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21 Captivating Biopics

Jennifer Hudson in "Respect" MGM

Looking for real-life stories of Black pioneers, icons, and agents of change? In honor of Black History Month, we’ve collected fascinating biopics covering artists and activists that are perfect for your next movie night. Scroll below – and don’t forget the popcorn!

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Starring: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Tyler James Williams


The film follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she has an affair.

King Richard

Starring: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton

Warner Bros.

Based on the real-life tennis greats, the film tells the story of a father determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena, into history.

Judas and the Black Messiah

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback

Warner Bros.

The biographical crime drama follows FBI informant William O'Neal, who infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton.


Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni

Warner Bros.

The story of Jackie Robinson, the first Black baseball player to break the color barrier and play in the Major League.

Antwone Fisher

Starring: Denzel Washington, Derek Luke, Joy Bryant

Fox Searchlight

A young navy man is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman.


Starring: Jeffrey Wright, David Bowie, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman


A lightly fictionalized account of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his struggles with fame, drugs, and identity.


Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald


The true story of a music icon, following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in church to international superstardom.


Starring: Queen Latifah, Michael K. Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mo’Nique


HBO’s film focuses on blues singer Bessie Smith and her rise to fame in the 1920’s and ‘30s.

Get on Up

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis

Unversal Studios

A look at singer James Brown’s rise from poverty to becoming the “Godfather of Soul.”


Starring: Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom, Jr.

Focus Features

The story of Harriet Tubman, following her escape from salvery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes.

Hidden Figures

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner

Fox 2000 Pictures

Loosely based on the non-fiction book of the same name, the drama follows a team of mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge

Starring: Halle Berry, Brent Spiner, Obba Babatundé, Loretta Devine


A look at the life and career of Dorothy Dandridge — the first Black woman to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress — from club circuit, to movie star, to her untimely death.

Malcolm X

Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman, Jr.

Warner Bros.

A tribute to controversial Black Nationalist leader, Malcolm X, from his early life to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.


Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Sterling K. Brown

Open Road Films

The story of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, and one of his first cases, the State of Connecticut v. Joseph Spell.


Starring: Jamal Woolard, Angela Bassett, Derek Luke, Anthony Mackie

Fox Searchlight

A dramatization of the life and death of Christopher Wallace, The Notorious B.I.G.


Starring: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Clifton Powell, Regina King

Universal Pictures

The life and career of legendary rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles.

Roxanne, Roxanne

Starring: Chanté Adams, Mahershala Ali, Nia Long


The story of teen battle rap champ Roxanne Shanté in ‘80s Queens, New York.


Starring: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles

Columbia Pictures

The triumphs and controversies of boxer Muhammad Ali as he broke convention — both in the ring and out — from 1964 to 1974.

Straight Outta Compton

Starring: O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown, Jr.

Universal Pictures

Revolutionary rap group N.W.A. changes hip hop culture with music and tales of Compton life.

What’s Love Got to Do with It

Starring: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis

Touchstone Pictures

The life of singer Tina Turner and her relationship with her abusive husband, Ike Turner.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Starring: Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

Columbia Pictures

A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he’s about to begin a life-changing professional career.


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