DAR Films: 6 Underrated Black Biopics

By @TrueGodImmortal

In the black cinema world, there have been multiple instances where someone's life story gets brought to the big screen. A number of times, we either know their story very well, or in some cases, we barely know their story at all. Biopics have been a normal part of Hollywood for decades now, but in the black cinema world, they are few and far between. However, some like Ray, The Temptations, The Jacksons: An American Dream, and a few others showcased legendary figures on a higher level. Then, there are some biopics that are good for their time, and have an impact, but perhaps not as prevalent as the films discussed prior. Well, today, I wanted to take a look at 6 underrated black biopics that should have been given more credit since the time of release. Let's take a look.

*Miles Ahead (2016)

-I have watched this twice and thought to myself, "there really was no one better to play Niles Davis than Don Cheadle" and whether or not someone looks more like Miles than Don, his execution of the role is superb. When it was released, I'll be honest, I was surprised that this movie didn't have more attention. Showcasing the career of Miles Davis as he tries to get back on track musically, this film is full of scenes during the making of Bitches Brew, Kind Of Blue, and more of his best work. The beauty of the storytelling here is the narrative is free flowing and the pacing of the film never drags on. This is an excellent biopic and one that deserves a lot more credit and attention.

*Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)

-A shockingly well executed biopic, Why Do Fools Fall In Love shows the story of Frankie Lymon and the wives and women he left behind. This biopic is a bit different from the norm in how it was played out, but for the most part, I think this is one of those movies that you have to watch a few times to fully appreciate. I loved that the story centered around the estate of Frankie, and that he wasn't the main focus. Instead, his wives were the focus as they fought to see who would win the estate and who would be named his legally surviving spouse. All in all, Why Do Fools Fall In Love was a very good watch.

*Get On Up (2014)

-Chadwick Boseman has played literally every important black figure it seems, but perhaps his best performance comes in the form of playing James Brown. Long before Chadwick was Thurgood Marshall or Black Panther, he caught my attention with his portrayal of the music legend and the Godfather of Soul. We learned a little more about James Brown in this movie, but what we learned most is that Chadwick can definitely take any role and own it. With a solid supporting cast, the film flows very well, but the main thing that will draw you in is definitely the performance from Chadwick. He becomes James Brown and delivers a performance for the ages.

*The Hurricane (1999)

-It is funny. For all of the talk about Denzel's career, it is rarely mentioned that he played one of his greatest roles ever as The Hurricane. Truthfully, American Gangster is one of my favorite biopics, but you'll hear it mentioned much more than this excellent portrayal of Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who had his life ruined and his title taken away when he was wrongfully accused of murder. Denzel flawlessly executes this performance and he was 100% robbed of the Oscar (he won the Golden Globe... and 90% of the time when an actor wins the Golden Globe, they usually get the Oscar as well...). The Hurricane isn't my favorite Denzel movie personally, but it is easily one of his best roles and a top 5 film in his catalog, as well as one of the better biopics.

*Ali (2001)

-Often times, there are biopics that capture the world and their attention, and this is one of them. While it didn't become the massive box office success it should have, Ali definitely earned Will Smith a lot of praise for his acting skills and how seamlessly he transitioned into his role as Muhammad Ali. However, it's a bit underrated when you consider the other biopics that get discussed. This movie allows us to go through the prime of Ali's life, watching as he prepares for multiple fights and ending the movie following his greatest triumph against George Foreman. Ali was such a legend and so charismatic that it was tough to imagine anyone being able to bring him to life, but if anyone had the ability to do it right, it was Will.

*Notorious (2009)

-I'll admit.... I didn't like this movie at first. I still don't hold it in the highest regard, but honestly, I don't think it gets mentioned enough in terms of biopics. There are a number of solid performances in this movie, and despite the laughable portrayals of 2Pac (Anthony Mackie is a great Falcon, but not Pac) and Puff Daddy (Derek Luke sort of had the look down, but none of the animation or character), this movie flows pretty well to lead us into the inevitable. I think Angela Bassett was excellent in her role as Big's mother, while Naturi Naughton was definitely comfortable in her role as Lil' Kim. Jamal Woodard, also known as Gravy, was pretty good as Biggie, and I think the only gripe with this movie is that they could have added a bit more to it. Still, after watching this again, I think it is definitely an underrated biopic.



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