Shelton Jackson, famously known as Spike Lee, is a critically acclaimed director, producer, writer, and actor known for his socially conscious movies. He has directed over 40 feature films since 1986, and many of them are often characterized by their use of racial satire, political messages and colorful cinematography. Spike Lee movies have earned him numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2019 for BlacKkKlansman. He has also produced several documentary films and television shows, providing audiences with a glimpse into the realities of life for black Americans and other marginalized groups. Let’s have a look at his 10 best movies you should watch.
Movie Guide Title
Original Name of Spike Lee
Total Spike Lee movies mentioned
Film Director, Producer, Writer, and Actor
List of Spike Lee Movies
1. Do the Right Thing (1989)
The 1989-movie Do the Right Thing elevated Spike Lee from an indie director to a household name. The movie follows Mookie (played by Spike Lee) and his struggles to keep peace among the different racial groups in his Brooklyn neighborhood on one hot summer day.
Being among the best of Spike Lee movies, tackling issues of racism and violence with humor, insight, and sensitivity. Do the Right Thing received two Academy Award nominations, and he was praised for crafting such a powerful movie that dealt with difficult topics. It is regarded as one of his greatest works and a classic of American cinema.
2. Malcolm X (1992)
In this movie, Spike tackles the inspiring story of African American human rights leader Malcolm X in an authentic, honest and reverent way. The film features strong performances by Denzel Washington as the titular character, along with Angela Bassett, Albert Hall and Lee himself.
The movie sheds light on many issues faced by Black Americans during Malcolm X’s life, such as institutional racism, police brutality and economic inequality. Spike brings to life the message of racial pride and justice that was so important to Malcolm X’s legacy.
3. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
“She’s Gotta Have It” is one of the best Spike Lee movies telling the story of Nola Darling, a young woman trying to make her way in life while juggling three men. He uses this narrative to explore complex issues of gender roles and race relations in New York City. From the vibrant cinematography to the powerful dialogue, Spike crafts a compelling story that still resonates today.
Even decades since its release, this movie continues to be praised for its thought-provoking themes and overall vision for an African American community living in Brooklyn. Spike Lee has gone on to create many great movies since then, but She’s Gotta Have It really puts Spike Lee on the map as a major American filmmaker.
4. He Got Game (1998)
Spike has directed several critically acclaimed projects, but none as powerful or resonant as his 1998 classic, Why He Got Game. He masterfully uses basketball to explore themes of family and redemption as he follows the story of a troubled teen who discovers the value of hard work on the court and off.
Lee’s trademark style and a sharp eye for detail make this an unforgettable film experience. The captivating performances of Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, Rosario Dawson, and others are simply brilliant. Fans of Spike Lee should check out this movie if they haven’t yet – it’s one of the timeless Spike Lee movies that will stay with you long after it ends.
Also check: Jared Leto Movies List
5. BlacKkKlansman (2018)
BlacKkKlansman tells the incredible true story of Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Spike portrays this intense story with a unique blend of humor and drama that draws viewers into a world filled with hate, prejudice and courage.
The movie also features powerful performances from actors like John David Washington, Adam Driver and Topher Grace, making it even more compelling to watch. Lee’s direction skillfully captures the nuances and complexities of this groundbreaking story while maintaining a sense of humanity throughout. BlacKkKlansman is undoubtedly one of the most powerful Spike Lee movies.
6. Inside Man (2006)
Inside Man, Spike Lee’s 2006 crime thriller starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, is widely regarded as one of the best Spike Lee movies. With its gripping story, sharp dialogue and stunning visuals, Inside Man is a must-see for fans of Spike Lee’s work.
The movie follows a bank robber (Owen) and a police detective (Washington) working to resolve the case without incident. As the situation escalates and both parties become increasingly desperate for an outcome in their favor, Spike Lee does an incredible job at keeping viewers at the edge of their seats until the end.
7. 25th Hour (2002)
25th Hour is one of the commercially successful Spike Lee movies with a unique and moving experience that will leave you thinking long after the credits roll. It tells the story of Monty Brogan (Edward Norton), a man facing a lengthy prison sentence for drug dealing, as he says his goodbyes to family, friends and lovers over his last 24 hours on the outside.
The main theme of 25th Hour is regret — something every person can relate to — but it also touches upon other topics, including friendship, loyalty, masculinity, racism and love within NYC’s diverse population. Spike Lee is excellent at creating a wonderfully complex and vivid world, using both script and direction to capture the distinct atmosphere of New York City.
8. Clockers (1995)
Clockers is a crime drama that follows the story of Strike (Mekhi Phifer), an inner-city drug dealer struggling to make ends meet. Throughout the film, Lee brings out themes such as poverty, race, and police brutality through real-life situations.
Spike does a great job of exploring these issues in depth with thoughtful dialogue and complex characters. In addition to its compelling subject matter, Clockers features some impressive performances from its lead actors, such as Mekhi Phifer, Delroy Lindo, and Spike Lee himself. Clockers is an important Spike Lee movie that will be remembered for years due to its powerful story and overall impact.
9. School Daze (1988)
School Daze is Spike’s second directorial outing and a classic of African-American cinema. The movie follows the lives of college students in the fictional HBCU (Historically Black College and University) Mission College. The film touches upon several topics that are still relevant today, including race relations on campus and struggles around fraternities and sororities.
The acting is superb, with some standout performances by Spike’s brother Joie Lee and Laurence Fishburne. Spike himself also has a cameo as Mookie from his debut film She’s Gotta Have It (mentioned above). But what makes School Daze stand out from other Spike Lee movies are its powerful messages about respect for one another and understanding our differences.
Also check: Amber Heard Movies List
10. Chi-Raq (2015)
Chi-Raq tells the story of an all-out gang war between two rival gangs in Chicago, which causes chaos throughout the city. Spike Lee captures both sides of this very difficult issue with his trademark satire and social commentary.
It is a powerful movie that shows Spike Lee at his best. It’s an important film that sheds light on the issue of gang violence in Chicago and presents it entertainingly. Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is a must-see for any fan of Spike Lee movies.
Final Comments on Spike Lee Movies
If you haven’t seen any Spike Lee movies yet, now is your chance to experience his work. With so many good options, there’s something for everyone. So check out this list and pick your favorite one.