“10 Cloverfield Lane” (2016)
This sneaky sequel to 2008’s “Cloverfield” looks at a whole new set of characters (and isn’t shot as a faux documentary — thankfully!) who have a lot more to worry about than an alien invasion.
“20th Century Women” (2016)
Partly based on director Mike Mills’ childhood, Annette Bening plays a single mom who tries to raise her son into a good man along with the help of two women (Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning).
“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” (2016)
A small financial institution in Chinatown is the only company to be indicted in the wake of the 2008 mortgage crisis. But this Oscar-nominated documentary, directed by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”), shows that the company wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
“American Honey” (2016)
Sasha Lane stars as a young girl who gets swooped up by a group of young traveling magazine salesman and travels the midwest in a unique way. The highlight of the movie is its gritty improv feel, which Lane, and costars Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough thrive in.
“American Ninja” (1985)
If you’re looking for a cheesy martial arts action movie this is it. 1980s heartthrob Michael Dudikoff plays an American soldier who single-handedly takes on mercenaries in the Philippines with his ninja skills.
Directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, this stop-motion dramedy follows a lonely customer service expert who has an memorable encounter with a woman (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) at a Cincinnati hotel. As you can imagine, some very Charlie Kaufman-level of weirdness takes place.
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner team up try to understand why alien crafts have suddenly appeared all over the world. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the movie is as touching as it is beautiful to watch.
“The Beastmaster” (1982)
A movie that found an eternal life on cable TV, this fantasy action movie follows Dar (Marc Singer) who with his powers of speaking telepathically with animals, forms a team to defeat the evil sorcerer Maax (Rip Torn).
“Behind the Candelabra” (2013)
Steven Soderbergh looks at the life of Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), a kid who finds himself the boyfriend of Liberace (Michael Douglas) and ends up in a downward spiral as he tries to stay relevant in the superstar’s life.
“The Believer” (2001)
Marking Ryan Gosling’s first-ever leading role, he delivers an incredible performance as a Jewish kid who becomes a Neo-Nazi.
“Best Worst Movie” (2009)
Even if you’ve never seen “Troll 2,” just watching this documentary about one of the worst movies ever made is a lot of fun. Directed by the star of “Troll 2,” Michael Stephenson, he talks to many of the people involved in the movie to look back on a forgotten movie that is now a major cult classic.
“The Big Sick” (2017)
Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon look back on the unique way they started dating by penning this romantic comedy (which is now nominated for a best original screenplay Oscar). Nanjiani plays a comedian who falls for Emily (Zoe Kazan), but when she contracts a mysterious illness he's suddenly faced with dealing with a serious situation as well as her feisty parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano).
“Biggie & Tupac” (2002)
This documentary looks back on the friendship between Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls that led to the East Coast/West Coast rap feud and eventually the murders of the two legends. Neither of which has been solved.
“Black Hawk Down” (2001)
Ridley Scott directs this intense look at a group of soldiers who have to band together to survive a battle with heavily armed Somalis.
“Blue Velvet” (1986)
David Lynch’s classic stars Kyle MacLachland and Laura Dern as two friends who find themselves way over their heads when they decide to snoop into the life of a night club singer (Isabella Rossellini). As it goes with Lynch stories, things turn bad real quick. Especially when Dennis Hopper shows up.
“Brawl in Cell Block 99” (2017)
Vince Vaughn plays a blue-collar former boxer who, in trying to have a better life for himself and his wife, turns to the profitable profession of drug dealing. But when he’s busted and thrown in jail he finds that the only way to protect his wife is to get out of jail, and that means getting into the ultraviolent Cell Block 99. Get ready to see Vince Vaughn as you never have before.
“Buffalo ’66” (1998)
Vincent Gallo writes, directs, and stars in his landmark indie as a guy fresh out of prison who kidnaps a girl (Christina Ricci) and brings her to his parent’s house as his “wife.” The movie’s highlight is the striking visuals by cinematographer Lance Acord.
“But I’m a Cheerleader” (1999)
Another late 1990s landmark indie movie, this satire stars Natasha Lyonne as a teenager who is sent to a rehab camp when her parents suspect she’s a lesbian.
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s lone Oscar win was him portraying novelist Truman Capote while he wrote “In Cold Blood,” which launched the true crime novel genre.
Jon Favreau writes and directs this father-son tale that looks at a burnt out chef (Favreau) who buys a food truck to get back to his creative roots, and with the help of his son finds why he loved cooking in the first place. Warning: Do not watch this movie on an empty stomach.
Spike Lee’s first movie for Amazon Studios delves into the massive gang violence in Chicago. An adaptation of the Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, the gang members’ women withhold sex until they all can come to a truce.
“City of Ghosts” (2017)
This gripping documentary takes you to the front line of war. Director Matthew Heineman looks at the activist group, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group of citizen journalists who have come together after their homeland in Syria is taken over by ISIS.
“Cool World” (1992)
Determined to get into the real world, animated femme fatale Holli (Kim Basinger) tries to seduce the cartoonist (Gabriel Byrne) who she believes created her world. Brad Pitt plays a detective in Cool World who stumbles onto what Holli is trying to do. It’s a wacky movie, but is an ambitious work in the early days of combining live-action and animation.
Ryan Coogler brings life back into the “Rocky” franchise by delving into the storyline of Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis (played by Michael B. Jordan). Sylvester Stallone returns to once more play Rocky, but now a trainer he tries to make Adonis into a champion fighter.
“Crown Heights” (2017)
Lakeith Stanfield gives a powerful performance portraying the real-life story of Colin Warner, a man wrongfully convicted of murder who spent 20 years in prison.
“The Cutting Edge” (1992)
This classic love story stars D.B. Sweeney as a hockey player who is teamed with a figure skater, played by Moira Kelly, to become an Olympic figure staking pairs team. Oh, and in the process they fall in love.
“Days of Thunder” (1990)
In one of Tom Cruise’s classic thrill movies he plays a NASCAR driver whose ego makes him one of the hottest drivers on the circuit. And one of the most dangerous.
“Desperately Seeking Susan” (1985)
Rosanna Arquette plays a bored housewife who, after suffering amnesia, becomes a free-spirited New York City drifter. It also marks the first major movie role for Madonna.
“The Devil’s Double” (2011)
In an insane performance that you have to watch to believe, Dominic Cooper plays Saddam Hussein’s psychotic son, Uday, *and* the man who is forced to be his double, Latif. We are then sucked into the life of one of the most dangerously unstable men on the planet.
“Dirty Dancing” (1987)
Some nights you just need to go back to the Catskills and hang out with Baby and Johnny.
“Dirty Work” (1998)
Norm MacDonald and Artie Lange realize the only thing they can do well is pulling stunts that get back at people who have done them wrong. So they decide to start a revenge-for-hire business. This is seriously a very underrated comedy. Give it a shot.
“Elvis & Nixon” (2016)
Looking for a crazy movie? Well, how about Michael Shannon playing Elvis! This gives the behind-the-scenes story of one of the most bizarre photos ever taken, Elvis meeting Richard Nixon in the White House. Kevin Spacey plays Nixon in a slapstick manner.
“The End of the Tour” (2015)
Director James Ponsoldt recounts the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) right after his book “Infinite Jest” was published. This is a very underrated movie.
“Escape From Alcatraz” (1979)
Clint Eastwood stars as one of the three men who attempt to escape Alcatraz, one of the most infamous prisons in the world. The movie recounts their daring efforts that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
“Everybody Wants Some!!” (2016)
Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to “Dazed and Confused” is set in the 1980s and looks at a group of college baseball players as they struggle with the responsibilities of adulthood.
“Eye in the Sky” (2015)
Powered by great performances by Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Aaron Paul, we are given a glimpse inside the modern-day fight against terror, with life or death decisions made inside conference rooms thousands of miles away.
Denzel Washington gives one of the best performances of his career as he teams with Viola Davis following their stage rendition of August Wilson’s play, to bring it to the screen. Washington also directs this look at a working-class black family in the 1950s.
“A Fish Called Wanda” (1988)
John Cleese acted, wrote, and directed (though uncredited) this darkly comedic heist movie that features great performances by his fellow Monty Python mate, Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline (who won the best supporting actor Oscar).
“Fist of Fury” (1972)
Released as “The Chinese Connection” in the US, Lee’s second major role after the hit “The Big Boss” solidified his action star status to audiences worldwide.
“The Foot Fist Way” (2006)
Before Danny McBride and Jody Hill made “Eastbound & Down” they made “The Foot Fist Way. Marking Jody Hill’s directorial debut and Danny McBride’s first leading role, we follow the messed-up life of tae kwon do instructor Fred Simmons (McBride). Though nicer than Kenny Powers, you can see a lot of that character’s influence in how McBride plays Simmons.
“Free Fire” (2016)
Want a different kind of shootout movie? You’ve picked the right one. Ben Wheatley’s super smart gangster movie is unlike anything you’ve seen in the genre and stars a great cast that includes Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, and Noah Taylor.
“Gangs of New York” (2002)
Martin Scorsese’s epic look at late 1800s New York is one of his most ambitious projects to date. Leonardo DiCaprio is great, but the movie is owned by Daniel Day-Lewis’ Bill “The Butcher” Cutting.
This collection of video diaries of former NFL player Steve Gleason to his unborn son after he is diagnosed with ALS shows the progression of the disease and how it affects his wife and friends. A gripping and powerful look at a heroic journey.
“Gone in 60 Seconds” (1974)
Though most think of the Nicolas Cage/Angelina Jolie movie when they see the title, that was actually a remake of this movie. But the one thing they couldn’t pull off that the original had: an insane 40-minute car chase scene.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)
One of the greatest Westerns ever made, Sergio Leone’s epic stars Clint Eastwood as a man looking to find buried gold in a cemetery before two of his rivals (played by Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef) can.
“The Handmaiden” (2016)
Park Chan-wook’s (“Oldboy”) masterful thriller follows a handmaiden who is part of a plot to defraud a Japanese heiress. Nothing goes as planned.
“Heaven’s Gate” (1980)
Though Michael Cimino’s retelling of the 1890 Johnson Country War led to one of the most epic studio film failures of all time, the movie has found a new life in the decades since and is now considered a classic. Decide for yourself.
“Hustle & Flow” (2005)
The best way to describe this is by calling it the “Rocky” of hip-hop. A struggling Memphis Pimp (Terrence Howard) tries to better his life by becoming a rapper. It’s fueled by an amazing song by Three 6 Mafia that earned them an Oscar.
“I Am Not Your Negro” (2016)
Using the words of James Baldwin’s unfinished novel, director Raoul Peck looks at race in modern America.
“In & Out” (1997)
For late 1990, this was a revolutionary step: a studio movie exploring same-sex issues. In it Kevin Kline plays a Midwestern teacher who questions his sexuality.
All the “Indiana Jones” movies
Time to go back and enjoy one of the best action franchises ever made! Well, go back and watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Last Crusade,” you’re on your own with “Temple of Doom” and “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
“The Innkeepers” (2011)
With the Yankee Pedlar Inn days away from closing up shop for good, two employees (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) decide to uncover its haunted past. Ti West gives us a nice mix of scares and lighthearted humor with this one.
"Inside Llewyn Davis" (2013)
The Coen brothers take us back to New York City in the 1960s with this one as we follow a week in the life of a young singer. And this is the movie that made Oscar Isaac a star!
“Iron Man” (2008)
Let’s go back to the MCU’s humble beginnings. Here Robert Downey Jr. proves he can shoulder a franchise that would launch an empire and, yes, that’s Terrence Howard playing War Machine.
“It Comes at Night” (2017)
This movie uses the unseen horrors of the outside to create a terrifying look at a family trying to find order in their lives — when a family from the outside suddenly shows up to their front door. Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, and Riley Keough all give A+ performances.
“Killing Gunther” (2017)
“Saturday Night Live” alum Taran Killam writes, directs, and stars in this faux documentary that follows a group of hitmen who are trying to kill the greatest hitman, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is a bananas comedy that is highlighted by Schwarzenegger (who even sings a country song).
“Knock Knock” (2015)
Another example why you should never let strangers into your house. This Eli Roth movie stars Keanu Reeves as a father who helps out two stranded women who show up at his home. Then everything goes wrong.
On the heels of her hit directorial debut, “Obvious Child,” director Gillian Robespierre takes us to mid 1990s New York City to follow a teen girl navigating life when she suddenly learns her father is having an affair.
“The Lobster” (2015)
This movie shows Colin Farrell in a way you’ve never seen before and mixes bizarre comedy, romance, and thrills.
“Long Strange Trip” (2017)
Director Amir Bar-Lev takes on the incredible task of retelling the 30-year career of The Grateful Dead. He does it in a way that both Dead Heads and newbies can equally enjoy.
“Logan Lucky” (2017)
Steven Soderbergh takes the blueprint of the “Ocean’s Eleven” movies and strips everything studio about it to create a wonderful heist movie topped by the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Adam Driver.
“The Lost City of Z” (2016)
One of the best titles under the Amazon Studios banner, James Gray’s powerful look at one man’s (played by Charlie Hunnam) obsession with finding a mythical city in the Amazon is tour-de-force moviemaking.
“Love & Friendship” (2016)
Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny play Victorian women in this adaptation of a Jane Austen novel directed by Whit Stillman (“The Last Days of Disco”).
“The Magnificent Seven” (2016)
This remake of the classic Western (that’s a remake of Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”) follows a group of gunmen who team up to protect a poor village from a vicious gang. Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio in a bonkers performance all star.
“Manchester by the Sea” (2016)
Casey Affleck earned a best actor Oscar for his powerful portrayal of an uncle who has to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) after the boy’s father dies.
“Miss Sloane” (2016)
Jessica Chastain was pretty much robbed of an Oscar nomination for this fire performance as a DC lobbyist who finds a conscience.
“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” (2015)
Tom Cruise just keeps on chugging, and arguably is making better “Mission: Impossible” movies than ever before. In the latest movie of the franchise he hangs on the side of a plane taking off and introduces us to the fantastic Rebecca Ferguson.
Before Patty Jenkins made “Wonder Woman,” she made this gritty look at the life of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who became a serial killer. Played by Theron, the performance led to her Oscar win.
The life of a young gay black man told during his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood is a powerful story that requires repeat viewing.
“The Neon Demon” (2016)
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Los Angeles fever-dream is beautifully crafted, and in typical Refn fashion you never know what is going to happen next, as we follow a young model (Elle Fanning) delving deeper into the shady business.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays a creepy con man who has found that selling footage of illegal acts and traffic accidents that occur late-night in Los Angeles can be profitable. But then he takes things too far to score some exclusive footage. Gyllenhaal’s performance is even more creepy thanks to the dramatic pounds he shed for the role.
“Over the Top” (1987)
A father-son bonding story set around 18-wheelers and arm wrestling — welcome back to the 1980s! One of Sylvester Stallone’s most underrated movies, he plays a father who tries to get back into his son’s life after year of being separated, while also preparing for an arm wrestling tournament. This movie also has the best ‘80s soundtrack you’ve never heard.
“Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills” (1996)
It’s the documentary that brought national attention to the West Memphis Three, three teens who were tried and convicted in 1994 for murdering three boys (they would be released on an Alford plea in 2011). Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky head to Arkansas and investigate the murders to find a lot that leads to the belief that the teens didn’t do it, and led to a national outcry for their release.
Adam Driver plays a poet bus driver in Jim Jarmusch’s tender look at a man’s journey through his everyday life.
“Primal Fear” (1996)
This is one of the few courtroom dramas that actually has a shocking ending. Starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney doing their typical strong performances, it’s Edward Norton in his first movie that blows everyone away as the alter boy with the split personality accused of murdering a priest. Norton received a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for the performance.
“Requiem for a Dream” (2000)
Before “mother!” Darren Aronofsky scared us with this. Starring Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, and Ellen Burstyn, it explores drug addiction with stunning visuals and a story that will leave you emotionally drained.
“Reservoir Dogs” (1992)
Quentin Tarantino’s heist movie (without ever showing the heist) introduces the world to his super cool style of biting dialogue, graphic violence, and slick needle drops that would make him a legend.
Brie Larson earned an Oscar win for her performance of a woman who, while being held captive in a shed for seven years, has a child (Jacob Tremblay). The two are able to escape and the boy is introduced to the outside world for the first time. Larson and Tremblay deliver emotionally charged performances that you won’t forget anytime soon.
“Running Scared” (1986)
Probably one of the most underrated buddy cop tandems, Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal in this movie absolutely kill it. Playing two Chicago cops who are ready to retire and live out their days in Key West, their plans change when a drug dealer they’ve been trying to capture comes back into their lives.
“The Salesman” (2016)
This best foreign language Oscar winner looks at one man’s determination to find the person behind his wife’s assault.
“Saturday Night Fever” (1977)
This disco classic stars John Travolta as a Brooklyn kid who has dreams of being king of the dance floor. The movie also has one of the best movie soundtracks ever with numerous Bee Gees hits.
One of Al Pacino’s memorable performance from the 1970s, he plays New York cop Frank Serpico, who blows the whistle on the corruption at the NYPD though well-aware that his brothers in blue will soon turn against him.
Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent who is thrown head first into the war on drugs at the US/Mexico border. The combination of a supporting cast of Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, matched with the direction of Denis Villeneuve, script by Taylor Sheridan (“Hell of High Water”), and the photography of DP Roger Deakins, makes the movie a must see.
It’s the movie Martin Scorsese spent 30 years trying to make. Not many saw it in theaters and that’s a disappointment, it’s one of his best. The major highlight is the performance by Andrew Garfield. Give this one a try.
Writer-director Clay Liford combines teen sexual awakening with fanboy culture to deliver a unique look at one teen trying to maneuver through life.
“Some Like It Hot” (1959)
Billy Wilder’s classic comedy stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as two musicians who witness a mob hit and decide the only way to stay alive is to dress as women and join an all-female band. Then they meet Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) and things get even more complicated. Wilder breaks new ground on how sex and sexuality is viewed in movies.
The most recent James Bond movie follows 007 (Daniel Craig) as he comes face-to-face with Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). Though it feels like this is Craig saying goodbye to the character, he actually is on for the next Bond movie.
What has become a classic teen comedy movie, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill play two high school friends who just want to party and get the girl one time before heading off to college.
“Super Size Me” (2004)
Morgan Suprlock examines the dangers of fast food by only eating McDonald’s food for an entire month.
“Swiss Army Man” (2016)
It’s one of the strangest movies you’ll ever see, but you have to see it. Paul Dano plays a man stranded on an island who realizes the dead body he’s found (played by Daniel Radcliffe) can help him not just find civilization, but also help him with his broken heart.
“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974)
Tobe Hooper’s essential horror movie is still as powerful and scary as it was when it freaked everyone out in the 1970s. It’s documentary feel and all-in performances will make it a must-see until the end of time.
“Thelma & Louise” (1991)
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis play best friends who set out on a road trip that leads to a run from the law after they commit a crime. Winner of a best screenplay Oscar, it has one of the best endings ever.
“The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968)
Steve McQueen proves he can do more than tough guy roles as he plays a slick bank executive who thinks he’s pulled off the perfect heist. That is, until he meets an insurance investigator played by Faye Dunaway.
“Total Recall” (1990)
Paul Verhoeven completely messes with our minds with this adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger who thinks he’s on a virtual vacation to Mars, though everything happening to him might be real.
“Up in the Air” (2009)
George Clooney plays a guy who loves to travel. On a plane is where he’s most comfortable. But his perfect life is suddenly shattered with a combination of family obligations, meeting a new love, and showing a new hire the ropes.
“What We Do in the Shadows” (2014)
Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi team up to show that it’s really a challenge to live as a vampire in today’s world.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (2016)
Tina Fey plays a journalist covering the war in Afghanistan. It looks at the mind-numbing daily existence of staying alive during the day and partying at night.
“Wheels on Meals” (1984)
This is peak Jackie Chan! Mixing comedy with some of the best martial arts sequences you’ll ever see, this movie shows Chan in his prime.
“Where to Invade Next” (2015)
Michael Moore tours to globe to show Americans that there are a lot of things we can learn about heath care, women’s rights, the prison system, and just common decency from other countries.
David Fincher's masterpiece looks back on how the Zodiac killer scared the heck out of everyone in San Francisco in the late 1960s/early 1970s and follows the one guy (Jake Gyllenhaal) who's obsessed with figuring out the man behind the Zodiac.