5. Killer of Sheep (1978)
> Directed by: Charles Burnett
> Starring: Henry G. Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy
> Where to stream: Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, AMC on Demand, Microsoft Store, Redbox, Vudu, FandangoNOW, Hoopla, Apple iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, VUDU Free
Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep” is a downbeat examination of the life of a slaughterhouse worker and his family living in the Los Angeles Watts neighborhood. The film was made while Burnett was still a student at UCLA for only $10,000, and it was eventually added to the U.S. National Film Registry in 1990. The movie has received near-universal praise from critics, earning a 97% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Boyz n the Hood (1991)
> Directed by: John Singleton
> Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir
> Where to stream: Vudu, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Amazon Video, Microsoft Store, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, fuboTV, Showtime, Showtime Amazon Channel, Redbox, FandangoNOW, Apple iTunes
John Singleton became the first African American nominated for a Best Director Oscar for the film about the experiences, relationships, and aspirations of three young black men living in the impoverished Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, and Laurence Fishburne star in the film. The Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says the film “observes urban America with far more depth and compassion than many of the like-minded films its success inspired. “Boyz n the Hood” holds a 96% Freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 93% approval rating among audiences.
3. 13th (2016)
> Directed by: Ava DuVernay
> Starring: Melina Abdullah, Michelle Alexander, Cory Booker
> Where to stream: Netflix
Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) directed this Netflix-produced documentary about the U.S. prison system and how it relates to the country’s history of racial inequality. Interview subjects range from Angela Davis to former New York Mayor David Dinkins. On Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of critics and 91% of audience members liked the Oscar-nominated “13th” — a reference to the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery.
2. O.J.: Made in America (2016)
> Directed by: Ezra Edelman
> Starring: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Albanese, Muhammad Ali
> Where to stream: Apple iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, Sling TV
Ezra Edelman’s “O.J.: Made in America” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The documentary tells the story of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose murder trial revealed the racial fissures in America. Edelman also won an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming. The film has a perfect score among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 97% rating from audiences. It also has an 8.9 out of 10 rating among IMDb users.
1. Do the Right Thing (1989)
> Directed by: Spike Lee
> Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
> Where to stream: Google Play Movies, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Video, AMC on Demand, Microsoft Store, FandangoNOW, Apple iTunes, Fandango
“Do the Right Thing” is Spike Lee’s film about how hate and bigotry touch off violence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year. Powered by a cast that included Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and John Turturro, the film has a Freshness rating of 92%, and a 90% rating from audiences. Lee received the first of his four Oscar nominations, this one for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.