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Best US movies with racially diverse leads

Stacker Logo By Tai Gooden of Stacker | Slide 1 of 51: Racial diversity in American films—or, more precisely, the lack thereof—has been a point of contention for underrepresented communities and their allies for decades. Movies made in the U.S. have historically utilized makeup, prosthetics, and caricatured accents to fake diversity or to represent people of color rather than simply casting people of color in these roles. Happily, that is starting to change. Casting racially diverse leads and supporting roles in movies provide validation that the experiences of people of color matter and create the space to have a wide variety of authentic, thoughtful, and nuanced portrayals. For white audiences, racially diverse casts and storylines provide views into other lifestyles and cultures, broadening people's understanding of different human experiences. As more films with diverse leads are made, the doors continue to open up for the types of stories that can told and the more accurate portrayals of diverse experiences and histories. To acknowledge a wide range of film diversity, Stacker compiled data (last updated Feb. 4, 2021) for all American-produced movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores—and ranked the best American films with racially diverse leads in descending order from #50 to the top movie in the country featuring a person of color in the lead role. To qualify, the film had to have a non-Anglo lead or co-lead (e.g., Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips”), at least 5,000 votes on IMDb, and a Metascore. Ties were broken by Metascore and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating. Here are the 50 best U.S. movies with racially diverse leading roles. You may also like: The best streaming services in 2021

Best US movies with racially diverse leads

Racial diversity in American films—or, more precisely, the lack thereof—has been a point of contention for underrepresented communities and their allies for decades. Movies made in the U.S. have historically utilized makeup, prosthetics, and caricatured accents to fake diversity or to represent people of color rather than simply casting people of color in these roles.

Happily, that is starting to change.

Casting racially diverse leads and supporting roles in movies provide validation that the experiences of people of color matter and create the space to have a wide variety of authentic, thoughtful, and nuanced portrayals. For white audiences, racially diverse casts and storylines provide views into other lifestyles and cultures, broadening people's understanding of different human experiences. As more films with diverse leads are made, the doors continue to open up for the types of stories that can told and the more accurate portrayals of diverse experiences and histories.

To acknowledge a wide range of film diversity, Stacker compiled data (last updated Feb. 4, 2021) for all American-produced movies to come up with a Stacker score—a weighted index split evenly between IMDb and Metacritic scores—and ranked the best American films with racially diverse leads in descending order from #50 to the top movie in the country featuring a person of color in the lead role. To qualify, the film had to have a non-Anglo lead or co-lead (e.g., Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips”), at least 5,000 votes on IMDb, and a Metascore. Ties were broken by Metascore and further ties were broken by IMDb user rating.

Here are the 50 best U.S. movies with racially diverse leading roles.

You may also like: The best streaming services in 2021

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