Beating the Blahs: 8 Films to Watch When You're Having a Bad Day

by Tracey Michae’l

We all have blah days. I'm usually having a blah day when I'm either not feeling well, someone has decided to dangle themselves from my very last nerve, or I'm a little blue for whatever reason. On these days, there are a few things that can give me a boost: a visit to my massage therapist, a glass of sweet red wine, a delicious novel, a kiss from my toddler, an unexpected call and prayer from a friend, and my ultimate favorite—a classic movie, particularly one starring or made by sisters like me.

Films not only offer entertainment, they are one of the best mediums for escape. For two hours, I can leave the stresses of my own world and take a theatrical ride filled with images of love and laughter, tears and triumphs, even shotguns and show-outs. I personally become so engaged in the story that the words and dialogue never leave me. (Don't act like you haven't memorized the entire script from The Color Purple or Waiting to Exhale).

Bottom line? The healing properties of a good movie are potent. This particular kind of mental hiatus is one form of self-care I highly recommend. Pick any rainy, snowy, or otherwise gray Saturday afternoon and try it. Here are a few of my favorite classic movie getaways—and some of my favorite lines in the films—to get you started.

A bonus is that all of these films either star or were made by Black women!

1. Brown Sugar starring Sanaa Lathan and Queen Latifah

"I remember the exact day I fell in love with Hip Hop." —Sidney

This is your classic “best friends who take forever to realize they’re perfect for each other” rom-com, and features an awesome soundtrack and some of today’s biggest and hottest Black stars.

2. Love Jones starring Nia Long and Lisa Nicole Carson

Romance is about the possibility of the thing. You see, it's about the time between when you first meet the woman, and when you first make love to her; when you first ask a woman to marry you, and when she says I do. When people who been together a long time say that the romance is gone, what they're really saying is they've exhausted the possibility. —Darius

When folks think of cool, definitive films about Black romance, Love Jones always comes to mind. This movie is equal parts sweet and sexy, which is why people still love it almost 20 years later.

3. Waiting to Exhale starring Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Lela Rochon, and Loretta Devine

John: Would you be happy if she were Black?
Bernie: I would be happy if YOU were Black!

This is the quintessential Black woman’s film. It’s got everything you need: a star-studded cast and a great soundtrack, as well as celebrates the importance of strong sister-friendships and depicts the realities of modern relationships.

4. Carmen Jones starring Dorothy Dandridge and Pearl Bailey

Boy, if the army was made up of nothin' but soldiers like you, war wouldn't do nobody no good. —Carmen

Talk about drama! This 1950’s film about the doomed romance about a femme fatale who seduces the good guy inspired an MTV remake featuring Beyoncé. But trust me, the original is so much better.

5. Lady Sings the Blues starring Diana Ross and co-written by Suzanne de Passe

You want my arm to fall off? —Louis McKay

Diana Ross stars in this biopic about the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. Need I say more? Didn’t think so.

6. The Wiz starring Diana Ross

Success, fame, and fortune, they're all illusions. All there is that is real is the friendship that two can share. —Scarecrow

If we’re talking about movies that’ll lift your spirits and allow you to escape from reality, there’s no better film to do that than this all-Black, soulful remake of The Wizard of Oz.

7. Soul Food starring Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica Fox,  and Nia Long

One finger won't make an impact, but you ball all those fingers into a fist, and you can strike a mighty blow. Now, this family has got to be that fist. —Big Mama

This 90s drama about a clan of sisters (and their one messy cousin) and their families whose close bond begins to unravel after the death of their mother and matriarch will have you in your feelings… in a good way.

8. Love and Basketball starring Sanaa Lathan and written/directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Monica: I'll play you.
Quincy: For what?
Monica: Your heart.

Of course I had to include Love and Basketball on this list! Gina Prince-Bythewood’s coming-of-age masterpiece about a young couple who has to find their way—both on and off the court—will never get old.

So what did I miss? What movies featuring Black women’s stories do you lose yourself in on a blah day?

Tracey Michae'l is a regular contributor at For Harriet.