The staff at dusted off those old VHS tapes to rank John Singleton’s movies from worst to best.


Remembering the Genius of John Singleton

Spike Lee opened the door for modern African-American filmmakers in 1986 with “She’s Gotta Have It.”

However, John Singleton blew the door away for African-American filmmakers in 1991 with his Oscar-nominated debut movie, “Boyz N The Hood.”

Singleton died on April 29 after suffering a stroke days earlier. 

The groundbreaking filmmaker is gone.

However, his legacy in Hollywood and beyond will endure.

Never had an African-American director or someone so young received an Oscar nomination for Best Director until Singleton’s portrayal of inner city life in South Central Los Angeles.

Fans loved “Boyz N The Hood” so much that it received a 20-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.

But Singleton did more than just produce, write and direct films.

The University of Southern California graduate became a pioneer, opening doors for future African-American actors who might not have gotten their big break without the vision of this moviemaker.

Rappers like Ice Cube, Ludacris and Busta Rhymes got to shine on the big screen thanks to Singleton.

Rapper Tupac Shakur, who had experience on the big screen before working with Singleton, got to show a softer side playing opposite Janet Jackson in the hood love story, “Poetic Justice.”

As a matter of fact, Jackson got her first movie role in “Poetic Justice” thanks to Singleton.

He opened doors in acting for R&B singer Tyrese Gibson.

And when many in Hollywood did not understand how special an actress Taraji P. Henson was, Singleton recognized her gift and gave her a starring role in “Baby Boy.”

While many critics believe that Singleton reached his peak with his debut film “Boyz N The Hood,” very few can deny that he continued to grow as a filmmaker.

He did not settle on making “urban movies” about the neighborhood.

Singleton branched out with historical dramas like “Rosewood.”

The member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. got into actions flicks with “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

Furthermore, Singleton got into crime films with “Four Brothers,” and the 2000 remake of the classic Blaxploitation film, “Shaft.”

To honor his life’s work, will rank all of the feature films directed by Singleton, from our least favorite to our favorite.

To put things in perspective, the entire staff likes all of Singleton’s films.

But we do have our favorites!

“Abduction”—The 2011 film starring Taylor Lautner was probably Singleton’s worst reviewed film. Nevertheless, it was Singleton’s first official thriller. “Abduction” centers on a young boy who finds an age-enhanced picture of himself on a missing persons website and realizes his “parents” might not actually be his parents at all. Lautner’s character is on a mission to find out the truth about his life.

“Shaft”—Remakes are hard to pull off especially when the original is such a classic. If the recent “Superfly” was a good flick, which it was, Singleton’s version of “Shaft” is phenomenal. In the 2000 version of “Shaft,” Samuel L. Jackson plays the nephew of the original John Shaft (Richard Roundtree). While very few can match Roundtree’s swag in the 1970s, Jackson definitely inherited enough swag to add to the “Shaft” family tree.

“Baby Boy”—Singleton wrote “Baby Boy” for Tupac Shakur. He believed that “Baby Boy” would be the film that would garner Shakur an Academy Award. Unfortunately, fate stepped in and took Shakur away days after Singleton told him about the role. “Baby Boy” did not come until about five years after the death of Shakur. While Shakur never got to work with Singleton a second time after “Poetic Justice,” the film made Gibson and Henson bona fide movie stars.

“Poetic Justice”—After the 1991 debut of “Boyz N The Hood,” critics and fans could not wait to see what Singleton had in store next. He flipped the script, but not totally, with “Poetic Justice.” He stayed in the same hood. But he told the story of how the hood affected the loved-ones of Black-on-Black crime victims. And the movie gave Shakur the chance to show his range and vulnerability. Furthermore, it allowed the squeaky clean Jackson to curse up a storm, which is something Papa Joe Jackson never let her do on records.

“Four Brothers”—Singleton nailed his foray into crime drams with “Four Brothers,” combining different races and musical artists from different genres to create a unique look at family bonds. “Four Brothers” featured R&B crooner Tyrese, hip-hop icon Andre 3000 and former pop rapper, Mark Wahlberg. The three musicians, and actor Garrett Hedlund, play adoptive brothers hell bent on avenging their mother’s murder.

“Higher Learning”—Back in the early 1990s, Ice Cube was arguably the most feared gangsta rapper in the game. But those that know the real Cube know he was probably more Chuck D than Boosie. Therefore, “Higher Learning” gave Cube the perfect role to show his political side on the big screen. “Higher Learning” might be more relevant today than it was in 1995 with all of the racism at predominantly White institutions of higher learning.

“2 Fast 2 Furious”—Getting the opportunity to direct the sequel to one of the biggest movie franchises of all time might be Singleton’s biggest honor other than the Oscar nominated, “Boyz N The Hood.” The film also gave Singleton the chance to reunite with Gibson and Cole Hauser (“Higher Learning”) on the big screen. Furthermore, “2 Fast 2 Furious” made rapper Ludacris a box office star.

“Rosewood”—If “Boyz N The Hood” was Singleton’s best and most important film, “Rosewood” was his second best and second most important ever. “Rosewood” was important because it made a direct statement to those who say that the African-American community needs to do for self and pull themselves up from their bootstraps. Rosewood, Fla. was an all African-American town that was prosperous and independent. However, the lies of one White woman destroyed all that they had accomplished.

“Boyz N The Hood”—What can be said about Singleton’s 1991 movie debut that has not already been said? You know a movie is profound when it is still difficult to watch the ending of the film. Ricky (Morris Chestnut) represented what could have been, which is so relevant in the African-American community and so painful. What would Nipsey Hussle have accomplished? What would Shakur have accomplished? What would Fred Hampton have accomplished? What would Malcolm X have accomplished? Singleton accomplished the feat of presenting the real story of inner city life in the 1990s.

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