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25 Movies Similar to The Help

25 Movies Similar to The Help

The film is a 2011 period drama based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel, of the same name, which was published in 2009. The film was both written and directed by Tate Taylor. Both the film and the book tell the story of a young white woman who is an aspiring writer and journalist.

She goes about wanting to tell the story of what it is like being a maid for white folk from the maid’s perspective.

In The Help, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan forms a relationship with two black women, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, who are both maids. The story is set in the Civil Rights Movement of 1963 and takes place in Jackson, Mississippi. Although a drama with serious content, there are laughs and a sense of hope.

The film garnered predominantly favorable reviews, primarily due to the excellent performances, but was criticized for having somewhat of a white savior narrative. At the box office, it performed equally and made $216.6 million off of its $25 million budget. Our top picks for similar films are Hidden Figures (2016), Fences (2016), and Malcolm X (1992). For these and many more recommendations, be sure to read on.

1. Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures (4K UHD)

This biographical drama was released in 2016 and directed by Theodore Melfi. It is loosely based on a non-fiction book of the same name published the same year. It also follows the struggles and oppression of black people under the thumb of their white counterparts.

The movie follows African American women who are mathematicians working at NASA during the Space Race. The film follows various characters, but mainly focuses on Katherine Johnson, who calculated flight trajectories used for Project Mercury and other missions.

The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, and Mahershala Ali. It received great critical acclaim and was praised for various reasons, mainly the performances. It grossed $236.2 million on a budget of $25 million.

2. Fences

Fences

Fences was written by August Wilson, based on his 1985 play of the same name, which won a Pulitzer Prize. Denzel Washington both produced and directed the film and was also featured in one of the lead roles. The film, which is also a period drama, was released in 2016.

It stars, alongside Washington, Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo, Stephen McKinley, Russell Hornsby, and Mykelti Williamson. The film is set in the 1950s, and we follow Troy Maxson, his wife Rose, and their son Cory. Troy works as a garbage collector and is a slightly hardened man from the life he has lived. Life has its trials, and this is certainly true for this family.

The movie was nominated for various awards, including four Oscars, Academy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards, for which Davis received a win for Best Supporting Actress. Most of the critics found it to be “powerful and effective”. At the box office, it performed adequately, managing to turn its budget of $24 million into $64.4 million.

3. Malcolm X

Malcolm X (1992)

Malcolm X, also known as X, is an epic biographical drama released in 1992 and was directed and co-written by Spike Lee. The film is a dramatization of Malcolm X’s life and follows his criminal career, subsequent imprisonment, and conversion to Islam.

It also involves events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, and we follow his ministry, and then later him falling out of the Islamic organization. We see some of his childhood moments that lead to defining him as a man, such as his father’s death and his mother’s illness. There are definite themes of racism, and portions of the film are shown in dramatized flashbacks.

Malcolm X is played by Denzel Washington, and with him are Angela Bassett, Al Freeman Jr., Albert Hall, and Delroy Lindo. The film won multiple awards and was praised by critics, and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry of America. The box office saw a fair return of $73 million from its $35 million budget.

4. The Blind Side

The Blind Side

A biographical sports drama, The Blind Side, was released in 2009 and was both written and directed by John Lee Hancock. The film was based on the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, published in 2009. It deals with an impoverished youth who overcame his circumstances despite all, including racism.

The story follows Michael Oher, a young black man, a football player adopted by a white couple, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy. We follow the journey he takes of going from rags to riches, but not without struggle. It is a heartwarming film that pulls on the heartstrings as we watch him finally fulfill his dreams.

The film stars Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and Quinton Aaron, who plays Oher. It received mixed reviews, but the performances, particularly Bullock’s, were praised. She managed to win an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her portrayal. The film was also a box office success and turned its $29 million budget into a staggering $309.2 million.

5. Loving

Loving

This 2016 biographical romantic drama was directed by Jeff Nichols and follows the story of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, in 1967. They were the plaintiffs in a U.S. Supreme Court decision between them and Virginia, which validated the state’s prohibition laws against interracial marriage.

It also certainly deals with the same sort of racism and racial mindsets of the era and follows the struggles of this couple who battled for their love to be permitted. The film took its inspiration from a 2011 documentary by Nancy Buirski.

It features Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, who co-star as Mildred and Richard Loving. Along with them are Marton Csokas, Michael Shannon, and Nick Kroll. The film received excellent reviews by viewers and critics and was also nominated for Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. Unfortunately, the box office sat at an unimpressive $12.9 million on a $9 million budget.

6. The Butler

Lee Daniels' The Butler

The Butler, also known as Lee Daniel’s The Butler, is a historical drama directed by Lee Daniels, who also co-produced the film. The movie released in 2013 and was inspired by a Washington Post article, “A Butler Well Served by This Election”.

The film is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House as a butler for thirty-four years. It follows the goings-on that he witnessed at notable political and social events. It stars Forest Whitaker in the lead role, and with him are Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Alex Pettyfer, Terrence Howard, and Cuba Gooding Jr.

It was praised for its performances, but was criticized for its historical accuracy. The film’s box office performance was rather good as it made a solid $176.6 million on a production budget of $30 million.

7. Selma

Selma

A 2014 historical drama, Selma, was directed by Ava DuVernay. It was based upon the 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Mongomery. The marches were orchestrated by James Bevel and were led by Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis, and Hosea Williams.

The film stars David Ovelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, and Lonnie Lynn. It was in 1964 that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accepted his Nobel Peace Prize.

The Ku Klux Klan sets off a bomb that kills four black girls, and in Selma, Annie Lee Cooper tries, but she is prevented from registering to vote. King ultimately has a meeting with Lyndon B. Johnson to ask for black citizens to be allowed to register to vote. This and much more takes place in this epic film.

Selma received high praises from critics and happened to be nominated for Academy Awards, and it received four nominations for the Golden Globe Awards, one of which it won. The box office results saw it make 66.8 million on a budget of $20 million.

8. 12 Years A Slave

12 Years a Slave

This film, directed by Steve McQueen, was released in 2013 and is a biographical period-drama film. To an even greater degree, the same strong sense of oppression and racial injustices are seen in this film. We witness the atrocities that man afflicts upon his fellow man, and we are struck with compassion for our hero.

The film was an adaptation of the memoir, Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, published in 1853. It follows a free African American man who is kidnapped by conmen and sold into slavery.

Starring as Solomon Northup is Chiwetel Ejiofor and with him are Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong’o, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, and Brad Pitt. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won three of them. It was also awarded a Golden Globe, and it was recognized by BAFTA. At the box office, it performed well and made $187.7 million on a budget of $20 million.

9. The Best Of Enemies

The Best of Enemies

The Best of Enemies is a drama written and directed by Robin Bissell, it was released in 2019, and it was his feature film debut. The film was based on a book by Osha Gray Davidson and follows a true story of guts and determination in a rivalry between civil rights activist, Ann Atwater, and the Ku Klux Klan.

The film follows the story of an African American school that burns down and the mother of one of the students who battles to bring down segregation amidst the schooling system so that the African American children can be well educated.

It stars Taraji P. Henson, Babou Ceesay, Sam Rockwell, Anne Heche, Bruce McGill, and Wes Bently. The film as a whole received good remarks on the performance, but it was criticized for having “the best of intentions” but with a “lack of insight”. It pulled in a meager $10.2 million at the box office on a budget of $10 million.

10. The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

This 2018 drama, which holds a lot more tension and higher stakes than many dramas, was directed and co-produced by George Tillman Jr. It was based on the young adult novel by Angie Thomas, of the same name.

We follow the life of a high school student who’s had smooth sailing until the night where one of her friends is shot to death by a white police officer. The movie then goes into a whirlwind of tension as we see the events unfold due to the killing.

The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall, KJ Apa, and Sabrina Carpenter. Although the box office return of $34.9 million was modest compared to its $23 million budget, the film was critically acclaimed.

11. Changeling

Changeling

Although the narrative of this 2008 mystery crime drama does not tackle the strife of the African American population, it is still a movie that shows the affliction of the characters; in this case, a mother who is opposed by the law enforcement officers who are supposed to be the protectors of society.

Clint Eastwood produced, directed, and scored the film, and the story is based on actual events. We follow a mother whose son is abducted and then her tireless search for him. When a boy is found and presented as her son, the mother is adamant that he is not.

The film stars Angelina Jolie in the role of Christine Collins, the mother, on a mission to find her lost son, and with her are Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich, Jason Butler Harner, Amy Ryan, and Michael Kelly. The critical response was primarily favorable, with the film also being nominated for three Oscars and eight BAFTA Awards. It managed to turn its budget of $55 million into $113.4 million.

12. The Secret Life Of Bees

The Secret Life Of Bees

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the film was released in 2008 and is a drama directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. The movie was adapted from the novel, which Sue Monk Kidd wrote. The setting is in 1964, and racial tensions are high, as was seen in The Help.

The story follows Lily Owens, who is forced to run from her home and finally finds solace in the home of a family of African American women. However, her past follows her, and the perfect life she has now built, begins to unravel at the seams. The story is heartfelt and deals with authentic human experiences of the time.

The film stars Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and Sophie Okonedo, among others. It received a majority of positive reviews, and Queen Latifah’s performance was particularly well received. The box office earnings were $40 million from a budget of $11 million.

13. Mudbound

Mudbound: The Screenplay

Mudbound is a historical drama that was directed by Dee Rees and was released in 2017. The film was based on the novel, published in 2008, by Hillary Jordan. It takes place in a time when racism is rife, and the idea of equality is unheard of.

The film follows two World War Two veterans, one who is white and the other black, who return to Mississippi and have to address both PTSD and racism in their own ways. Life is not the same for them, and the ghosts of war linger on, as they also face some new threats.

Carey Mulligan stars in this epic film with Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Mary J Blige, Rob Morgan, and Jason Mitchell, among others. The film received nominations for the Golden Globe Awards amidst other accolades. Its box office was only $117,344 from a budget of $10 million, but after its theatrical release, it was made available for streaming on Netflix.

14. On The Basis Of Sex

On the Basis of Sex

This film is a biographical legal drama, by Armie Hammer, and was released in 2018. The film was based on the real-life and initial cases of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She served at the United States Supreme Court and was the second woman to serve at the Supreme Court.

The story follows Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who, in 1956, was a first-year student at Harvard Law School. Her husband is diagnosed with testicular cancer, and she decides to attend both of their classes while caring for the daughter. When her husband is in remission, he is hired by a New York firm, and she ends up transferring to Columbia. Unable to get a law firm job because she is a woman, she takes a post as a lecturer.

The film stars Felicity Jones with Armie Hammer, Jack Reynor, Justin Theroux, Cailee Spaeny, Kathy Bates, and Sam Waterson. Although the critics were predominantly pleased with the film, some found it predictable. Its box office return was $38.8 million from a budget of $20 million.

15. Juanita

Dancing on the Edge of the Roof: A Novel (the basis for the film Juanita)

Juanita is a film directed by Clark Johnson and is another drama on our list. The screenplay was written by Roderick M. Spencer and was based on the novel, Dancing on the Edge of the Roof, by Sheila Williams. It is not about the oppression of black people, but rather the story of an African American woman’s dream to untangle herself from her unfulfilled life, much like what the characters of The Help wanted.

Juanita one day decides to pack a bag and go on a journey of exploration to find some meaning in life. She has reached a point where she feels stagnant and unappreciated and longs for more. We witness her encounters with a variety of different people and see how she blossoms as a woman.

The cast of this delightful film is Alfre Woodard as Juanita, along with Adam Beach, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Marcus Henderson, Blair Underwood, and Ashlie Atkinson. The film received an excellent response from critics, and although it did not go to theatres, it is available for viewing on Netflix.

16. For Colored Girls

For Colored Girls

For Colored Girls is a drama, released in 2010 and adapted from the choreo-poem by Ntozake Shange, published in 1975. The film is about the interconnected lives of ten different women dealing with the struggles of being women of color.

It is an R-rated film as some of the content and topics are reserved for mature audience members. It has an ensemble cast of Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Loretta Devine, and Thandiwe Newton.

The film did not sit too well with critics; however, many audience members commended it. It returned $38 million from a budget of $21 million. If you enjoyed how those in The Help dealt with their trials and difficulties, you will appreciate this film.

17. Betty & Coretta

Betty & Coretta

Betty & Coretta is a 2013 drama, directed by Yves Simoneau and is very much in line with the civil rights movement, as hinted of in The Help.

This film follows Coretta Scot King and Dr. Betty Shabazz. They develop a friendship after the deaths of both of their husbands, namely Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Through strength and determination, they push on with the movement started by their husbands and end up influencing millions.

The film stars Mary J. Blige, as Dr. Betty Shabazz, and Angela Bassett, as Coretta Scott King. With them are Gloria Reuben, Malik Yoba, Tyler Hynes, and Benz Antoine.

18. The Rosa Parks Story

The Rosa Parks Story

The Rosa Parks Story is a gripping film written by Paris Qualles and was directed by Julie Dash. This 2002 television movie dealt with the actual account of the life of Rosa L. Parks, who, during the civil rights movement, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man.

The story shows her ultimate arrest and her background and exposes the unjust segregation in society at the time. The setting of the film is the Deep South of Alabama. Rosa Banks, as we see, was taught as a child to push to overcome the unfairness of segregation.

The film did not have a theatrical release and instead went straight to screening on CBS. It was well received and garnered awards for its excellence.

19. Bessie

Bessie

This HBO television film is about an African American blues singer, Bessie Smith. The film follows her struggle and growth from being a young singer to “The Empress of the Blues”.

Bessie, with her brother Clarence, barely makes a living by performing at local vaudeville shows. Her dreams are dashed by producers who refuse to feature dark-skinned women in their shows. One day Bessie sneaks onto a train and enters Ma Rainey’s compartment. Ma Rainey agrees to help her and aids in developing her talents. 

The film features stars such as Queen Latifah, as Bessie Smith, Michael K. Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mo’Nique, and Mike Epps. It was a hit with critics and also managed to win four Primetime Emmy Awards.

20. Just Mercy

Just Mercy

This 2019 biographical legal drama was directed and co-written by Destin Daniel Cretton, and was based on the memoir by Bryan Stevenson. The movie is about the fight for justice when the odds are all stacked against you.

Just Mercy examines the actual story of a man, Walter McMillian, who was on death row and received the help of a young defense attorney, Bryan Stevenson, to appeal his murder conviction.

The film has an excellent cast of Michael B. Jordan, Rob Morgan, Jamie Foxx, Rafe Spall, Brie Larson, and Tim Blake. It earned Foxx a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award, and the film itself was well-received by critics. Its $25 million budget saw it receive a box office of $50.4 million.

21. Lincoln

Lincoln

This biographical historical drama was directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and was released in 2012. It does not follow the struggle of black people strictly, but rather the hope of abolishing slavery and ensuring a better future for America as a whole.

The film follows the story of Abraham Lincoln, who was the United States President in 1865. He expects that the Civil War will end soon, and by the defeat of the Confederate States, he is worried that the Emancipation Proclamation will be disregarded and thrown out, causing now free men to be re-enslaved.

The cast comprises big names such as Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Lincoln, and featured too are Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Strathairn, Hal Holbrook, James Spader, and Tommy Lee Jones. The film was critically acclaimed, particularly for Day-Lewis’ performance and the direction and production value. It was also nominated for seven Golden Globes and twelve Academy Awards. The film grossed $275.3 million on a budget of $65 million.

22. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Like in Bessie, this film features the character of Ma Rainey in this 2020 biographical musical drama. George C. Wolfe directed the film. The movie, like the book it was based on, by August Wilson, deals with the lives of blues musicians and their struggles under the oppression of white people.

Ma Rainey was a highly regarded blues singer who had a strong will. White producers have recently signed her, and in 1927 things are really happening for her and the rest of the band, but power and racism come into play, and Ma Rainey is faced with tension from various angles.

The film stars the magnificent Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and Michael Potts. It received immense praise from critics and was also nominated for five Academy Awards, of which it won two. It also received eight Critic’s Choice Movie Award nominations and two Golden Globe nominations. The film had a relatively small budget, considering the production value, and was made available on Netflix.

23. The Birth Of A Nation

The Birth Of a Nation

This 2016 film is a period drama film written and directed by Nate Parker and was his directorial debut. The film was based on the story of the man Nat Turner. This is a story of rebellion and strength and standing up against the oppression of white people over their slaves. As in The Help, there is a strong sense of what is right and just.

Turner, who himself was an enslaved man, led a rebellion in 1831 in Southampton County, Virginia. It is filled with immense suffering and is much like 12 Years a Slave in that it is filled with hope and the God-given promise that freedom will come.

The film stars Nate Parker as Turner, and with him are Armie Hammer, Colman Domingo, Mark Boone Jr., Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, and Aja Naomi, among others. The critics stated that the film had “conviction” but was somewhat “uneven”. At the box office, it performed adequately, making $16.8 million on a budget of $8.5 million.

24. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

This 2013 film was a British-South African biographical film, which Justin Chadwick directed. The movie is based on the autobiography of Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. Mandela is a globally known icon and was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and the first black president of South Africa.

The story chronicles Mandela’s account of his rise in the African National Congress and, ultimately, his sentence to imprisonment on Robin Island. The country is in much turmoil, and finally, after twenty-seven long years, he is released and is eventually elected the country’s new president.

It stars Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, and Tony Kgoroge, S’thandiwe Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, and Zoliani, among many others. The film got mainly positive reviews, but some felt that too much had been squeezed into the film. At the box office, it also underperformed and only made back $28 million from its $35 million budget.

25. The Color Purple

The Color Purple

The Color Purple is an epic coming-of-age period drama, released in 1985, directed by Steven Spielberg. Although an older film, it’s undoubtedly a classic must-watch. The story takes us through the traumas but ultimate triumphs of Celie, who is also our narrator.

Celie is an African American teenager and is raised in Georgia, in rural isolation. She eventually comes to resist the burdens placed upon her, and we watch her story unfold as she writes painfully open letters to God.

The film features Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, Willard Pugh, and Rae Dawn Chong. It received eleven Academy Award nominations, but unfortunately, did not win any. It was also nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, one of which was won by Whoopi Goldberg for her performance.

At the box office, it made a relatively sizeable bank of $142 million from its budget of $15 million.

Sources:

IMDB: Selma Plot

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