Black slave movies earn high praise in Hollywood

Last year,  Django Unchained,  a film based on the fictional character of a run-away slave in the mid 1800's , was one of five films nominated for Best Picture in the 2013 Academy Awards.   It was a monumental achievement for director Quentin Tarantino who garnered his second Oscar win for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

For Hollywood, bringing life to the historical saga of African slavery has always been a profitable venture for both the actors and the film studios. Roots, an eight-part television series that aired in 1977, was a documented journey of American author Alex Haley's search for his African heritage.

The series aired on ABC-TV and received unprecedented Nielsen ratings which still holds a record as the third highest-rated US television program.  It won Golden Globe Awards for Best TV Series-Drama and a Best TV Actress-Drama for Leslie Uggams, in addition to 9 Primetime Emmy Awards and 37 Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Since the airing of Roots, the movie industry has continued to delve into the slavery experience, attracting the best cinema story tellers in the industry, like Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

From the above list, some have participated in the production of at least two slave films; Morgan Freeman performed in Glory and Amistad, Chiwetel Ejiofor performed in Amistad and 12 Years A Slave, and  Steven Spielberg directed Amistad and Lincoln.

12 Years a Slave, a historical film of a free African American man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery,  received top honors at the Golden Globe Awards this past weekend, winning the award for Best Motion Picture, Drama.

Directed by British filmmaker Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor , 12 Years a Slave has already topped the nominations list for the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, scheduled to air live on January 18.  The SAG nominations are one of Hollywood's first major announcements on the long road to the March 2nd Oscars.

During an interview with The Voice,  film director McQueen believes that the slave story is an important part of our history.  "We (black people) have to recognize our past in the same way that other ethnics group like the Jewish community has," expresses McQueen.

"They believe in the saying 'never forget' when it comes to the Holocaust,  and I think we should be the same when it comes to slavery.  It's important."

Here are a few of the most popular African slave movies to date.


  1. Glory, 1989 - Historical
    Director:  Edward Zwick
  • Won 3 Oscars
  • - Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Denzel Washington
  • - Best Cinematography
  • - Best Sound
  •  Nominated for 2 Oscars
  • - Best Art Direction
  • - Best Film Editing
  •  Actors:
  • - Matthew Broderick
  • - Denzel Washington
  • - Morgan Freeman


  1. Amistad, 1997 - Historical
    Director:  Steven Spielberg
  • Nominated for 4 Oscars
  • - Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Anthony Hopkins
  • - Best Cinematography
  • - Best Costume Designer
  • - Best Music, Original Dramatic Score
  •  Actors:
  • - Anthony Hopkins
  • - Djimon Hounsou
  • - Matthew McConaughey
  • - Morgan Freeman
  • - Chiwetel Ejiofor


  1. Beloved, 1998 - Drama
    Director:  Jonathan Demme
  • Nominated for 1 Oscar
  • - Best Costume Design
  •  Actors:
  • - Oprah Winfrey
  • - Danny Glover
  • - Kimberly Elise


  1. Lincoln, 2012 - Historical
    Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Won 2 Oscars
  • - Best Performance by a an Actor in a Leading Role, Daniel Day-Lewis
  • - Best Achievement in Production Design
  • Nominated for 10 Oscars
  • - Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
  • - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
  • - Best Achievement in Directing
  • - Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
  • - Best Achievement in Cinema Photography
  • - Best Achievement in Film Editing
  • - Best Achievement in Costume Design
  • - Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
  • - Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
  •  Actors:
  • - Daniel Day-Lewis
  • - Sally Field
  • - Tommy Lee Jones
  • - Hal Holbrook
  • - Gloria Reuben


  1. Django Unchained, 2012 - Fictional, Western
    Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Won 2 Oscars
  • - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Christoph Waltz
  • - Best Writing, Original Screenplay
  •  Nominated for 3 Oscars
  • - Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • - Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • - Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  •  Actors:
  • - Jamie Foxx
  • - Christoph Waltz
  • - Leonardo DiCaprio
  • - Kerry Washington
  • - Samuel L. Jackson


  1. 12 Years A Slave, 2013 - Historical
    Director: Steve McQueen
  • - As of this publication:
  • Won Golden Globe Award,
  • - Best Motion Picture- Drama
  •  Actors:
  • - Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • - Lupita Nyong'o
  • - Michael Fassbender
  • - Brad Pitt
  • - Paul Giamatti
  • - Alfre Woodard

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