstacles and pursue his dreams. The movie captures the emotional journey of a father-son relationship amidst adversity, culminating in a heartwarming and uplifting narrative that resonates with themes of hope, perseverance and the pursuit of happiness against all odds.

8. ‘Training Day’ (2001)

IMDb: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Training Day is a gritty crime thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua that follows a day in the life of LAPD narcotics officer Alonzo Harris, played by Denzel Washington. The film primarily centers around rookie cop Jake Hoyt, portrayed by Ethan Hawke, who is partnered with Harris for a day of evaluation. As the day progresses, Hoyt discovers the depths of corruption and unethical practices within the department as he is exposed to Harris’s controversial methods of enforcing the law. Washington delivers a powerhouse performance as the morally ambiguous and manipulative veteran cop, while Hawke portrays the moral conflict and internal struggle of a principled officer facing intense ethical challenges. The movie’s tension-filled narrative, coupled with strong performances, explores themes of power, morality and corruption within law enforcement, making it a standout in both Denzel Washington’s career and the crime thriller genre.

7. ‘Love & Basketball’ (2000)

IMDb: 7.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

This is one of the 2000s Black movies that many would go up in arms for to defend as the best. Love & Basketball, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, is a romantic drama that follows the intertwined journeys of Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall (Omar Epps), aspiring basketball players and childhood neighbors. The film spans over a decade, chronicling their deep bond forged through their shared love for basketball and each other. As they navigate their personal and professional lives, the film explores themes of love, ambition and the challenges of pursuing dreams while maintaining a relationship. Love & Basketball stands out as a heartfelt and compelling story that transcends sports and delves into the emotional landscape of relationships and aspirations. It does this with its authentic portrayal of the complexities of love and the dedication required to follow one’s passion.

6. ‘Antwone Fisher’ (2002)

IMDb: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Antwone Fisher, directed by Denzel Washington, is a deeply moving and autobiographical drama based on the life of Antwone Fisher, portrayed by Derek Luke. The film follows Fisher, a young Navy sailor with a troubled past marked by abuse and abandonment, as he seeks counseling to confront his emotional scars. Under the guidance of his psychiatrist, Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington), Fisher begins a transformative journey of self-discovery and healing. Through poignant sessions, Fisher confronts his traumatic past, grapples with his anger and insecurities and gradually finds the strength to overcome his demons and embrace a hopeful future. Antwone Fisher is a powerful and emotional exploration of resilience, forgiveness and the search for identity, shining a light on the redemptive power of therapy and the human spirit’s capacity to heal.

5. ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ (2006)

IMDb: 7.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Akeelah and the Bee, directed by Doug Atchison, is a heartwarming and inspirational drama centered on Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), a young girl from South Los Angeles with a remarkable talent for spelling. Despite facing various challenges and doubters in her community, Akeelah finds encouragement from her coach, Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), and eventually earns the opportunity to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The film beautifully portrays Akeelah’s journey of self-discovery, resilience and the importance of believing in oneself, as she navigates academic pressures while grappling with personal loss and insecurities. Akeelah and the Bee is a touching story that celebrates the power of determination, mentorship and the pursuit of excellence, resonating with themes of community support and the triumph of the human spirit. It remains one of the many nostalgic 200s Black movies that resonated with Black youth of its time. 

4. ‘Remember the Titans’ (2000)

IMDb: 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%

There seemingly can not be any 2000s Black movies without the iconic Denzel Washington. Here is another. Remember the Titans, directed by Boaz Yakin, is a powerful sports drama based on the true story of the integration of the T.C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia, during the early 1970s. The film follows Coach Herman Boone (Washington) as he takes on the challenge of uniting a racially divided team and community after being appointed as the first Black head coach. Amidst racial tensions and resistance, Coach Boone and the team’s white captain, Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst), work together to overcome prejudice and differences, fostering unity and a shared sense of purpose through football. Through its stirring portrayal of teamwork, friendship and the fight against racism, Remember the Titans delivers a message of hope and solidarity, illustrating how sports can transcend societal barriers and bring people together. The film’s inspiring narrative and standout performances make it a beloved classic in sports cinema.

3. ‘Precious’ (2009)

IMDb: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Precious, directed by Lee Daniels, is a poignant and emotionally intense drama based on the novel Push by Sapphire. The film centers on Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), an African American teenager living in Harlem in the late 1980s. Precious endures unimaginable abuse and hardship at the hands of her mother, portrayed hauntingly by Mo’Nique, while facing numerous challenges, including illiteracy, obesity and sexual abuse that leads to multiple pregnancies. With the help of a compassionate teacher (Paula Patton) and a social worker (Mariah Carey), Precious begins to find hope and strength as she strives to overcome the traumatic circumstances that have plagued her life. Precious is a raw and unflinching exploration of resilience, survival and the pursuit of a better life in the face of overwhelming adversity, anchored by powerful performances that shed light on the harsh realities faced by many marginalized individuals. Mo’Nique won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Precious’s abusive mother, delivering a chilling and impactful performance.

2. ‘Ray’ (2004)

IMDb: 7.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Ray, directed by Taylor Hackford, is a powerful biographical film chronicling the life and career of legendary musician Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx delivers an extraordinary performance as Ray Charles, capturing his musical genius and personal struggles. The film traces Charles’s journey from his early years in Florida, his rise to fame in the music industry and his battles with blindness, addiction and personal relationships. Through Foxx’s immersive portrayal, the movie beautifully intertwines Charles’s groundbreaking musical achievements with the emotional complexities of his life. It offers an intimate and moving portrait of the musical icon. Foxx’s performance earned widespread acclaim, including an Academy Award for Best Actor, solidifying Ray as a standout biopic in cinematic history.

1. ‘The Last King of Scotland’ (2006)

IMDb: 7.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Topping the list of 2000s Black movies is The Last King of Scotland. This film was directed by Kevin Macdonald and is a gripping historical drama set in Uganda during the 1970s. The film revolves around the fictionalized account of Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a young Scottish doctor who becomes the personal physician to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, portrayed brilliantly by Forest Whitaker. As Garrigan becomes increasingly entangled in Amin’s inner circle, he witnesses the dictator’s charm, volatility and brutal tyranny. The movie skillfully captures the escalating tension and fear within Amin’s regime, showcasing the psychological manipulation and moral dilemmas faced by Garrigan as he grapples with his complicity in Amin’s atrocities. Forest Whitaker’s mesmerizing portrayal earned him critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Actor. This added depth and complexity to the character of Idi Amin and made The Last King of Scotland a compelling and haunting political thriller.