5. “There Will Be Blood” (2007)
At times taut, formalistic and cold, film buffs often forget to discuss how just plain zany “There Will Be Blood” is. The film reps some formidable, off-the-wall performances, most notably Daniel Day Lewis’ Oscar-winning wild man theatrics as oilman Daniel Plainview, and Paul Dano’s shrieking, sniveling performance as a young preacher.
This beautifully filmed tale of an oilman driven mad by greed and misanthropy makes a chilling statement about the founding fathers of American capitalism. It is widely regarded as the best film of the first decade of the 21st century. See it for Jonny Greenwood’s postmodern fever-dream soundtrack alone.
4. “Children of Men” (2006)
This film is a modern classic, a gripping and viscerally human experience. Movie review site Rottentomatoes.com said, “‘Children of Men’ works on every level: as a violent chase thriller, a fantastical cautionary tale, and a sophisticated human drama about societies struggling to live … It will have you riveted.”
“Children of Men” and its bleak vision of a grimy, globalized world where humans can no longer reproduce, begins grim and cynical but ultimately shows itself as a compassionate celebration of the things that redeem humanity in the end: love, humor, sacrifice and, yes, children.
3. “The Pianist” (2002)
Roman Polanski has made some of the most important films of all time, including “The Pianist.” The epic WWII film that made Adrien Brody the youngest Best Actor Oscar winner ever, follows the true-story of Władysław Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish musician who survived the horrors of the Holocaust not by extraordinary acts of heroism or action, but by the help of others and simple luck, much like Polanski’s own survival story.
The film’s final act, which concerns a sympathetic Nazi who aids Szpilman after being moved by his musical talents, transforms this exciting wartime drama into a profound mediation on art, redemption, loss and fate.
2. “Videodrome” (1983)
David Cronenberg’s surrealistic, horrific, hilarious, and deeply flawed “Videodrome” is some kind of prophecy. This film is a must see for serious film-goers with a taste for the unusual. One of the many themes explored by this freewheeling film includes the corrosive effects of viewing pornography and violence on the mind and body, a theme that resonates even more deeply in our hyper-connected internet age.
One of the characters in “Videodrome” doesn’t even have a body. He died before the film even takes place, yet still continues to communicate with the outside world through VHS recordings taped before his death. The character achieves a kind of immortality through what the film calls “new flesh” — his image on a television monitor.
1. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)
Probably the most enduring of all the Spaghetti Westerns, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” has proven hugely influential (it is even Quentin Tarantino’s favorite flick).
Much has been made of the film’s gorgeous, epic Ennio Morricone score and Leone’s love affair with sweeping panoramas and claustrophobic close-ups.
Starring Clint Eastwood, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” also features a performance by Eli Wallach that transcends the manly-man stoicism of most western acting. This film has delighted causal moviegoers, western junkies and diehard film buffs alike for countless years. You will love it.