In an era where there are more films and television series released than ever before, a good amount of these projects have primarily Black casts or Black leads. While there are several projects in development that may be released at some point next year, we’ve put together a list of those that have been confirmed to come out this year!
In no particular order, here are 20 films and television series to watch:
1. Hunters (television series, Amazon)
Produced by Jordan Peele, Hunters follows “a diverse band of Nazi hunters living in 1977 New York City. The Hunters, as they’re known, have discovered that hundreds of high-ranking Nazi officials are living among us and conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in the U.S. The eclectic team of Hunters will set out on a bloody quest to bring the Nazis to justice and thwart their new genocidal plans.” The cast is led by Al Pacino and also stars Logan Lerman, Jerrika Hinton, Josh Radnor, Kate Mulvany, Tiffany Boone, Greg Austin, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Carol Kane, Saul Rubinek, Dylan Baker, Lena Olin, Ebony Obsidian, Julissa Bermudez and Henry Hunter Hall.
2. Lovecraft County (television series, HBO)
Lovecraft Country, which has been gestating for some time now, comes from a stellar team of Misha Green, Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams. It is based on the book of the same name. The series is led by Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Jonathan Majors and also stars Courtney B. Vance, Wunmi Mosaku, Aunjanue Ellis, Michael K. Williams, Abbey Lee, Jamie Chung, Erica Tazel, Tony Goldwyn and more. Focusing on members of two Black families and described as “a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism,” the story follows 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner as he embarks on a road trip to New England in search of his missing father, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours. A specific release date is not known yet.
3. We Are Who We Are (limited series, HBO)
Call Me By Your Name helmer Luca Guadagnino has an extremely diverse, Italy-set coming-of-age drama series coming soon to HBO. It follows “two American teenagers who, along with their military and civilian parents, are living on an American military base in Italy.” It will explore “friendship, first love and all the unknowns of being a teenager, which could happen anywhere, but in this case, happens to be in this little slice of America in Italy.” Chloë Sevigny, Alice Braga and Kid Cudi are among the established actors on the series, as well as young, upcoming actors Spence Moore II (All American, Five Points) and Jack Dylan Grazer (It, Shazam). Others included are singer Jordan Kristine Seamon, Faith Alabi, Francesca Scorsese (Martin Scorsese’s daughter in her on-screen debut), Ben Taylor, Corey Knight, Tom Mercier and Sebastiano Pigazzi. A specific release date is not known yet.
4. Little Fires Everywhere (limited series, Hulu)
The Kerry-Washington-Reese Witherspoon series, adapted from the Celeste Ng novel, chronicles “the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.” The series will drop on March 18.
5. The Photograph (film, Universal)
The Black romance drama is making a triumphant comeback in 2020 with Stella Meghie’s The Photograph. The film stars Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Chanté Adams, Y’lan Noel, Chelsea Peretti, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Rob Morgan, Courtney B. Vance and Kingsley Ben-Adir. The official description reads, “When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton (Rae) hurt, angry and full of questions. When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae finds herself on a journey delving into her mother’s early life and ignites a powerful, unexpected romance with a rising-star journalist, Michael Block (Stanfield).” It will be released on Valentine’s Day this year.
6. Untitled Fred Hampton project (film, Warner Bros.)
Initially titled Jesus is My Homeboy, Warner Bros. and MACRO’s upcoming Fred Hampton film is set for release in August 2020. A previously-reported logline reads, “The film will follow the rise and untimely demise of Hampton as seen through [William] O’Neal’s eyes. It will explore how the FBI infiltrated the Black Panthers, the psychology of their informant and the notorious assassination of the young political leader who died at the age of only 21.” Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Ashton Sanders and Algee Smith star.
7. Candyman (film, MGM)
Jordan Peele with another one! Produced by Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta, the film is a “spiritual sequel” to the classic horror flick. It will be set in “the now-gentrified section of Chicago where the Cabrini-Green housing projects once stood.” The MGM film will be released in theaters on June 12, 2020. It stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.
8. Coming 2 America (film, Paramount)
The Eddie Murphy comeback continues with the long-awaited sequel to Coming to America. Much of the plot of the highly-anticipated film, Coming 2 America, is still under wraps. So far, what we do know is that the sequel will follow the adventures of Prince Akeem (Murphy) as he realizes that he has a long-lost heir to the throne in America. The expansive cast of new and returning actors includes Murphy, Arsenio Hall as Semmi, Jermaine Fowler, Kiki Layne, Leslie Jones, Shari Headley, John Amos, Tracy Morgan, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, Paul Bates, Louie Anderson, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Rick Ross, Nomzamo Mbatha, Garcelle Beauvais, Rotimi, Teyana Taylor, Michael Blackson and Davido.
9. Respect (film, MGM)
There are two Aretha Franklin projects coming in 2020. One of them is the film, Respect, starring Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. The film is directed by Liesl Tommy, the first Black woman to be nominated for a Tony Award for Best Direction of A Play. Straight Outta Compton producer Scott Bernstein and Grammy Award-winning music producer Harvey Mason, Jr. are producers. In addition to Hudson, the all-star cast includes Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Heather Headley, Tate Donovan and Skye Dakota Turner.
10. Covers (film, Focus Features)
Tracee Ellis Ross is set to star in her first film role in a decade for this comedy film set against a backdrop “among the talent, fame, and fast-paced world of Hollywood’s music scene.” Breakout star Kelvin Harrison Jr., Dakota Johnson, Zoë Chao, Bill Pullman and Ice Cube also star. Nisha Ganatra is the director. The film will be in theaters on May 8, 2020.
11. Charm City Kings (film, Sony Pictures Classics)
Set to premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Charm City Kings is a scripted film based on the documentary 12 O’ Clock Boys. The film was written by Sherman Payne and is based on a story from Chris Boyd, Kirk Sullivan and Barry Jenkins. It stars Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Meek Mill, Will Catlett, Teyonah Parris, Donielle Tremaine Hansley and Kezii Curtis. Angel Manuel Soto is the director. Here’s the film’s description: Mouse (Winston) desperately wants to join Baltimore’s infamous Midnight Clique, a fearless group of dirt bike riders who rule the summertime streets. When Midnight’s leader, Blax (Mill), takes 14-year-old Mouse under his wing, Mouse soon finds himself torn between the straight-and-narrow and a road filled with fast money and violence. It will premiere in theaters in April after it bows at the festival.
12. Soul (film, Disney/Pixar)
Soul has already been gaining buzz because it is the first Pixar film with a Black lead. In Soul, everyone has their soul trained before they become a person. It will revolve around a middle school band teacher who plays jazz on the side, though he has never been able to get his big break to play at the clubs that he wants to. [When he…dies?], the musician’s soul must find a way back. The film starring Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey alongside Questlove, Phylicia Rashad and Daveed Diggs will hit theaters on June 19, 2020.
13. Tenet (film, Warner Bros.)
Christopher Nolan’s long-awaited next film is coming soon and it is led by John David Washington. It also stars Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh and Himesh Patel. Not much is known about the plot of the film, but what is clear is that it seems to be an espionage thriller on an international scale with lots of action and…time travel? It’ll be released in July.
14.. Bad Boys for Life (film, Sony)
The third and final film in the Bad Boys film franchise stars Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nunez, Kate Del Castillo, Nicky Jam and Joe Pantoliano. It’ll chronicle one last jam-packed mission for the iconic duo. The film will be in theaters on January 17.
15. Bridgerton (series, Netflix)
Bridgerton is the first Netflix series to come out of Shonda Rhimes’ mega-deal at the streaming service. Rege-Jean Page is one of the leads for the period drama set in the 1800s. Golda Rosheuvel, Ruby Barker and Adjoa Andoh are other Black series regulars in the ensemble cast. It is based on Julia Queen’s best-selling book of the same name set in the “sexy, lavish and competitive world of Regency London high society.” An exact release date is not known.
16. Dispatches from Elsewhere (series, AMC)
AMC’s new anthology series boasts a buzzy, high profile cast of Jason Segel, Andre 3000 and Sally Field, who star with relative newcomer Eve Lindley. The ten-hour series is “centered around four ordinary people who feel there’s something missing in their lives, but they can’t quite put their finger on what it is. This diverse foursome is brought together by chance — or perhaps it’s by design — when they stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life. As they begin to accept the mysterious Dispatches from Elsewhere challenges, they come to find that the mystery winds deeper than they imagined, and their eyes are opened to a world of possibility and magic.”
17. Y: The Last Man (series, FX)
Lashana Lynch is one of the stars of FX’s upcoming series Y: The Last Man. Diane Lane, Barry Keoghan, Imogen Poots, Amber Tamblyn, Juliana Canfield and Marin Ireland also star. Here’s FX’s description: “All of the men are dead. But one. Based on the DC comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y traverses a world of women — exploring gender, race, class and survival.”
18. High Fidelity (series, Hulu)
Zoë Kravitz stars in the Hulu series adaptation of the novel and classic film. The series also stars Da’Vine Joy Randolph as well as David H. Holmes, Jake Lacy and Kingsley Ben-Adir. According to the official description: “A departure from Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel and beloved 2000 film, Hulu’s High Fidelity centers on Rob [Kravitz]…a female record store owner in the rapidly gentrified neighborhood of Crown Heights, Brooklyn who revisits past relationships through music and pop culture, while trying to get over her one true love.”
19. Queen Sono (series, Netflix)
The first African original series fully produced by Netflix is set to premiere in February. The spy thriller is led by former Quantico star Pearl Thusi. She will play “a highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life.”
20. The Underground Railroad (television series, Amazon)
While this series hasn’t exactly been confirmed for this year, we had to include Barry Jenkins’ first major television project on this list. The series went into production last year, so there is a very, very good chance that we could see it in 2020.
Photo: Warner Bros./Amazon/HBO
From Harlem to Hollywood, get the Black entertainment news you need in your inbox daily.