10 Best Spike Lee Movies

10 best Spike Lee movies

10 best Spike Lee movies

Unafraid of confronting all kinds of controversial social divides within different aspects of American culture, filmmaker Spike Lee established himself as an essential voice in the late 80s and remains one of modern cinema’s most valuable assets. No other director has been able to confront the racial and societal differences between black and white people like Lee. Whether he’s covering the life and mission of Malcolm X or the hate and bigotry that exists within some of America’s most historically diverse cities.

Part of what’s most interesting about Spike Lee is his willingness to embrace passion projects — even if he has to film it with a small budget, a small cast, and less-than-ideal equipment, he’s going to film whatever he sees fit to film. Movies like Red Hook Summer and Bamboozled are some recent examples of Spike Lee films that, while they aren’t filmed on the same scale as one of his larger studio projects, embrace more daring ideas on a much smaller budget. Regardless of scale, these Spike Lee films are the best the director has to offer.

Do The Right Thing

10 best Spike Lee movies

Spike Lee’s third feature film hits so close to home for so many Americans that it still feels relevant to this day. Taking place in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn — one of the largest black communities in the United States — over the course of the hottest day of the year, Lee’s film plays out like a pot of boiling water on the stove. Tensions rise as hidden bigotry is revealed, resonating far beyond the film’s runtime.

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Malcolm X

10 best Spike Lee movies

One of Lee’s most well-received passion projects is a biographical picture following the life of black rights activist Malcolm X. Denzel Washington does the role justice, transforming himself into the historical figure and giving one of his most powerful performances to date. Malcolm X is an essential part of the 20th century, and Malcolm X is an essential part of Lee’s filmography.

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4 Little Girls

10 best Spike Lee movies

Not a narrative, but actually a documentary, Lee’s documentary 4 Little Girls tells the story of the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Four young girls were killed, all attending Sunday School at the time, shocking the nation and drawing global attention. Lee’s voice is the perfect one to tell the story of this horrendous hate crime.

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25th Hour

10 best Spike Lee movies

Based on the novel by David Benioff, the same guy responsible for the film’s screenplay as well as the television adaptation of Game of Thrones and an upcoming Star Wars trilogy, Spike Lee’s 25th Hour tells the story of a man’s last day before he goes off to prison for nearly a decade. It’s one of Lee’s most emotional and dramatic films, hitting on all kinds of controversial topics as Edward Norton’s character tries to find redemption at the lowest point in his life.

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Inside Man

10 best Spike Lee movies

This 2006 thriller is something of a departure from Lee’s usual work: it’s an exciting and suspenseful heist film starring Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster. At the same time, though, Inside Man is very much a Spike Lee Joint. The film is just as much a commentary on rap music, violent crime, and even desensitization to graphic video games. It’s one of Spike Lee’s most commercially successful film, but he still manages to get his point across.

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She’s Gotta Have It

10 best Spike Lee movies

Lee’s first feature-length film, She’s Gotta Have It was filmed on a shoestring budget and launched him straight to success. He wrote, directed, and edited the feature — which has since gotten a modern-day Netflix revival — which follows a young woman in search of the perfect man. It’s a clear indication of the filmmaker that Lee is and the films he’d go on to make. It’s a clear and concise vision, and it’s wonderfully made.

Watch now on Amazon Prime.

Chi-Raq

10 best Spike Lee movies

Lee’s 2015 film about the violence and crime that goes on in the south side of Chicago fits within a plethora of genres: musical, crime drama, thriller, and dark comedy. Chi-Raq tells the story of a group of women that create a movement that challenges race, sex, and violence within their community and, even more broadly, within the United States of America. It’s an important and clear look at the way Lee feels about the state of the nation and the solutions he continues to stand behind.

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Summer of Sam

10 best Spike Lee movies

Returning to New York, Lee’s 1999 film takes place during the summer of 1977: the Son of Sam serial murders were in full swing, and Lee chooses to focus on a fictional family of Italian-Americans as a way to show what this time was like in the Bronx. It’s an intimate look at life in the Bronx, and it’s another great glimpse at the way Lee feels about one of New York’s most infamous killing sprees.

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Crooklyn

10 best Spike Lee movies

Returning to the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Lee’s 1994 film is one of his most autobiographical (or semi-autobiographical, at least). The film focuses on a young girl and her family as she learns enough life lessons to follow her well into adulthood. Lee clearly has a lot of compassion for this Brooklyn neighborhood, choosing it as the backdrop for plenty of his films, and Crooklyn is no exception.

Purchase now on Amazon for $13.99.

BlacKkKlansman

10 best Spike Lee movies

The most recent film on the list, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a solid film (despite its political murkiness). The film follows the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who infiltrated the KKK in the early 1970s. The similarities between the true story and the feature film end there, seeing as the real Stallworth infiltrated the KKK for different, less noble reasons than the fictional Stallworth. Still, despite this, Lee’s film is a relatively gripping call to action in the midst of our current political climate.

Purchase now on Amazon for $14.99.

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Weekend: Dec. 5, 2019, Dec. 8, 2019

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