A Clockwork Orange (1971)
One of Stanley Kubrick’s best films (which says quite a bit) and one of the best movies of all time, A Clockwork Orange is social commentary on youth, government, and psychiatry wrapped in a bloody shroud of rape, violence, and pure insanity. It exudes the usual Kubrick awesomeness in every scene. The movie isn’t for the weak of heart, but if you can get beyond “ultra-violence”, you’ll end up watching a fantastic film.
Its easy to forget that before Chris and Jonathan Nolan were ruling the film world with their cerebral superhero films, they were giving us even more twisted fare. A magnum opus to their style of inventive story-telling, thrilling plot twist, and intelligent film-making, Memento is a movie about perception and is really a required film for anyone who says they love the cinema. If you have the time to really sit down and watch a movie, then this is definitely the movie for you.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
I wouldn’t be too far off base if I called this film Jim Carrey’s greatest film and one of Kate Winslet’s best. Another movie that plays with your perceptions of time and reality, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the one kind of romantic story that transcends saccharin beats and really gets to the heart (LOL) of love. This is the romance for people who are tired of romance movies…so long as you can keep up.
There are good movies and then there are classics. Chinatown is the latter. Featuring a one of Jack Nicholson’s best performances, Chinatown is a film noir on steroids. Double crossing, plot twist, shot outs, and one hell of an ending, this is THE movie. A flawless script, it never lets up with action, character work, and beautiful imagery. This movie is the type of film that steps beyond the usual fare and really extends itself into the realm of masterpiece.
Alfred Hitchcock has given us some of the greatest suspense thrillers of all time. But when he ventured off into other genres, he had some missteps. But in 1972 when he returned, he returned in a very big way. Utilizing Hitchock’s usual tropes of minimalism and expert camera work, Frenzy is as thrilling a movie as you can get. If you like scary movies that are well done and don’t slack on the actual thrills (read: no torture porn), then you definitely need to check this movie out.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Many young filmgoers might not know this, but Jack Nicholson was once seen as a great actor. Today he’s probably seen as “just some old guy”, but back in the day he was phenomenal. One of his best roles was when he shed sanity all together and gave a stellar performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. A very emotional comedy, this is the type of movie you might have to watch more than once.
A masterful weaving together of multiple storylines, Syriana is a political thriller that leaves you on the edge of your seat and questioning everything. An ensemble cast of some great actors, the movie meshes together seamlessly, with each plot point a part of the massive thematic tapestry. If you ever want to watch a timely and poignant film, then please check out this one.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
I’m not really a fan of war flicks, but dammit The Thin Red Line is fucking good. This ensemble cast features some A-level actors bringing their best game. I’m talking about John Travolta, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Jared Leto, and More. The movie plays the yin to Saving Private Ryan’s blood soaked yang. It focuses less on the gore and more on the personalities, sensitivities, and visceral emotions that are generated or exacerbated by war. Again, I normally don’t like war films but I can’t help but recommend this wonderful film.
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Dustin Hoffman is easily top 20 all-time best American actors. I can point out a handful of movies that showcase this, but one of them that you have probably never seen is Midnight Cowboy. Also starring a young Jon Voight, the movie is at times depraved and others times brutally honest about life. But at all times it is a great film that offers up genuine human emotion. If you want to watch a great X-Rated film (it actually won an Oscar) then check out this joint.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
Let’s set aside the fact that the movie broke barriers with its inter-racial relationship and depiction of such a positive Black character, instead I want to point out the cast in this film. The movie stars Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier…yes that’s some of Hollywood’s best all time actors all in one film. And the chemistry is uncanny. I can watch and re-watch this movie over and over again just to view the verbal gymnastics performed by Hepburn, Poitier, and Tracy.