By the time the film was actually complete, his budget maxed out a sparse $175,000—and the film ended up making $7.1 million at the box office. From there, Lee has only built his legend, spending the next 34 years making movies, shows, and documentaries—or, as he famously calls them, “Spike Lee Joints,” that are not only expertly made, but uniquely and unapologetically Spike.
There aren’t many directors out there better suited to speak to this specific moment than Spike Lee. Lee’s voice frequently speaks to the plights and grievances of the Black community not only in his native neighborhood of New York City and Brooklyn, but to an entire nation. And Lee brings his unique voice and special talents to just about any genre. Whether it’s romantic comedy (She’s Gotta Have It), thriller (Inside Man), biopic (Malcolm X), or documentary (The Original Kings of Comedy), there’s little that Lee can’t do.
Lee’s latest, Da 5 Bloods, is part war epic, part adventure flick, and all fantastic. (It’s received universal acclaim as one of the best of his storied career.) At the same time, it’s always a good idea to freshen up on the work of the legendary director from Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Luckily, he’s got 19 movies, documentaries, and series that you can stream right now across the most popular streaming platforms. (We chose to stick to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO GO/HBO Max for this list.) Below, you’ll find your options. We’d say “choose wisely,” but each of these movies has their own distinct voice and takeaway; from epic biopics, to war movies, to romantic comedies, to documentaries, to stand-up specials, each entry on this list is distinctly in the voice of one Spike Lee. And that’s exactly what you came here for.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Stream Da 5 Bloods on Netflix
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Not only did She’s Gotta Have It stand as the jumping-off point for Lee’s own career, but it also ushered in an entire movement of both independent and Black filmmakers, while putting artists and performers from Brooklyn even more firmly on the industry map.
Stream She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix
She’s Gotta Have It (2017-2019)
Stream She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix
School Daze (1988)
Watching School Daze today is an interesting viewpoint into a time and experience that was uniquely Lee’s. In a a lot of ways, School Daze feels like a spiritual precursor to Justin Simien’s Dear White People, which was both a film and a Netflix original series.
Stream School Daze on Netflix
Inside Man (2006)
Stream Inside Man on Netflix
Get on the Bus (1996)
Stream Get on the Bus on Netflix
Rodney King (2017)
Stream Rodney King on Netflix
A Huey P. Newton Story (2001)
Stream A Huey P. Newton Story on Amazon Prime Video
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2015)
Stream Da Sweet Blood of Jesus on Hulu
The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)
Stream The Original Kings of Comedy on Hulu
He Got Game (1998)
It’s one of the most interesting movies of the ’90s—not only because it’s a great piece of cinema (and spoiler: it is), but because the actor playing Jesus Shuttlesworth isn’t much of an actor at all—he’s NBA legend Ray Allen.
Stream He Got Game on HBO Max or HBO Go
4 Little Girls (1997)
Stream 4 Little Girls on HBO Max or HBO Go
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (2013)
Stream Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth on HBO Max or HBO Go
When The Levees Broke (2006)
Stream When The Levees Broke on HBO Max or HBO Go
If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise (2010)
Stream If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise on HBO Max and HBO Go
Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store
Stream Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store on HBO Max or HBO Go
Red Hook Summer (2012)
Lee himself considers this film part of his ‘Chronicles of Brooklyn; series, which also includes She’s Gotta Have It, Do The Right Thing, Crooklyn, Clockers, and He Got Game.
Stream Red Hook Summer on Amazon Prime Video
Pass Over (2018)
Stream Pass Over on Amazon Prime Video
Stream Chi-Raq on Amazon Prime Video
Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.
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