Beyond The Lights And More Romantic And Relatable Black Love Films
Beyond the Lights opens up in theaters today. And the Black love story is from the writer and director of Love & Basketball, Gina Prince-Bythewood. MadameNoire can’t help, but get gooey-eyed as we recap the most romantic and realest Black love films of all time.
Beyond the Lights
R&B/pop superstar Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is struggling with superstardom and not having a voice or say in her career. She tries to take her life until a cop named Kaz (Nate Parker) stops her and helps her find her voice — while they fall in love with each other. Mbatha-Raw’s role was inspired clearly by pop stars like Rihanna and her performance received positive reviews after garnering excellent reviews earlier this year for Belle. This film is quite the love story to go see.
Love & Basketball
It was our favorite movie growing up as millennials in the 2000s because we could relate. It’s about two young Black people, Monica and Quincy (Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps) who were frenemies as pre-teens, become high school sweethearts and then, college sweethearts. Then, they grew up… And although, they have the same dream of basketball, it tears them away from each other, that is until they play for each other’s heart. Yep, it’s relatable and so sweet to watch.
This film is known as the ultimate Black love film. Young, hot, sexy, Black love, that is. Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) meets Nina (Nia Long) before his poetry set at an upscale club — retitling his poem, “A Blues for Nina.” They hit it off right away. Nevertheless, the film details the complications of love. Nina is not sure if she still cares for an ex and Darius struggles with admitting how much he cares for Nina. We’ve all been there. But in the end, their spark is too hot to ignore.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Winston (Taye Diggs) definitely helped Stella (Angela Bassett) get her “groove” back… if you know what I mean. MMMM HMMM…. yep! Stella was a hard-working woman with no time for play until she meets Winston on a vacation to Jamaica and helps her live again! They fall in love, but ultimately, there is an age difference. Although the real life story of writer Terry McMillian didn’t work out because her husband Jonathan Plummer turned out to be gay, it was nice to see Stella and Winston’s love flourish.
This 1961 classic is about jazz and love — starring two screen legends Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll as Eddie Cook and Connie Lampson, respectively. Cook, who is a jazz musician, and Lampson fall in love over some weeks. But she grows frustrated after realizing he abandoned America for France because he’s treated a lot better there. Nevertheless, she feels he needs to come back and help fight for their rights as Americans. We all can relate to social injustice as young Black people and anyone can relate to being in a relationship where one of you want to be one place and the other in another.
Black romantic comedy alums Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs teamed up for this romantic comedy. It’s the original love and hip hop — without the ratchetness. The film focus on relationship woes to a hip-hop backdrop. Dre is an A&R at Millennium Records and Sidney is the editor-in-chief of XXL. The film not only focuses on their budding love for one another, but their close friendship — ultimately knowing in the end they are going to pick each other.
Talk about a hot, passionate Black love film. I saw this movie as a kid, and it’s definitely one of the film’s where you have to cover your children’s eyes at times. That’s for sure. But you definitely can tell how much Jason (Allen Payne) and Lyric (Jada Pinkett-Smith) are in love with one another. Although Jason is hunted by his past and Lyric has dreams of a better life — through some pain, they find themselves together in the end on a journey.
This film was definitely an important portrayal of Black love, the single Black mother and unconventional family structures. James Earl Jones and Diahann Carroll shined together as Rupert and Claudine. The film’s welfare theme was set up with other themes of employment, love, marriage and race. The film’s message still resonates to this day.
This film was definitely Diana Ross’ follow-up vehicle to Lady Sings the Blues. And it tells another love story between Ross and Billy Dee Williams as Tracy, an aspiring fashion designer and Brian a local Chicago activist. It’s a love story with the themes of fame, race and community that holds up and is relatable to this day. Ultimately, this film tells a story of choosing love over career or career over love. Judging by the photo if you haven’t seen the film, which one do you think Tracy picked?
Eddie Murphy plays the ultimate career-motivated womanizer Marcus Graham in this romantic comedy. He meets his match — the female version of himself Jacqueline Broyer (Robin Givens), who is his new boss. During this time, he falls for Angela (Halle Berry). But his lifestyle finally catches up to him and he realizes he must win Angela back. It’s your typical bad guy turned good guy story with the help of the “right” woman. But it’s a Murphy film during his height as an actor — so it’s hilarious and sexy.
The Best Man
This romantic dramedy stars quite a few Black Hollywood actors. And was a major breakthrough for some of them while the others already had fantastic careers. Nia Long and Taye Diggs lead the cast as Jordan and Harper who had gone to college together, are now career-oriented and in relationships. They all come together for the wedding of Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun). But when they do, the drama unravels — testing their friendships and their love lives. The film was so good that even 14 years later, we still wanted to see a sequel and got it.
Think Like a Man
Like The Best Man, this romantic comedy started a popular franchise, and it stars an ensemble cast. And it’s the ultimate battle of the sexes film. It tells the women of the film to think like a man, act like a lady. But of course, these antics between the men and women backfire. And the couples must try some honesty and love to win each other back. This comedy was such a box office hit, it released another hit earlier this year during the summer.
Carmen Jones (Dorothy Dandridge) was definitely a seductive femme fatate and maneater. She pursues Joe (Harry Belafonte), a promising soldier who ignores her at first, but ultimately, can’t resist her charm. She seduces him, he falls in love, she does too, but then, leaves for another man soon after. He steadily pursues her. She refuses again until he goes crazy and SPOILER ALERT… kills her. It’s definitely a darker tale of love. But Dandridge and Belafonte’s onscreen chemistry is too hard to ignore.
Deliver Us from Eva
LL Cool J plays Ray, a man paid to date Eva (Gabrielle Union), a troublesome woman meddling in the lives of her three younger sisters. After they fall for each other, he refuses to break up with her when her sisters’ boyfriends become jealous of the obsession over their relationship. Therefore, the boyfriends of her sisters fake his death until he shows up at the funeral and tells her everything. She breaks up with him, relocates and tries to start a new life. But he fought for her.
This film teamed up two of music’s bests: a pop diva and a hip-hop star (both icons… even at the time). The film circles around Justice (Janet Jackson), a poetic hairstylist and an acquaintance she meets at the salon she works — a young postal clerk, Lucky (Tupac), who hits on her and she declines. Come to find out, he’s the friend of her best friend’s boyfriend. After some reluctance, they all go on a road trip together. But it’s more than a road trip with some detours, it’s one of discovery. Justice and Lucky fall for each other.
Why Did I Get Married?
This film reintroduced the actress Janet Jackson with an ensemble cast. Each couple in this film has problems within their marriage: working a lot, childbearing, cheating, lies, physical and verbal abuse, and losing a child as some of the themes the couples face. Ultimately, their love is tested, but three out of the four couples make it work while another couple breakup.
Two Can Play That Game
This is another battle of the sexes film. Shante Smith is a successful woman (Vivica A. Fox) and she has a successful boyfriend Keith Fenton (Morris Chestnut). But her perfect relationship is tested when she sees him out with a female co-worker — making her look bad after constantly giving her friends advice on her. She unleashes a “ten-day plan” to get her man back in check. But he’s on to her. In the end, neither win, but they discover they love each other.