A Definitive Ranking Of Black Biopics

How high does your favorite rank?

24. Man In The Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story

Blueprint Entertainment, Nomadic Pictures / Via youtube.com

Questionably Starring: Flex Alexander as Michael Jackson

Flex Alexander as Michael Jackson never, ever, ever should have happened.

23. King

Filmways Television / Via youtube.com

Starring: Paul Winfield as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Winfield’s portrayal of King falls short. Waaaay short.

22. Winnie Mandela

Ironwood Films, Equinoxe Films / Via youtube.com

Starring: Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Mandela, Terrance Howard as Nelson Mandela

Featuring Jennifer Hudson in an uncomfortable Xhosa accent. And why would anyone cast Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela?

21. The Rosa Parks Story

Chotzen/Jenner Productions, CBS, Come Sunday, Jaffe/Braunstein Films / Via youtube.com

Starring: Angela Bassett as Rosa Parks

She certainly looked the part, but the movie itself is a bit forgettable.

20. 42

Warner Brothers Entertainment, Legendary Films / Via youtube.com

Starring: Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson

Not the worst movie in the world. Kinda cheesy, though.

19. The Ernest Green Story

Walt Disney Television / Via youtube.com

Starring: Morris Chestnut as Ernest Green

A solid flick about the Little Rock 9. About as effective as any Disneyfied story of racism.

18. Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story

POP Films, VH1 Productions / Via youtube.com

Starring: Drew Sidora as T-Boz, Niatia “Lil’ Mama” Kirkland as Left Eye, KeKe Palmer as Chili

The fact that Lil Mama actually managed to make a believable Left Eye is enough to keep this movie from the bottom of the list.

17. Why Do Fools Fall In Love

Rhino Films, Warner Brothers / Via youtube.com

Starring: Larenz Tate as Frankie Lymon

A fun, slightly campy movie that manages to tug at your heart strings. Special over-the-top appearance by Little Richard.

16. Ray

Universal Pictures, Bristol Bay Productions, Anvil Films / Via youtube.com

Starring: Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles

A visually stunning movie, but beyond Foxx’s Ray Charles impersonation, it felt a bit flat.

15. Ali

Columbia Pictures Corporation, Forward Pass, Initial Entertainment Group (IEG) / Via youtube.com

Starring: Will Smith as Muhammad Ali, Jamie Foxx as Ali’s trainer, Drew ‘Bundini’ Brown

Will Smith made a convincing Ali, but at nearly three hours, this movie is waaaaay too long.

14. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Videovision Entertainment / Via youtube.com

Starring: Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela

Pay attention, Terrence Howard — this is how you play Nelson Mandela.

13. Notorious

Fox Searchlight Pictures, Voletta Wallace Films, Bystorm Films / Via youtube.com

Starring: Jamal Woolard, Derek Luke (of Antoine Fisher) as Puff Daddy, Angela Bassett as Voletta Wallace

A surprisingly good telling of the life and death of Biggie Smalls. Would have been ranked higher if Derek Luke’s Diddy bop was just a little bit tighter.

12. Introducing Dorothy Dandridge

City Entertainment, Esparza / Katz Productions, Home Box Office (HBO) / Via youtube.com

Starring: Halle Berry as Dorothy Dandridge

Halle Berry made a beautiful Dorothy Dandridge, but the lip syncing could have used some work.

11. The Josephine Baker Story

Anglia Television, HBO Films, RHI Entertainment / Via youtube.com

Starring: Lynn Whitfield as Josephine Baker

Whitfield dedicated herself to this role, going topless to recreate Josephine Baker’s famous Danse Sauvage.

10. Basquiat

Eleventh Street Production, Jon Kilik, Miramax Films / Via youtube.com

Starring: Jeffrey Wright as Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jeffrey Wright can basically do no wrong.

9. Lady Sings the Blues

Jobete Productions, Motown Productions, Paramount Pictures / Via youtube.com

Starring: Diana Ross as Billie Holiday, Billy Dee Williams

Diana Ross was absolutely stunning, and the musical performances are great.

8. The Jacksons: An American Dream

De Passe Entertainment, KJS Films, Motown Productions / Via youtube.com

Starring: Alex Burrall, Jason Weaver, and Wylie Draper as Michael Jackson; Angela Bassett as Katherine Jackson

OK, so it wasn’t an Oscar-worthy movie, but it gave us so many great quotable lines. Go to bed, Joseph. Go! To! Bed!

7. The Hurricane

Azoff Entertainment, Beacon Communications, Universal Picture / Via youtube.com

Starring: Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

A very solid, emotional performance by Washington, who spends a delightful amount of time shirtless.

6. Antwone Fischer

Fox Searchlight Pictures, Mundy Lane Entertainment / Via youtube.com

Starring: Derek Luke as Antwone Fischer, featuring Denzel Washington as Dr. Davenport

If you didn’t cry when Antwone met his family for the first time, you have no soul.

5. Little Richard

Davis Entertainment, Fox Television Studios / Via youtube.com

Starring: Leon as Little Richard. Also randomly featured Warren G as a member of the band.

It has Leon in it. A biopic with Leon is guaranteed at least a No. 5 spot. Shout out to Pancake 31!

4. Talk To Me

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Mark Gordon Productions, Mark Gordon Company, Pelagius Films / Via youtube.com

Starring: Don Cheadle as Petey Green, featuring Taraji P. Henson and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Cheadle sizzled with his portrayal of colorful Washington, D.C., legend Petey Green. Seeing him dance around in his tightie whities was a definite plus.

3. The Temptations

De Passe Entertainment, Hallmark Entertainment / Via youtube.com

Starring: Charles Whitfield as Otis Williams, D.B. Woodside as Blue, Terron Brooks as Eddie Kendricks, Chrisian Peyton as Paul Williams, and Leon as David Ruffin

Leon’s performance as David Ruffin pretty much makes this an instant classic. Ain’t nobody comin’ to see you, Otis!

2. What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Touchstone Pictures / Via youtube.com

Starring: Angela Bassett as Tina Turner, Laurence Fishburne as Ike Turner

Angela Bassett killed as Miss Tina, matching the energy of her iconic musical performances, and Fishburne delivered some long-lasting quotables. You tryna help Ike? You tryna help Ike?!

1. Malcolm X

Largo International http://N.V., JVC Entertainment Networks, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks / Via youtube.com

Starring: Denzel Washington as Malcolm X, Angela Bassett as Betty Shabazz

That Washington did not win an Oscar for this performance is one of the greatest tragedies of American cinematic history.

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Thirty-something from Louisville, KY. Made of bourbon and awesome.
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