10. The Rookie (2002)
Dennis Quaid stars as a once-great pitcher looking to recapture his glory as he approaches 40. The film is a true underdog story and is actually based on real-life events. I know Disney has a history of some pretty cliched sports movies in the last couple decades, but The Rookie seems to have a little more substance to it than other works. Jim Morris’ (Quaid) debut in the MLB is one of the more powerful scenes in baseball movie history.
9. Places in the Heart (1984)
In this period piece, a spunky Sally Field tries to keep the family farm afloat. Of course, things don’t go too easily, and she must rely on a rag-tag group of folk to keep it afloat. The acting here is superb and the story is much more complex than it sounds.
8. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
In her breakout performance, Hilary Swank takes on a male persona and attempts to make it in rural Nebraska. In true cinematic fashion, the character’s past comes back to rue, as the film takes a relatively dark turn.
7. Primer (2004)
Made on a shoestring budget, “Primer” is truly a remarkable achievement in science-fiction. With that in mind, don’t expect cutting edge special effects here. Rather, you get superb and cerebral contemplation.
6. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
This is not exactly the most patriotic entry on the countdown, but Ron Kovic’s frustrations are pretty understandable. Over the course of the movie, you go from a post-World War II utopia to the hell that was Vietnam. This is probably not the “feel good” affair you want to watch with the kids this weekend, but an important film, nonetheless.
5. Talk Radio (1988)
Coming off some incredible films in the late-1980’s, which garnered him major critical and financial success, Oliver Stone authored a more intimate work in “Talk Radio.” The movie is very much ahead of its time, examining the dangers and influence of the media.
4. Silkwood (1983)
Kurt Russell has a supporting role in this Meryl Streep classic about workers’ rights and a tragic cover-up. This was one of Russell’s first forays into a major dramatic film and he acquitted himself quite well. Working alongside Streep was, and still is, a big deal.
3. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The crime classic was one of Gene Wilder and Gene Hackman’s first major roles, helping to cement him as a solid Hollywood presence. He wasn’t on-screen for very long, but the impact, along with the film’s commercial and critical success, launched Gene’s career. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway play the leads well here.
2. Tree of Life (2011)
You’d be hard-pressed to find films more cinematically beautiful than those authored by Terrence Malick. While Malick has made only a handful of films, each are magical in different ways. The director often examines human nature as it conflicts or isn in-sync with spirituality. “Days of Heaven” might be the most beautiful film ever shot, but “The Thin Red Line” and “The Tree of Life” are his best.
- JFK (1991)
Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-filled masterpiece is layered and beautifully-terrifying. The cast is absolutely phenomenal and the story holds up, even after a hefty runtime. Costner is excellent as Jim Garrison. This one has really held up well also…