Cinema celebrates Black History Month

Honoring Black History Month in the movies is a daunting task. I had to whittle down my list from more than 70 titles to just a select few. Here are some of my favorites.

“In the Heat of the Night” (1967) – This Best Picture winner also saw co-star Rod Steiger winning as well. Sidney Poitier starred in two follow-ups with “They Call Me Mr. Tibbs!” (1970) and “The Organization” (1971). A-

“American Gangster” (2007) – This based-on-a-true-story drama looks at Denzel Washington’s Frank Lucas, who, in a pre-cellphone era was an international drug dealer and family man always at odds with Russell Crowe’s Richie Roberts. Expertly directed by Ridley Scott, who brings a certain nuance and fluidity to this intriguing tale. It also contains some nifty plot twists and turns. A

“Bad Company” (1995) – Be sure to choose the right version of this movie. There’s also a 1972 Western with Jeff Bridges and a subpar 2002 Joel Schumacher-directed tale with Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins. This version is directed by British auteur Damian Harris, who also helmed the mediocre Goldie Hawn led “Deceived” in 1991. A very cool and collected Laurence Fishburne is Nelson Crowe, a CIA operative working with Ellen Barkin’s Margaret Wells. B-

“Malcolm X” (1992) – A Best Actor Oscar-nominated Denzel Washington is the civil rights leader whose life is followed in this Spike Lee-directed tale. It’s intriguing on all counts. B+

“Glory” (1989) – This powerhouse of a film looks at the 54th all African-American regiment in the Civil War. It won multiple Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Denzel Washington, Best Cinematography for Freddie Francis and Best Sound for Donald O. Mitchell, Gregg Rundoff, Elliot Tyson and Russell Williams II. A+

Additional top picks include director Stanley Kramer’s Oscar-winning “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1968), Spike Lee’s little seen “Miracle of St. Anna” (2008), John Singleton’s “Boyz ‘n the Hood” (1991) and Abel Ferrara’s “King of New York” (1990).