The African movie industry is a rapidly growing one. Several world-class and high-quality films have been produced which not only portray African culture and tradition to the world. They also serve as a means of learning the history of major events such as colonization and the fight for independence by many African countries.
Why many people might be skeptical about diving into African movies, this list of 20 best African movies will certainly cause you to fall in love with the African movie industry. And it isn’t all blood and suffering. A lot of these movies will make your day with their interesting plot and funny characters. Let’s dive straight into the review
Review of the Best African Movies of all Time
1. Abouna (2002)
Chad has produced some top African movies, one of them, which is Abouna (meaning “our father”). This movie is about a family, two young boys to be precise, who wake up to discover that their dad had abandoned them. They plunge into misbehavior in a typical “coming of age fashion”.
In the process of watching a movie, they begin to feel that their father is speaking to them through the movie and end up stealing the movie frames. When their mother fails to control their errant ways, she sends them off to a quranic school where they eventually become more level headed after the oldest boy falls in love.
- Cast: Ahidjo Mahamat Moussa, Hamza Moctar Aguid,
- Box Office: $15,476
- Genre: Drama
|Hong Kong International Film Festival||2002||Firebird Award – Special Mention|
|Kerala International Film Festival||2002||FIPRESCI Prize and Golden Crow Pheasant|
|Ouagadougou Panafrican Film and Television Festival||2003||Baobab Seed Award, Best Cinematography, INALCO Award and UNICEF Award for Childhood|
2. Alter Ego (2017)
Alter Ego is one of the best African movies to hit the African movie industry. It is a very emotional and captivating movie about a lawyer hell-bent on ensuring that sex offenders are punished for their crimes. Her experience as a child made her more particular and vengeful towards child molesters.
Unfortunately, the event also left her scarred and a sex addict such that whenever the urge for sex comes, she has absolutely no control over herself.
- Cast: Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Wale Ojo, Esther Eyibio, Kunle Remi
- Genre: Drama
|Nollywood Travel Film Festival||2017||Best Actress Award|
3. Ben and Ara (2015)
All over the world, there is always a time where Iove tries to bridge the chasm created by religion and ethnicity. Ben and Ara are one of the best African movies on this list of African movies because it addresses this issue.
Ben is an agnostic who is also in an open relationship while Ara is a Cameroonian Muslim. They meet in a museum and Ara goes against her mother’s wishes by falling deeply in love with him, thus, challenging everything she has been taught as a Muslim. If you would like to see Ben & Ara, it is available at one odf the best deals on movie sites like this.
- Cast: Joseph Baird, Constance Ejuma, Akuyoe Graham, Q’orianka Kilcher
- Genre: Drama
|Indie Film Festival||2016||Won the awards for the Best Picture and Best Actress|
|African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA)||2016||Best Diaspora film [Winner]|
4. Adanggaman (2002)
One aspect of the Atlantic slave trade that is not so talked about is the role played by traditional rulers. Adanggaman is a top African movie that tells in detail the two faced-ness of those in power. People who sold those they ought to protect or their kinsmen into slavery to Europeans.
Adanggaman highlights the hypocrisy of those in power, and the horrendous role certain Africans played in the Atlantic slave trade. King Adanggaman repeatedly led wars against neighboring tribes, killed off the older men, and captured the younger men to be sold into a life of slavery to the Europeans. When Ossei’s village falls under the attack of this same king, his mother is captured and he goes on a mission to free her and his lady love. Eventually, he ends up as a slave in Europe. Adanggaman makes our list of best African movies because of its critical introspection into the African slave era.
- Cast: Rasmane Ouedraogo, Albertine N’Guessan, Ziable Honoré Goore Bi, Bintou Bakayoko
- Box Office: $28,664
- Genre: Drama
|Amiens International Film Festival||2000||Best Actor [Winner]|
|Marrakech International Film Festival||2001||Special Jury Award [Winner]|
|Ouagadougou Panafrican Film and Television Festival||2001||Best Actress [Winner]|
5. Cairo Station (1958)
Cario station is one of those movies you hear about or stumble across and instantly recognize it’s perfection. It made the 8th Berlin international film festival for a reason.
This best African movie made our African movie list, not just because it depicts culture. Cario station tells a theme that is common to all. A story of love and obsession between a slightly lamed newspaper seller and a woman who treats him with kindness. Qinawi becomes obsessed with Hannuma, a cold drink seller at the train station. When she turns down his proposal, he plots to kill her after being inspired by an unsolved murder mystery in the papers.
- Cast: Farid Shawqi, Hind Rostom, Youssef Chahine, Hassan el Baroudi
- Box Office:
- Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
|Berlin International Film Festival||1958||Golden Berlin Bear [Nominee]|
6. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
The Gods Must Be Crazy is a top-rated comedy movie about Africa. The San tribe discovers a coca-cola bottle that fell from the sky but was actually thrown out of an aircraft. Assuming the bottle to be a tool of the Gods, it creates contention and strife as the tribal people struggle between themselves to use this new tool.
Sensing the division among his people, Xi decides to dispose of this strange object at the end of the world. He embarks on a hilarious journey to what he thinks is the end of the world and even falls in love along the way. The God Must be Crazy is available at one of the lowest prices on this movie site.
- Cast: Nixau, Marius Weyers, Sandra Prinsloo, Louw Verwey
- Box Office: $200 million
- Genre: Comedy, Drama
|César Awards, France||1984||César [Nominee]Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger)|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||1984||LAFCA Award [Nominee]Best Foreign Film|
|Montréal World Film Festival||1983||Most Popular Film of the Festival [Winner]|
7. The Cursed Ones (2015)
The Cursed Ones is purely a product of African Cinema. It tells the story of how witchcraft and superstition have dominated rural and even some urban areas in West Africa.
As one of the best African movies of all time, the movie is about a village which after suffering a series of misfortune, turns to accuse a young mute girl of witchcraft. Unfortunately, the village pastor spikes their paranoia by telling them that the only way their village will be saved is if she is put to death.
Turning the whole village, including her family against her; Asabi is left to face her fate with just a disenchanted reporter and a young school teacher.
|African Movie Academy Awards||2016||AMAA [Winner]Best Production Design|
|Atlanta Film Festival||2016||Jury Award [Nominee]|
|Black Reel Awards||2017||Black Reel [Nominee]Outstanding World Cinema Motion Picture|
8. Hotel Rwanda (2004)
In 1994, a terrible genocide happened in Rwanda. This African historical movie depicts the history and the effects of such an event on the daily life of Rwandan citizens. Particularly Paul Rusesabagina, manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines who displayed great courage in helping thousands of refugees across both warring tribes to gain shelter in his hotel.
While the world looked the other way, tied by their own bureaucracy or indifference, the Hutu and Tutsi engaged in a terrible war. As a man from the Hutu tribe and married to a Tutsi woman he was right in the middle of the war but fought with all he had to protect not just his family, but also others who had nowhere to go.
Hotel Rwanda is one of those true-life movies that you will fall in love with but not without a few tears.
- Cast: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix
- Box Office: $33,882,243
- Genre: Biography, Drama, History
|Academy Awards, USA||2005||Oscar [Nominee]Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role|
|Golden Globes, USA||2005||Golden Globe [Nominee]Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama|
|BAFTA Awards||2006||BAFTA Film Award [Nominee]Best Screenplay|
9. The Last Fishing Boat (2012)
Change is something some people find very difficult to accept while others flow with the tides. As one of the best African movies you have to see, the last fishing boat addresses this issue as his very means of livelihood is being threatened by the rapidly expanding tourist sector in Malawi.
Things look even more hopeless for the once-successful fisherman when his son becomes a tourist guide and worse, his third wife cheats on him with a white tourist who offers her money for the night.
This movie is one of the best movies about Africa and is perfect to watch with family.
- Cast: Hope Chisanu, Robert Kalua, Flora Suya, Robert Mcloughlin
- Box Office:
- Genre: Drama
|9th Africa Movie Academy Awards||2013||Best Director – Shemu Joyah [Nominated]|
|Silicon Valley African Film Festival||2013||Best Narrative [Won]|
|9th Africa Movie Academy Awards||2013||Best Soundtrack [Won]|
10. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Long walk to freedom is a monument to South African Freedom fighter and activist, Nelson Mandela who later became the president of South Africa after 27 years in prison.
Nelson Mandela became an icon who was very crucial in ending the South African apartheid and racial discrimination. This movie shows the details of his life as recorded in his autobiography. It is an African historical movie and among the top African movies ever produced. This movie is indeed one of the top-rated movies from Africa.
- Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa
- Box Office: $28 million
- Genre: Drama, Historical
|Academy Awards, USA||2014||Oscar [Nominee]Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song|
|Golden Globes, USA||2014||Golden Globe [Winner]Best Original Song – Motion Picture|
|Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing||2014||Music Score in a Feature Film [Nominated]|
11. White Wedding (2009)
The white wedding is a romantic comedy movie from South Africa and has made our list of best African movies of all time simply because of its wonderful plot, hilarious scenes, and of course, the romance.
Eliz, the groom in this African movie leaves Johannesburg for Durban to pick up his best friend so they can both drive to Cape town for the wedding. However, chaos ensues as they run into a young, female English doctor on the way and romance sparks off.
- Cast: Kenneth Nkosi, Rapulana Seiphemo, Zandile Msutwana, Jodie Whittaker
- Box Office: $629,165
- Genre: Romantic Comedy
|Macau International Movie Festival||2009||Golden Lotus Award [Nominee]Best Director|
|South African Film and Television Awards||2010||SAFTA Golden Horn [Winner]Best Actor – Feature Film|
|SAFTA Golden Horn||2010||[Nominee]Best Supporting Actress|
12. The Wedding Party (2016)
Nollywood has become one of the world’s foremost brands in the movie industry. It became more cemented after the release of this romance-comedy movie, The Wedding Party. This recent African movie makes many movies list as one of the best African movies of all time.
It depicts the drama that ensues when a young gallery owner, Dunni is about to marry an IT entrepreneur, Dozie. As a marriage between two very different tribes in Nigeria with both families trying to have their culturally perfect wedding, a sexually tensed couple who decided to wait till their wedding night, an irresponsible best man and an ex-girlfriend on the loose.
- Cast: Adesua Etomi, Banky Wellington, Richard Mofe Damijo, Sola Sobowale
- Box Office: ₦453,000,000
- Genre: Comedy, Romance
|St. Louis International Film Festival||2016||New Filmmakers Forum Award [Winner]|
13. District 9
Anyone who has watched this futuristic movie will ascertain that it truly is one of the best African movies in the sci-fi genre. When an alien ship filled with 1 million starved aliens hovers over Johannesburg, the government allocated a location for them called district 9.
As time progresses, tension sparks between the aliens living in horrible conditions and the locals. As a new biotechnology comes up, a human mutating into an alien, and scientists scrambling for alien abilities, this movie will take you on a thrilling roller coaster.
- Cast: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Vanessa Haywood
- Box Office: 210.8 million USD
- Genre: Sci-Fi
|Academy Awards, USA||2010||Oscar [Nominee]Best Motion Picture of the Year|
|Golden Globes, USA||2010||Golden Globe [Nominee]Best Screenplay – Motion Picture|
|BAFTA Awards||2010||BAFTA Film Award [Nominee]Best Screenplay|
14. Tsotsi (2005)
Another South African movie, Tosti is a crime drama movie about a thug who steals a car and discovers a baby in the back seat. Left with no option but to care for the child, at least temporarily, this hardened thug begins to soften and find redemption. This top African movie is a picture of the suffering and crime-filled life that is a part of modern Africa. It is a gripping story that will give you a clearer understanding of the story African cinemas try to portray.
Totsi is definitely one of the best African movies to rock the film industry worldwide.
- Cast: Presley Chweneyagae, Mothusi Magano, Kenneth Nkosi, Zenzo Ngqobe
- Box Office: $11.5 million
- Genre: Thriller
|Academy Awards, USA||2006||Oscar [Winner]Best Foreign Language Film of the Year|
|BAFTA Awards||2006||BAFTA Film Award [Nominee]Best Film not in the English Language|
|Golden Globes, USA||2006||Golden Globe [Nominee]Best Foreign Language Film|
15. Osuofia in London
If you haven’t watched this movie on your quest to discover the best African movies, then you should stop your search here. Osuofia in London is a hilarious comedy-drama about a man from a village in Nigeria who received news of his brother’s demise.
He ends up having to travel to London, thus leaving rural Africa for the first time. Osuofia displays a lot of antics in his hilarious journey to claim his inheritance, of which he assumes his late brother’s English fiancee is a part.
This movie will top your list of best African movies and give you an interesting glimpse into Nigerian/African culture as a whole.
|Africa Movie Academy Award||2005||Best Soundtrack|
16. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (2019)
The boy who harnessed the wind is based on the true story of a boy who literally saved his Malawi village from famine. Thrown out of school because of his parents’ inability to pay the fees, William blackmails his teacher — who is secretly in a romantic relationship with William’s sister– to let him continue attending classes and have access to the school library.
In the process of reading, he learns how to build a windmill that can generate electricity to pump water into the village.
The boy who harnessed the wind is one of the best African movies and as such makes our African movie list.
- Cast: Maxwell Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lily Banda
- Box Office:
- Genre: Drama
|AwardsBlack Reel Awards||2020||Black Reel [Nominee]Outstanding International Film|
|British Independent Film Awards||2019||British Independent Film Award [Nominee]Best Supporting Actor|
|Image Awards (NAACP)||2020||Image Award [Winner]Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture|
17. Gorillas In The Mist (1988)
History always reminds us of that one person who makes up his /her mind to create change when need be. This is the story of Occupational therapist Dian Fossey, who becomes inspired by an anthropologist and moves to Africa to study the rare mountain gorillas. Gorillas in the mist is a top African movie that tells her journey from congo to neighboring Rwanda.
Driven by a passion to understand and save these exotic species from the poachers, Dian Fossey makes a lot of enemies, is eventually murdered. However, her legacy lives on.
- Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Bryan Brown, Julie Harris, John Omirah Miluwi
- Box Office: $61,149,479
- Genre: Drama
|AwardsAcademy Awards, USA||1989||Oscar [Nominee]Best Actress in a Leading Role|
|Golden Globes, USA||1989||[Winner]Best Original Score – Motion Picture|
|BAFTA Awards||1990||BAFTA Film Award [Nominee]Best Cinematography|
20. Queen of Katwe (2016)
The Queen of katwe made waves in the film industry upon its release. It stands as one of the best African movies and makes it to this list of African movies because of its plot, the true nature of the story, and the wonderful acting by its characters.
The Queen of later, Phiona is a young girl living in the slums of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. She learns chess from Mr. Robert Katende and rapidly climbs the chess ladder, taking her community by surprise and eventually lifting her family from deep-seated poverty.
- Cast: David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’I, Madina Nalwanga, Esteri Tebandeke
- Box Office: 10.4 million USD
- Genre: Sport, Drama
|African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)||2016||AAFCA Award [Winner]|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||2017||EDA Female Focus Award [Nominee]|
|Black Reel Awards||2017||Black Reel [Nominee]Outstanding Actress, Motion Picture|
Some movies go beyond time and generation. Some of the best African movies of all time are Hotel Rwanda, District 9, etc
Some of the best African movies on Netflix include Tsotsi, District 9, wedding party, etc
Recent movies depicting the facts about African countries include Oloturé, Adam, Queen of Katwe, Wedding party e.t.c.
Several movies depict African history. Some of them are Sambizanga, Adanggaman, Hotel Rwanda, etc
Nigeria’s Nollywood has topped the African movie industry by being the biggest and most popular in the continent.
Bottom Line: Best African Movies; Recently Reviewed!
Whew! That was a fun ride.
If this is your first time delving into the African movie industry, or even if you are a veteran at this but just want some outside opinion on the best African movies to watch, this list will be of immense help to you.
Just in case you want a review of other great movies you can check out our best movies for couples, best kids Christmas movies, best romantic anime movies, best military movies and best Canadian movies post. You can also get the best movie deals at the lowest prices on this movie site, sounds good right? Then order away!