The 10 Best Black Music Movies

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WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? (1993) A fictionalized version of Tina Turner’s memoir I, Tina, the movie starring Angela Bassett and Larry Fishbburne was a critical and commercial success. Bassset would receive an Academy Award nomination for the role, losing, many feel, unfairly, to Holly Hunter in The Piano. (It should be noted that as good as Bassett was, Hunter, playing a mute, never spoke a line in the film she won for.) Fishburne, who turned down the movie 5 times, but changed his mind when Bassett was cast, would lose to Tom Hanks in Philadelphia. The film was a huge part of Black pop culture to the point that Ike Turner said that the many scenes fabricated for dramatic purposes damaged his reputation. The infamous “Eat the cake, Anna Mae,” referenced by Jay-Z in his rap on the Beyonce song “Drunk In Love,” didn’t happen the way it was filmed and in fact, Turner’s Buddhist girlfriend, played by Vanessa Bell Armstrong, was a composite of several real-life people.

FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS (2003) Although it generated mixed reviews and did so-so at the box office, The Fighting Temptations is a little gem of a music movie with a positive Christian message, rare at the time in a Black studio supported film. Originally conceived as a starring vehicle for Beyonce, Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays Darrin Hill, a down-on-his -luck ad exec who returns to his Georgia hometown to get his church choir prepared for a gospel competition. Though he’s in it for the money, he eventually falls in love with Lilly, a singer played by Beyonce. The soundtrack includes a mixture of gospel and secular stars including Destiny’s Child, Shirley Caesar, Ann Nesby and the O’Jays and did better than the film although the film was a modest success. Though all of the primary actors signed on for a sequel, it’s doubtful that will ever happen.

RAY (2004) It took director Tyler Hackford 15 years to get the true story of Ray Charles’ life and career made. That worked out well for Jamie Foxx, who starred in the the film and won an Oscar for the role. Ray is the second highest grossing Black musical on this list, earning over $125 million. Reviews were mostly positive and co-star Regina King was singled out for her performance as one of Ray’s paramours from the Raelettes. His long-suffering second wife, Della, was married to him for 22 years. In the movie, she’s played by current Scandal star Kerry Washington.

DREAMGIRLS (2006) The film version of the acclaimed stage play that originated with Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jennifer Holliday and Loretta Devine, the film was expected to be Beyonce’s Oscar bid. Instead the Best Supporting Actress Oscar went to Jennifer Hudson, the American Idol finalist who was the movie’s breakout star. The movie, which included stars Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx, was the highest budgeted All-Black film in movie history. It would go on to make $154 million. The film and the play, widely believed to be based on the Supremes rise to stardom at Motown was a critical and commercial success, except with the Motown figures it was purportedly based on. Diana Ross, who didn’t like the Broadway version, claimed to have never seen the movie. Smokey Robinson asked for an apology to Berry Gordy, whom he says was misrepresented by the Curtis Taylor, Jr. character. But Supreme Mary Wilson said she was moved by the movie, saying it was “closer to the truth than they even know.”

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