Best movies new and streaming for Black History Month in February 2022
February is here, and with it comes hoards of content for us to celebrate Black History Month — and while some of it is genuinely inspiring, much of it is tired and trite.
Too often, America’s Black History Month is reduced to a few anecdotes about slavery and civil rights. However, the past few years have caused a shift in the greater consciousness. Trump’s presidency exposed many dangerous and frightening corners of our country. In the face of such enmity, it’s impossible to deny that we have much work to do. Summer 2020 was a catalyst for a more nuanced conversation about systemic racism , but the good work is constant and daily.
Although the rich tapestry of Black History — much less conversations about our present realities — cannot be contained in one month, February is an exciting time to commemorate Blackness. From learning about Black pioneers to celebrating Black culture, many industries join in the opportunities to celebrate.
The film industry usually bets on the velocity of Black History Month to release projects like civil rights biopics, the occasional Black-led comedy or blockbuster. Such was the case with Black Panther, which was released with much hype in February 2018. And 2022 is no exception.
Hollywood pretty much screeched to a halt for a large part of 2020 during the pandemic. This past year is now providing a bevy of delayed content for our viewing pleasure. The pandemic also helped streaming services gain a foothold in movie-watching cultures, so a large number of this month’s most anticipated releases will happen online.
Here’s a mere smattering of the latest streaming features we are eagerly anticipating:
Some of our favorite people have teamed up for the new HBO tech thriller, Kimi. I mean, Steven Soderbergh?Zoë Kravitz? We’ll watch anything with Zoë — even if she has a walk-on role. But not this time, Zoë plays the lead who suffers from agoraphobia and is forced to leave her house to help solve a crime. This fascinating drama has piqued my curiosity, I’ve played the trailer twenty times — at least. In the meantime, I’ll be watching Zoë’s High Fidelity to get me amped.
Who didn’t love the cult-classic, 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? The iconic show catapulted Will Smith to superstardom and is still one of our most-loved shows to this day. The show followed a fictionalized version of Will who moved from a rough neighborhood in West Philly to the glamorous climes of Bel-Air. While the original brought us many laughs, what if we got to see the less goofy sides of that kind of culture shock? How about an update that tells a darker story? Well, this reboot is a modern reimagining of the same scenario, but with serious undertones. The series was ideated by a fan whose fictional trailer went viral and was quickly snapped up by Will Smith. We’re eager to see the results! The show airs on February 13th — Super Bowl Sunday — right after the big game!
Everything’s Gonna Be All White
This Showtime docuseries is a three-part exploration of the history of race in America. It’s a gigantic topic with big names to back it up. Everything’s Gonna . . . is a series of interviews with historians, artists, and activists such as Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, Jemele Hill, Amanda Seales, Favianna Rodriguez and Tamika Mallory. The first episode premieres on February 11th on Showtime.
Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power
This powerful documentary on Starz illuminates the life of Barbara Lee, an electrifying politician, activist, and pioneer of America’s civil rights movement. Still alive and active today, this film is sure to cement her legacy and advance the work she continues to do for the Black community in the political sphere. It’s available on Starz from February 1st.
This original dramatic series promises to be enticing and inspiring. Set in the 1920s, The Porter dramatizes the formation of the world’s first Black Union composed of railway workers from both Canada and the United States. Based on real events, the series tracks the journey of an ensemble of characters who hustle, dream, and pursue their ambitions in the fight for liberation. It’s a telling tale that resonates today. Bonus: Emmy winner Alfre Woodard has a recurring role! Episode one premieres on CBC on February 21st.