These nostalgic cult classics may not have won Oscars, but they’ve delivered tons of iconic quotes, life lessons, and may have even inspired a few stand out celebrity Halloween costumes (Keri Hilson and Serge Ibaka as Lisa McDowell and Prince akeem — genius). This time of year, there’s nothing better than snuggling up and having a Netflix night complete with the flicks that made you laugh, cry, and discover your first Hollywood crush (looking at you, Morris Chestnut).
In honor of Black History Month, here are the 10 best black cult classics streaming on Netflix right now. Since we know Netflix likes to change their movie line-ups like underwear, we’ve saved you the trouble of a search.
Coming to America (1988)
This romantic comedy is such a classic that “black cult classic” is simply too confining of a description to categorize it with. Legendary comedian Eddie Murphy plays a determined yet sheltered African prince who has touched down in New York City in a last-ditch effort to find true love before being forced into an arranged marriage. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that isn’t familiar with this film and the many characters that Murphy brought to life in the way only a comedic genius can.
Poetic Justice (1993)
I liken the character of Justice to a solar eclipse — every once in a while, they come around and catch all of our attention. From the legendary box braids to the snippy one-liners, there wasn’t one girl I knew who didn’t want to look like or possess the allure of Janet Jackson as the female lead. This is one of those classics that we’re lucky to have streaming on Netflix, because it’s literally impossible to get sick of.
In this drama, four mischievous around-the-way kids find themselves on a power-hungry rampage in their Harlem neighborhood. Late rapper and actor Tupac gives the performance of life in the role of Bishop, the headstrong and irrational leader of the pack who becomes obsessed with maintaining the crew’s influence in their hood, or having “the juice.” The backdrop of this flick is perfectly embedded in an homage to hip-hop in its glory days of the early ’90′s. Aside from that, you might be able to pick up a few style pointers, since the street style of the ’90s has made a bold re-entrance in fashion today.
Eve’s Bayou (1997)
This dark, psychological thriller uncoils the secrets of a well-to-do but deeply flawed family living in rural Louisiana during the ’60s. It’s told through the eyes of 10-year Eve Baptiste (Jurnee Smollett — real life sister of Empire‘s Jamal Lyon), who discovers the transgressions of her cheating father, while dealing with a mother, who, despite being loving and regal, is in denial. As if the lurid details of her family’s secrets aren’t enough to process, she’s also realizing her psychic gifts and is taken under the wing of her Aunt Mozell, who also has future-seeing premonitions. Child actress Smollett carried this movie with acting chops that would put her older peers to shame.
Movies like Barbershop manage to leave such an imprint on pop culture because of how incredibly relateable they are. The plot is simple, set inside a southside Chicago barbershop and anchored by good old trash-talking, controversial debates (like the one about O.J. Simpson, which we’ve all had behind closed doors), and the frictions between its characters. Ice Cube and Eve also provide a decent execution of rapper-turned-actor with their portrayals as Calvin (barbershop owner) and Terri (the only female barber).
Baby Boy (2001)
“Jodyy my Jody.” Let’s face it, ladies, aside from the glorious moments of seeing Tyrese‘s perfect bone structure and stunning smile flash across your screen, there is something to be said about what his character, Jody, represents. Every woman at some point has dealt with a baby boy — a guy that has all the potential to get it right but can’t seem to grow the fuck up. Jody is straddling the fence between being an honest, working family man, and satisfying his own selfish desires. The conflicts between his mother, whom he lives with, the mothers of his two children, and the street life he’s desperate to leave behind all tug away at him. But trust, there are some moments of humor that lift your spirits along the way.
Two Can Play That Game (2001)
If all is fair in love and war, then it’s safe to say Shante (Vivica Fox) unleashed World War III in this romantic comedy. When boyfriend Keith (Chestnut) takes interest in Shante’s arch enemy Connie (Gabrielle Union), Shante puts her “ten-day plan” into motion to toy with Keith’s head and make him come crawling back. It doesn’t exactly check the boxes of cinematic excellence, but if you’re in the movie for a good old fashioned cheesy rom-com, press play.
Hav Plenty (1997)
Dig deep into the archives of black film and you’ll discover this gem. Lee Plenty is a broke would-be writer with a terrible dating streak. He finds luck in Havilland Savage — his rich and beautiful old-time friend. When she invites him to her home for New Year’s Eve, they start to build up a romance and things get pretty interesting. This one’s a guilty-pleasure flick for sure.
The cast of Black Ink Crew gives a lesson in Black history.
Black Ink Crew