Top 10 Best Movies About Racism

Best Movies About Racism

Racism has always been a shameful mar in our history as a species. Good thing the negative effects of this prejudice has been documented in plenty of media materials including films.

Here are 10 of the best movies about racism ranked and reviewed.

Top 10 Best Movies About Racism

10A Time to Kill (1996)

Best Movies About Racism A Time to Kill (1996)
Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill (1996)

A Time to Kill (1996) presents us with a complicated moral dilemma.

Here we see a young Black girl get raped and almost killed by the cruelty of two white supremacists. Taking justice into his own hands, the girl’s father goes out to find the rapists in the courthouse and kills them. He is then put on trial for the murder of the two. Was his act justified? Should he have let the courts decide on the fate of his daughter’s assailants? What would you have done in his position?

9Mississippi Burning (1988)

Movies About Racism Mississippi Burning (1988)
Mississippi Burning (1988)

In Mississippi Burning (1988), we follow a pair of detectives on a mission to solve the disappearance of three civil rights activists down in the deep south. Given the nature of the disappearance and the town people’s uncooperative attitude, the two must find alternative ways to find the person responsible for the crime.

The film’s story is based on the real-life disappearance and murder of three civil rights workers during the mid-1960s. Despite facing controversies regarding the script’s fictionalization of the event, the film went on to take home six Academy Awards.

812 Years a Slave (2013)

Movies About Racism 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Another film based on a true story, this time on a book of the same name, 12 Years a Slave (2013) details the real-life experiences of Solomon Northup, a free man who was tricked into 12 years of slavery.

Playing out as a historical drama, the film perfectly captured the hardships that Northup faced during the 12 years he spent as a slave and the emotional toll it took on his spirit.

Dubbed as one of 2013’s best films, the movie also won Oscar awards for best picture and best-adapted screenplay.

7American History X (1998)

Best Movies About Racism American History X (1998)
Edward Norton in American History X (1998)

Featuring award-winning actor Edward Norton in his best role to date, American History X (1998) details the story Derek Vinyard, a leader of a Neo-Nazi movement in America.

After being convicted to serve prison time when he killed two young black boys, he returns home a reformed man only to find that his brother is going down the same dangerous path he did before.

Although a little too preachy at times, the film still excellently managed to portray the complexity of the issue of racism and how an individual’s mind works.

6La Haine (1996)

Movies About Racism La haine (1995)
Vincent Cassel in La haine (1995)

In La Haine (1996), we see three friends of different ethnicities come together to rebel against the police who they blame for torturing their friend.

Here we see a France that’s torn up and wrecked by chaos and racial divisions. The film feels so real and raw it sometimes looks like a documentary instead of a fiction film making it one of the most powerful movies ever made about racism.

5Do the Right Thing (1989)

Best Movies About Racism Do the Right Thing (1989)
Do the Right Thing (1989)

Set in New York, the film centers on the racial tension between Blacks and Latinos one afternoon during a heatwave. Directed by and starring Spike Lee, the comedy-drama film’s tensions begin in a seemingly simple argument about a mural on a pizza shops wall and ends in an unexpected but tragic manner.

The film was praised by critics for its intelligent and nuanced portrayal of racial tensions. Some even consider it to be one of the most important films to be made in the 80s.

4Code Unknown (2000)

Movies About Racism Code Unknown (2000)
Code Unknown (2000)

Although not one of Michael Haneke’s better films, Code Unknown (2000) still deserves a spot on our list of best movies about racism.

Here we follow an actress who’s thirsty for fame, her photographer boyfriend, an illegal Romanian immigrant and a kind teacher who sympathizes with the marginalized. Although unconnected with each other, they’ll find themselves in the middle of legal and racial issues after one mindless act of littering.

Haneke, through his filmmaking and manipulative techniques, then raises important questions to the viewer about racism.

3The Pianist (2002)

Movies About Racism The Pianist (2002)
Adrien Brody in The Pianist (2002)

Another historical drama based on a book of memoirs, The Pianist (2002) shows the atrocious genocide of Jews during the Second World War through the eyes of the titular pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman.

Played excellently by actor Adrien Brody, Szpilman is a radio station pianist. He would eventually find himself separated and at the center of the failed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

After years of hiding, he ends up in the attic of a kind German officer near the end of the war. The officer feeds the pianist in exchange for Szpilman’s skillful piano playing.

2Schindler’s List (1993)

Movies About Racism Schindler's List (1993)
Kamil Krawiec in Schindler’s List (1993)

Of course, how could we forget this one?

One of the most cited movies in film history, Schindler’s List (1993) tells the real-life story of Oskar Schindler, a man who defied Nazi rule by saving thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during the Second World War.

Based on the novel, Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, the film offers a beacon of light for man as it proves that while humanity is capable of unspeakable acts against its own kind, it is equally capable of fighting against that same evil through kindness.

1Shadows (1959)

Shadows (1959) may not present a story as emotional as the others on this best movies list, but it is the most effective in discussing the topic of racism and racial conflicts.

Directed by early indie film master John Cassavetes, the film tells the story of a lighter skinned black woman who forms a relationship with a white man. Here’s the catch though, the man didn’t realize that she was black until he saw her dark-skinned brother. Understandably, this causes some conflicts within their relationship.

What do you think about the films that made it onto our list of the 10 best movies about racism? Got any more recommendations you’d like us to consider? Tell us your ideas in the comments below.