Coming-of-age movies, if done properly, hold an undeniable amount of power. Every young person longs to be seen, understood and represented in the right manner. These types of movies serve as a great guide throughout the journey of self-discovery.
There’s no denying that movies such as Mean Girls, The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Call Me By Your Name are indeed timeless classics. But, it’s necessary that every unique teenager gets to see themselves on the big screen. Let us introduce you to 7 Black coming-of-age movies that we can’t live without.
7 Fast Color (2018)
An arthouse superhero movie directed by a woman? Count us in. Julia Hart has outdone herself with this superhero drama masterpiece starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ruth in the main role. The plot tells a dystopian story about three generations of Black women with superpowers. Ruth distances herself from her family and the world—especially law enforcement. They want to catch her, control her and do tests on her. It’s disappointing that this indie movie got buried under the hype around Avengers: Endgame, as it was released around the same time. Fast Color deserved a lot more than $47,000 revenues across 25 theaters in the US. It has an intimate feel to it with a lot of soul, great leading actress, and an amazing soundtrack.
6 Boyz n The Hood (1991)
Boyz n The Hood was a significant first for a lot of people. Director John Singleton made his feature debut with this spectacle and went on to become the youngest and first Black person to be nominated for Best Director at the 64th Academy Awards. The movie also paved the way for actors such as Regina King, Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Morris Chestnut. The plot itself follows Tre Styles (Gooding Jr), who has to move to Southern California because of his father and has to accommodate himself in the hood environment. Not only does the movie discuss racial issues and boyhood, so many careers are also indebted to this pillar in Black cinema.
5 The Wood (1999)
The Wood walked, so the Hangover series could run. Now that’s a big statement to make, but considering how similar the plot lines are, it isn’t far-fetched. The only difference? While The Hangover‘s done in a comedic PG way, The Wood was produced in a lot more nostalgic and softer manner. Roland (Taye Diggs) is about to get married, but gets cold feet upon realizing the heaviness of the situation. While he goes missing, and his best friends Slim (Richard T.Jones) and Mike (Omar Epps) search for him, the story flashes back to tell the beautiful story of their friendship formed at high school.
4 Rafiki (2018)
Rafiki (‘friend’ in Swahili) is the first Kenyan movie ever to be invited to the internationally renowned festival of Cannes. The coming-of-age plot tells the story of two girls, Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), who, despite the homophobic Kenyan environment and authorities, end up falling in love with each other. The movie was banned in Kenya because it was thought to “promote lesbianism.” Nevertheless, it beautifully shows how the political rivalry between the girls’ families and the conservative society are not enough to stop Kena and Ziki from pursuing happiness and love.
3 Roll Bounce (2005)
Roll Bounce is a 2005 classic, telling the story of Xavier Curtis (Bow Wow), who’s a leader of a roller skating crew in the 1970s Chicago. Due to their usual skating spot being closed down for the summer, they have to train elsewhere. This eventually creates a rivalry between Xavier’s crew and the Sweetness team. It really is a throwback coming-of-age film for the thirty-somethings of today. The movie is really fun to watch, owing to the incredible skating and the great casting of such as Bow Wow himself, Nick Cannon, Meagan Good and Brandon T.Jackson.
2 Pariah (2011)
Pariah is the first movie about a Black queer woman shown in theaters nationwide by a Hollywood studio. We can owe our thanks to the amazing Dee Rees, who has also recently had her hands in co-writing a few episodes in the new season of Sex Education. Pariah stars Adepero Oduye (Alike), who has since gone on to play Sarah Wilson in Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The plot itself follows a 17-year-old Alike who is trying to come in terms with her sexuality. The nighttime is the only period when she can properly express and embrace her identity. During the day, she uses her poetry to express herself while she’s forced to try and fit in as a traditionally feminine woman. On top of dealing with gender and family issues, the movie has a realistically happy ending.
1 Moonlight (2016)
There’s so much to say about the cinematic masterpiece that is Moonlight, but let’s start with its amazing achievements: an all-Black cast and a second-lowest-grossing film earned 8 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, winning three for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali and Best Adapted Screenplay for Barry Jenkins and McCraney. The plot follows Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) as he stumbles through three stages of his life: abusive childhood, adolescence and early adult life. While battling life, Chiron struggles to come in terms with his sexuality. The aesthetics, such as the urban setting edging up to the ocean and the darkness of the nights, are impeccable. Scenes, such as the diner scene, are truly the height of romantic writing with its weightlessness and the soft tension. The movie deserved all the critical love it was met with.
The original Scream actor says that the horror classic has some problems, despite still being a classic.
About The Author