2020 So Black: 20 Black Films And TV Worth Looking Forward To

(L-R): Coming 2 America (2020) ; Twenties (2020)
Photo: Paramount Pictures , Screenshot: BET

We made it, y’all! It is the year 2020 (twenty twen twennnnn!) and though we still don’t have flying cars like The Jetsons teased, we do have some black-ass film and TV to look forward to this year.

As we’re in the ’20s (which, feels weird to say), I decided to keep up with the numerical theme and highlight 20 projects in film and television that will be showcased in the year 2020. That’s quite a list, so let’s not waste any further time. In no particular order...

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1. Antebellum 

Antebellum (2020 Movie) Official Teaser / Lionsgate Movies (YouTube)

Per the official press release, Antebellum will follow “successful author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monáe), [who] finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late.” From the trailer, that “horrifying reality” appears to place Henley in a slavery setting (hence the title). The film is from the producers of Get Out and Us and it’s giving me The Shining meets... all of those critically acclaimed slavery movies. Antebellum releases in theaters April 24, 2020.

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2. Bad Boys For Life

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE - Official Trailer #2 / Sony Pictures Entertainment (YouTube)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence may be, um, seasoned veterans, but their energy is still as youthful as ever. “I’m gonna be running down criminals until I’m 100,” Detective Mike Lowrey (Smith) tells Detective Marcus Burnett (Lawrence). In Bad Boys For Life, the buddy comedy pair team up with a new generation of bad asses to defeat a Romanian mob boss exacting revenge. Since Detective Lowrey plans to keep kickin’ until he’s 100 years old, expect a Bad Boys for Life Insurance in the year 2070. Bad Boys For Life releases in theaters Jan. 17, 2020.

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3. Soul

Soul Official Teaser Trailer / Pixar (YouTube)

Pixar is debuting its first black lead character and though we still have a ways to go with animated representation (we’re still waiting for more content where the black lead is actually human throughout the entirety of the film), this type of representation with animation’s leading studio is a big fucking deal. Soul stars Jamie Foxx, Phylicia Rashad, Questlove and Daveed Diggs. Soul releases in theaters June 19, 2020.

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4. Insecure

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Here’s some perspective—the Season 3 finale of Insecure aired on September 20, 2018. That means it’s been over a year since we’ve had our fix of Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and her dramatic love life. The ghost of exes-past (Jay Ellis’ Lawrence) and the actual ghosting ghost (Kendrick Sampson’s Nathan) are lingering, but Issa’s life could go anywhere. While we wait though, the show’s Instagram accounts have been providing behind-the-scenes scoops and the account recently confirmed the HBO series wrapped its Season 4 production. Season 4 of Insecure premieres... sometime in 2020. Hopefully, Issa doesn’t pull a Rihanna on us.

5. Coming 2 America 

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Citizens of Zamunda! Helmed by Craig Brewer and penned by Kenya Barris, the long-rumored Coming 2 America will finally be gracing our movie screens this year. And that cast is stacked! Plus, (like our #2 pick, Bad Boys For Life) some of the film was shot at Tyler Perry’s history-making studio lot in Atlanta, so that just adds even more seasoning to the overall blackness. We’re going to have to wait until the end of the year for this one, though—the scheduled release date for Coming 2 America is Dec. 18, 2020.

6. Respect

Respect; Jennifer Hudson is Aretha Franklin / MGM (YouTube)

If you didn’t hear about the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, I’m not sure how because Jennifer Hudson screamed it. This is not to be confused with another Franklin biopic set to be released on National Geographic and starring Cynthia Erivo, by the way. I am mostly intrigued by Marlon Wayans portraying Ted White, Franklin’s first husband. Respect releases in theaters Oct. 9, 2020.

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7. TENET

TENET - Official Trailer / Warner Bros. Pictures (YouTube)

Golden Globe-nominated John David Washington is back in a major way, starring in a fucking Christopher Nolan film. Shoutout to Nolan, whose hauntingly dark mood palette never wanes, despite its star (I almost turned up the brightness on my phone watching the trailer). I have no idea what’s happening, but I know there will be some time travel and mind-bending action. I’m in. TENET releases in theaters June 17, 2020.

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8. Candyman

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As expected, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is becoming a superstar and all it took was turning blue and dropping trou on an HBO show. *wink* 2020 is shaping to be a huge year for the 33-year-old actor, starting with Jordan Peele’s reimagining of the 1992 horror classic based in Chicago housing projects of Cabrini Green, Candyman. Candyman releases in theaters June 12, 2020. And it looks like Yahya will be making Chicago a second home because...

9. The Trial of the Chicago 7

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This one is another big project for Yahya, which will chronicle seven defendants who were federally charged with conspiracy, inciting a riot and other charges related to anti-Vietnam war protests that took place in Chicago in the 1960s. The Trial of the Chicago 7, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, releases in theaters Sept. 25, 2020.

10. Twenties 

Lena Waithe Takes You On A Trip Through Adulthood In New Series ‘Twenties’ / BET (YouTube)

Twenties finally being realized is a testament to persistence as I remember following Lena Waithe’s journey to getting her passion project picked up via social media (and if you listened to any interview she did promoting her other projects, Twenties was always something she pushed). After knocking on many doors, the upcoming show based on Waithe’s grind in the Hollywood industry received a series order from BET. The series premiere of Twenties airs on BET in March 4, 2020.

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11. Empire (final episodes)

Final Season: A Look Back / Empire (YouTube)

2020 seems to be the year of epic black-ass television endings. First up on our list: Empire. One of the most wild and soap operatic series (I mean, the show is said to have jumped the shark because Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie dressed as a gorilla in a cage) is coming to an end for its sixth and final season. Plus, fans have eyes on a possible Jussie Smollett return as a nod to that time life was far more dramatic than art. Empire returns from its fall hiatus in Spring 2020 on Fox.

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12. The Photograph

The Photograph - Official Trailer / Universal Pictures (YouTube)

Black Love is in the air once again in the new Stella Meghie drama, The Photograph. Starring Issa Rae (in a highly noticeable sleek wig) and Lakeith Stanfield, the film will explore Rae’s character Mae delving into her late mother’s past via an old photograph that will connect their lives in unexpected ways. The Photograph releases in theaters Feb. 14, 2020. That’s right, Valentine’s Day. Fitting.

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13. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Now in Production! / Marvel Studios Movies (YouTube)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has lent some of its canon to the small screen before and Disney+ is continuing its mission to give some shine to supporting characters by turning them into lead characters via TV series. Taking off from Avengers: Endgame when Sam Wilson / Falcon (Anthony Mackie) took on the new title of Captain America (If that’s a spoiler to you, that rock you’ve been living under has to be prime real estate by now since most of America yearns some type of escape these days), The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will follow Sam and Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) over six episodes and will premiere in late 2020.

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14. Cherish The Day

First Look: “Cherish the Day,” from Ava DuVernay / OWN (YouTube)

Ava DuVernay is continuing her beloved relationship with Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) with Cherish The Day, a romantic anthology series starring Xosha Roquemore (The Mindy Project) and Alano Miller (Underground). I got to catch the first four episodes of the upcoming series (stay tuned for coverage!) and let’s just say this one may fill in that gap for everyone who misses Love Is. I’ve already sent the teaser trailer to Mama, who perpetually keeps her TV set between OWN, Buzzr and MSNBC. I’m really praying OWN obtains the rights to Sade’s titular single for the theme song. The series premiere of Cherish The Day airs on OWN in Feb. 2020.

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15. Power (final episodes)

Power: The Final Episodes / STARZ (YouTube)

Ahem, a bit of a huge spoiler alert, but somebody shot James St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), potentially elevating the meaning of his “Ghost” moniker and the final episodes of the popular series’ sixth and last season will be dedicated as an epic whodunit. Created and produced by Courtney Kemp and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Power will stand the test of time as a Black Twitter marketing success. Power returns from its fall hiatus, airing on STARZ on Jan. 5, 2020.

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16. Snowpiercer 

Snowpiercer: Welcome to the New World [PROMO] / TNT (YouTube)

Snowpiercer is one of those pleasant surprises I came across late. I had no clue the 2013 Bong Joon-ho film even existed until about 2016 or 2017 and it became one of my favorite films. The concept alone was brilliant and it is one that would lend itself to a good television series as the world can be expanded well in the right hands. Daveed Diggs will be starring in the television adaptation of the film and I’m completely intrigued. Snowpiercer premieres on TBS in spring 2020.

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17. Untitled Fred Hampton Project (known as Jesus Was My Homeboy)

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Directed by Shaka King and produced by Ryan Coogler, the film stars Daniel Kaluuya as the late Black Panther Party activist Fred Hampton and Lakeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O’Neal. Initially known as Jesus Was My Homeboy, the now-untitled film will follow O’Neal’s infiltration of the militant party and how his actions contributed to the assassination of 21-year-old Hampton in Chicago. The Untitled Fred Hampton Project is expected to be released in theaters Aug. 21, 2020.

18. How To Get Away With Murder (final episodes)

Another epic Shonda Rhimes saga is coming to an end and the iconic Viola Davis will be hanging up Annalise Keating’s wig for good. The fall finale ended with—here’s another major spoiler alert—the (maybe) death of Keating, finding out who the mole is (or was) and the surprise return of Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) and his remarkably lengthy neck! How To Get Away With Murder returns from its fall hiatus on ABC April 2, 2020.

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19. Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere - Date Announcement (Official) / Hulu (YouTube)

Based on the Celeste Ng novel of the same name, Little Fires Everywhere follows Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) and Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) who are brought together through their children and arson suspicion via a small town in Ohio. Both Washington and Witherspoon will serve as executive producers of the TV mini-series, as well. I am looking forward to seeing Washington’s dramatic quivering lip in another epic TV drama. Little Fires Everywhere premieres March 18, 2020 on Hulu.

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20. No Time To Die 

NO TIME TO DIE Trailer / James Bond 007 (YouTube)

Two words: Lashana Lynch. Daniel Craig is back as Bond, James Bond. More action, more intrigue. Every Bond movie focuses on the secret agent’s weakness for women and from the trailer, at least, he can’t seem to take his eyes off Lynch’s Nomi. But that’s not the best part, Nomi is also a bad-ass 00 agent who presumably takes over Bond’s lead when he retires. No Time To Die releases in theaters on April 8, 2020.

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And there you have it! And folks, let’s leave “How did you miss THIS project I needed you to add in a finite list where something is bound to be left out?!” demands in 2019, please? Narrator: Turns out, people will actually still ask variations of this question forever despite the author of the article fully being aware of (and probably is also interesting in) said “missed” project. Cheers to the new year!

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.