The 75 Best Movies on Amazon Prime (2017)

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the-fits.jpg 50. The Fits
Year: 2016
Director: Anna Rose Holmer
It’s not difficult to imagine a different cut of Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits that hews closer to the arc of a traditional sports story. Hers has the makings of a familiar one, of a misfit who wants more than anything to compete—but unlike most stories of inspirational audacity, The Fits is as much about discomfort as the catharsis that comes with achievement. In it, Toni (Royalty Hightower) is an 11-year-old who has more experience with stereotypically male pursuits like lifting weights and punching speed bags than the usual interests of a pre-teen girl. She spends nearly all of her time at the Lincoln Recreation Center alongside her boxer brother, Jermaine (Da’Sean Minor), pushing her body to the limit. While she shows a remarkable aptitude for the ascetical devotion required for boxing, she still dreams about competing on the dance team, “The Lincoln Lionesses.” Framed with a rigid sense of space by cinematographer Paul Yee, and backed by the groaning score from veteran composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, The Fits is infused with such dread that one can’t help but imagine that characters’ muscles and bones could break or shatter at any moment. The film’s most explicit example of which may be Toni pulling off a temporary tattoo, but The Fits is firmly a story of metaphysical body horror, an allegory about our greatest fears of physical fragility shot brilliantly through a feminist lens. With that, the film manages to reinvent the sports story as something both brainy and physically pure.—Michael Snydel


american-history-x.jpg 49. American History X
Year: 1998
Director: Tony Kaye
It’s upsetting that director Tony Kaye was so unhappy with the final cut of American History X that he tried to have his name removed from the credits. How much better can a debut feature realistically get, and why discredit one of the greatest films ever made about race relations by attributing it to Humpty Dumpty? Although the driving force of the film is Edward Norton’s visceral performance, Kaye makes him the centerpiece of so many now-iconic black-and-white compositions. The dinner scene that erupts into an argument about Rodney King is so arresting due to Derek Vinyard’s palpable anger. But when Vinyard throws his mother’s new boyfriend out of the house and he turns back, briefly, to see the American flag blowing in the wind, just before he leaves? That’s Tony Kaye knowing how to create an indelible image.—Allie Conti


green-room.jpg 48. Green Room
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
What’s perhaps most refreshing in Green Room is writer-director Jeremy Saulnier’s lack of interest in the kind of moralizing that made his last film, Blue Ruin, ultimately seem conventional. Instead, Saulnier simply presents us this nutty scenario without feeling the need to lard it up with anything as cumbersome as topical commentary or moral ambiguity. He proceeds to wring as much tension and suspense from its pulpy retro plot as possible, adding a few entertaining grace notes along the way, which can best be seen in its performances. In the ensemble-based Green Room, Saulnier revels in the contrasts of personalities and styles: band bassist Pat’s (Anton Yelchin) Bill Paxton-like desperation, for instance, set alongside the weary, near-drugged-out deadpan of Amber (Imogen Poots), a friend of the woman whose murder sets off the film’s violent chain of events; or the imperial calm of Darcy (Patrick Stewart), the ruthless leader of the band of white supremacists who attempt to kill Pat, Amber and the rest. It’d be a stretch to call these characters three-dimensional, but nevertheless, under Saulnier’s writing and direction, they all manage to stand out just enough as individuals for us to become emotionally involved in their fates. Meanwhile, Saulnier supports these characters and plot turns with filmmaking that is remarkable for its economy and patience. D.P. Sean Porter gets a lot of mileage out of the cramped quarters and grimy lighting of the bar, lending its wide (2.35:1) frames an appropriately nightmarish feel amidst many suspenseful set pieces. In those ways, the lean, mean Green Room stands as one of the best B-movie genre exercises in many years.—Kenji Fujishima


son-of-rambow.jpg 47. Son of Rambow
Year: 2013
Director: Garth Jennings
Son of Rambow was an audience favorite at Sundance in 2007, managing to upstage Stallone with a funny little movie that uses his action franchise as a springboard for something far more rewarding. Two boys attending an English middle school, Will and Lee (played by perfectly cast newcomers Bill Milner and Will Poulter), are brought together by a slight altercation outside the headmaster’s office. Otherwise, they might not have become friends—they’re complete opposites, Lee a Huck Finn-type miscreant who’s no stranger to the principal’s office, and Will part of a family that belongs to a strict Christian denomination known as “The Brethren.” The boys’ chance meeting in the hallway eventually leads them to Lee’s house, where Will stumbles across a bootleg of First Blood, Stallone’s original Rambo film, the sight of which nearly burns his long-sheltered eyes and stokes his already fertile imagination, giving him fantasies of bombs and bowie knives and missions in the jungle. Inspired by what they’ve seen, Lee and Will set out to make their own sequel to Stallone’s film, directed by Lee and starring Will as the skinny, camouflaged “Son of Rambow.” Jennings’ sensibilities lie closest to Gondry’s, not just in the belief in camaraderie—the ever-endangered spine of this movie—but also in the way he blends whimsy with fact and can’t pass up the chance for a cute visual flourish. He has a lot of plates to keep spinning—the growing cast, the various modes of fashion—but he syncs them using plain-old traditional friendship. When all’s said and done, the do-it-yourself-video sequel is an excuse for Jennings to tell a nice little story about buddies.—Robert Davis


behind-the-candelabra.jpg 46. Behind the Candelabra
Year: 2013
Director: Steven Soderbergh 
At first blush, the main draw of Behind the Candelabra would seem to be its camp appeal: a true-life love story between a humble aspiring veterinarian and Liberace, that icon of kitsch and knowing excess. And while that element exists in director Steven Soderbergh’s film, what resonates more strongly is the difficulty in falling in love with someone famous. That person may love you back sincerely, but fame always gets in the way. That’s not a particularly revelatory idea, but Soderbergh and his cast at least find a lively way to say it one more time. A glitzy coming-of-age story told in hot tubs and Rolls Royces, Behind the Candelabra is not necessarily the sort of project you envision Soderbergh finishing his directing career making. But if it is his final movie, it’s worth noting that this is one of his warmest.—Tim Grierson


gremlins.jpg 45. Gremlins
Year: 1984
Director: Joe Dante
Joe Dante’s Gremlins is an yearly Christmastime argument waiting to happen, in the same vein as Die Hard, given that both are annually tossed onto “best Christmas movie” lists, but those debates often overlook the dark comedy of an expertly crafted ‘80s horror film from Dante at the height of his powers. Taking the lessons he learned as a ‘70s Roger Corman protege, Dante borrows character actors like Dick Miller to create a cynical, biting rebuke of maudlin sentimentality and children’s entertainment. The surprising counterpoint between comedy and graphic violence was a source of consternation that led directly to the creation of the PG-13 rating, but its more important impact was shaping the aesthetic of nearly every horror comedy for the next three decades.—Jim Vorel


7a.jpg 44. Anomalisa
Year: 2015
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Preciousness and misanthropy have always been the twin hallmarks of Charlie Kaufman’s work, his characters’ misery heightened and sometimes enlivened by the writer-director’s ability to craft clever sci-fi/fantastical scenarios around them. In Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind (which won him a Best Original Screenplay Oscar) or his 2008 directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, he has managed to make everyday loneliness and the gnawing sense of futility resonate with an almost ineffable sting. In Kaufman’s hands, life looks heartbreaking, and yet it can often be beautiful at the same time. It’s hard to know yet whether Anomalisa is a new peak for Kaufman, or merely another highlight in a distinguished career. But what is clear at this point is that it’s piercingly poignant—perhaps his most succinct expression of the malaise that’s forever haunting his work. Anomalisa doesn’t resolve the issues that have eaten at his characters since his first published screenplay, 1999’s Being John Malkovich, but the honesty with which he depicts those struggles remain startling, even comforting. This movie is life-affirming, not because of any artificial feel-good sentiment, but because it mirrors one’s own mixed feelings about the wonders and horrors of being alive. Plus, it’s really funny.—Tim Grierson


american-beauty.jpg 43. American Beauty
Year: 1999
Director: Sam Mendes 
Screenwriter Alan Ball mined his experience as an unsatisfied member of the television industry to pen American Beauty—a beautiful meditation on the hollowness of American suburbia and its materialism. Although Ball originally intended it for the stage, director Sam Mendes made the film intensely personal for each character, adding the kind of emotional heft that only a film—when expertly executed—can provide. This is the story of Lester Burnham’s complete journey from imprisoned office worker to carefree teenager to enlightened adult, although each character undergoes a similar transformation. The film may nominally be about Burnham’s obsession with the titular Angela Hayes, but its real message is that a more powerful beauty can be found in unexpected places. You just have to look closer.—Allie Conti


while-were-young.jpg 42. While We’re Young
Year: 2015
Director: Noah Baumbach 
While We’re Young stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a 40-something married couple living in New York City. Cornelia produces her revered father’s documentaries—the father is played by the stellar Charles Grodin—while Josh is a once-promising documentarian who has spent a decade on his latest project, which might finally get done in about a decade from now. Childless but relatively content—a couple miscarriages have convinced them that parenthood wasn’t in their future—Josh and Cornelia find their staid domestic lives interrupted by meeting Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), who are almost the perfect representation of 20-something hipsters. A free-spirited married couple who love kitschy cultural detritus like Rocky III with utter sincerity, Jamie and Darby have an enthusiasm for new restaurants, trends and enlightenment movements that shakes Josh and Cornelia from their doldrums. Though focused on Josh, who’s consumed with disappointment that he’s not a bigger success, the film views its two generations of characters with equal amusement. If Josh and Cornelia are struggling with the choices they’ve made, Jamie and Darby are grappling with the moment when they have to stop imagining a future and start reaching for it. From Josh’s perspective, Jamie is so lucky, his life stretching out in front of him. As they become friends, Josh tries to be a mentor, but really he just wants to go back to being young, when he had potential and promise rather than just being a middle-aged disappointment. Stiller has a knack for such twitchy, failed individuals, and he wrings Josh’s hang-ups for plentiful laughs. As for Driver, he successfully transforms Jamie into a comically nightmarish vision of that supremely confident, serenely unflappable younger guy we all know, a thorn in the side of our faltering self-esteem. If the performance weren’t so painfully true, it wouldn’t be so damn funny.—Tim Grierson


the-witch.jpg 41. The Witch
Year: 2016
Director: Robert Eggers
From its first moments, The Witch strands us in a hostile land. We watch (because that’s all we can do, helplessly) as puritan patriarch William (Ralph Ineson) argues stubbornly with a small council, thereby causing his family’s banishment from their “New England” community. We watch, and writer-director Robert Eggers holds our gaze while a score of strings and assorted prickly detritus. The wagon lurches ever-on into the wilderness, piling the frontier of this New World upon the literal frontier of an unexplored forest. It’s 1620, and William claims, “We will conquer this wilderness.” Eggers’ “New England Folk Tale” is a horror film swollen with the allure of the unknown. To say that it’s reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials, which take place 70 years after the events in the film, would be an understatement—the inevitable consequences of such historic mania looms heavily over The Witch. All of this Eggers frames with a subconscious knack for creating tension within each shot, rarely relying on jump scares or gore, instead mounting suspense through one masterful edit after another. The effect, then, is that of a building fever dream in which primeval forces—lust, defiance, hunger, greed—simmer at the edges of experience, avoided but never quite conquered.—Dom Sinacola


20-best-so-far-2015-Ill-See-You-in-my-Dreams2.jpg 40. I’ll See You in My Dreams
Year: 2015
Director: Brett Haley
Picture this: You’ve been on your own for decades following the death of your spouse, your friends are all mostly enshrined in retirement community living and you’ve just been told that you have to put your pooch to sleep. In a less thoughtful movie, you’d be expected to fall into a traditional romance with a perfect stranger and validate your existence anew through wholesome late-stage monogamy. But Brett Haley’s I’ll See You in My Dreams has insight and empathy to spare, which combine with its casts considerable charms—especially those of Haley’s star, Blythe Danner—to make his film altogether different from other fare of its sort. Danner’s happily independent widow falls into a friendship with her pool boy (Martin Starr) and into courtship with the never-more-dashing Sam Elliot, but I’ll See You in My Dreams doesn’t condescend to its characters (or its viewers). Instead, it offers an organic, non-judgmental portrait of one woman choosing to reconnect with life.—Andy Crump


beautiful-girls.jpg 39. Beautiful Girls
Year: 1996
Director: Ted Demme
Ted Demme’s 1996 film is many things, all but one of them not particularly unique or unheard of: it’s a well-executed ensemble relationship comedy set in a small town that’s recognizable to anyone who’s spent any time in a small town. It’s a calm, gentle study of a group of childhood friends struggling to come to terms with the responsibilities of adulthood and of their impending 30s. None of that is unique, though having it all come together as well as it does in Beautiful Girls is certainly unusual. What is uncommon, however—and pretty much absent from Hollywood—is its portrait of attraction between an older man and a young, barely teenaged girl. With the pseudo-courtship between the Marty (Natalie Portman) and Willie (Timothy Hutton), writer Scott Rosenberg allows for an attraction between age categories that isn’t prurient or melodramatic or improperly acted on—it just is. Watching the chemistry between Marty and Willie develop and watching the two wrestle with what to do about it is refreshing and romantic, even as its ultimate resolution rings true (and a bit bittersweet).—Michael Burgin


pretty-in-pink.jpg 38. Pretty in Pink
Year: 1986
Director: John Hughes
Let’s ignore the fact that she ends up with the wrong guy in the end (Team Duckie for life!) and examine what makes Pretty in Pink’s Andie so impossibly cool: She works in a record store and has killer taste in music. Her outfits are daring and incredible. She brushes off insults from evil richie-rich Steff (James Spader) like they ain’t no thang. She supports her deadbeat dad and essentially serves as head of their household. But most importantly, she’s the picture of courage, staying true to herself the whole way through and never changing to please Blane and his wealthy friends—and if there’s any single movie character teen girls should be modeling themselves after as they attempt to swim the treacherous waters of high school without drowning, she’s the one.—Bonnie Stiernberg


room.jpg 37. Room
Year: 2015
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
A potentially sensational premise is handled with grace and incisiveness in Room, Lenny Abrahamson’s adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s best-selling novel. Scripted by the author herself, and hewing closely to her book’s adolescent point-of-view, the film opens in what is initially known only as “Room,” a small, crowded space filled with a bed, a wardrobe, a few kitchen appliances, a table and drawings that decorate its walls. In this environment, which boasts a skylight but no windows, live Joy (Brie Larson) and her long-haired son Jack (Jacob Tremblay), the latter of whom has apparently never stepped outside Room’s sole door. That entryway is locked via a keypad, and only opened and closed by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), a bearded figure who appears in the night while Jack sleeps (or pretends to) in order to deliver supplies and have his way with Joy. Abrahamson’s film immediately sets itself alongside Jack, assuming his perspective as he narrates his thoughts, anxieties and skewed comprehension of reality. In the traumatic events that follow, what emerges is a stirring portrait of maternal altruism, as Joy sacrifices their safety, as well as her one true connection to the real world, in order to potentially offer her offspring a future that expands past the constricting walls of his makeshift prison home.—Nick Schager


monster.jpg 36. Monster
Year: 2004
Director: Patty Jenkins
If you haven’t watched the difficult but terrific Monster, it would be easy to dismiss Charlize Theron’s Oscar-winning performance as a gimmick: pretty actress made to look plain or ugly. We’ve seen that many times, on screens big and small, and we’re usually left wondering why the producers just didn’t get a non-starlet to play the role. But even though Theron’s physical transformation takes the ruse to a new level—it is thorough enough to render the actress unrecognizable and often indistinguishable from the real person she plays—her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos goes well beyond make-up tricks. It’s all encompassing. Theron is completely submerged in her character. Every glance, every hand gesture and every physical tick seem to be those of Wuronos. There’s not a single moment in the film in which the actress peaks out from behind those eyes. Charlize Theron captured something essential and magical (if very disturbing) in a performance that ranks as one of the best of cinematic history.—Tim Regan-Porter


krisha.jpg 35. Krisha
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Year: 2016
You’ve seen the plot of Krisha before: self-destructive woman with a drinking problem goes to a family gathering supposedly having made strides in putting her life back together, but finds the tensions that arise testing her resolve to not go back to the bottle. Jonathan Demme explored similar territory in his 2008 film Rachel Getting Married, and Trey Edward Shults’ debut film does have a similar looseness to it, a feeling that anything can happen at any time. That, however, is where the similarities end. Whereas Demme’s film was warmly observational, Shults’ film aims for an expressionism that imaginatively uses formal elements to invite us into the titular main character’s fractured psyche. Krisha could be seen as cinematic family therapy: Shults’ way of dealing with what was apparently a troubled home life. But you don’t need to know all that to appreciate the passion he brought to this project. One can sense it in the film’s long takes and still setups, in the alternation between montages of unnerving chaos and lengthy scenes of shattering solitude. Krisha does more than announce a potentially major new talent; it shakes new, and tragically devastating, energy into the dysfunctional family drama.—Kenji Fujimura


ten-kiarostami.jpg 34. Ten
Year: 2002
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Like with Kiarostami’s best films (Close-Up and Certified Copy, among many), the rigorous conceit behind Ten is more unwieldy to describe than it is to experience. Over the course of 10 conversations—each demarcated by a sort of old-timey film stock count-down, each chronologically spaced but lacking a clear sense of how much time has passed between segments—we experience the fears, quirks, travails and typical day of a woman living, working and attempting to carve out some room for her own in modern Tehran. Filmed in long takes by two digital cameras, one mounted to unflinchingly chronicle the passenger side of one woman’s (Mania Akbari) taxi cab, and the other trained only on the woman, Kiarostami never moves his cameras (except for one stark glimpse of the casually seedy side of Tehran nightlife) to take in anything but this woman and her passengers. Yet, within these self-set strictures, Kiarostami is able to convey a deeply felt sense of full lives playing out in our periphery, giving intimate voices to those most often overlooked. —Dom Sinacola


interstellar.jpg 33. Interstellar
Year: 2014
Director: Christopher Nolan 
Whether he’s making superhero movies or blockbuster puzzle boxes, Christopher Nolan doesn’t usually bandy with emotion. But Interstellar is a nearly three-hour ode to the interconnecting power of love. It’s also his personal attempt at doing in 2014 what Stanley Kubrick did in 1968 with 2001: A Space Odyssey, less of an ode or homage than a challenge to Kubrick’s highly polarizing contribution to cinematic canon. Interstellar wants to uplift us with its visceral strengths, weaving a myth about the great American spirit of invention gone dormant. It’s an ambitious paean to ambition itself. The film begins in a not-too-distant future, where drought, blight and dust storms have battered the world down into a regressively agrarian society. Textbooks cite the Apollo missions as hoaxes, and children are groomed to be farmers rather than engineers. This is a world where hope is dead, where spaceships sit on shelves collecting dust, and which former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) bristles against. He’s long resigned to his fate but still despondent over mankind’s failure to think beyond its galactic borders. But then Cooper falls in with a troop of underground NASA scientists, led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), who plan on sending a small team through a wormhole to explore three potentially habitable planets and ostensibly secure the human race’s continued survival. But the film succeeds more as a visual tour of the cosmos than as an actual story. The rah-rah optimism of the film’s pro-NASA stance is stirring, and on some level that tribute to human endeavor keeps the entire yarn afloat. But no amount of scientific positivism can offset the weight of poetic repetition and platitudes about love.—Andy Crump


the-reader.jpg 32. The Reader
Year: 2009
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader is a somber, desolate and profound film that does not shy away from the story’s thematic complexities. David Kross superbly plays Michael Berg, a teenager in post-World War II Germany who embarks on an affair with a stern, serious older woman named Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). A relationship that begins through an act of kindness quickly becomes sexual, tense and volatile. She becomes entranced by the stories Michael reads to her, the grand tales of Homer, Chekhov, Mark Twain and D.H. Lawrence. One of The Reader’s virtues is its great respect for literature, for those fleeting moments in Hanna’s day where she can revel in a world that is not her own. Winslet is astonishing as Hanna, an introverted woman whose past has been locked away so deep inside of her it has robbed her of a future. When the truth about her past is revealed in the film’s second half, the shame of her secret tightens its grip on her throat. Professor Rohl (a terrific Bruno Ganz) tells Michael to learn from the mistakes he’s made so he can avoid them in his own life. But learning signifies understanding, and understanding is the phantom each character in The Reader desperately chases—that elusive resolution not attainable when horrors this tragic happen at your own doorstep, when the people responsible are staring you in the face.—Jeremy Medina


song-of-the-sea.jpg 31. Song of the Sea
Year: 2014
Director: Tomm Moore
Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea might have made a better videogame than a motion picture. That’s saying something, because as motion pictures go, it’s an absolutely visceral stunner: you may find yourself wishing you could interact with its characters, live in its vividly realized world, participate in its defining ancestral conflicts. The film leaves a literary impression. Watching the narrative unfold piece by piece is akin to reading a good book, flipping by page after page of a well-worn tome of fables as old as Ireland itself; by consequence, Song of the Sea feels like a lifetime of bedtime stories all carefully shaped into one 90-minute film. Bright and vibrant, fresh but wholly lived-in, Song of the Sea, like Moore’s previous film, 2009’s The Secret of Kells, is a beautiful tour through the legends that color his country’s proud history of narrative tradition. You will want to repeatedly revisit Ben’s and Saoirse’s world, peppered with whimsy and awe, sharing in the sort of lore-soaked fiction that most authors and directors wish they could come up with, creating something so effortlessly timeless.—Andy Crump


the-last-crusade.jpg 30. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Directed by:   Steven Spielberg  
After the mindfreak that was Indiana Jones and the Temple Doom left a bad taste in audiences’ mouths (creating the PG-13 rating in the process), Steven Spielberg and his collaborators went back to the drawing board, crafting a film that would retain the simpler tone of Raiders of the Lost Ark without feeling like a rehash of that Oscar-nominated adventure. After filing through several different pitches and drafts (Spielberg even admitted at one point he felt he was “too old” for some of the stories), Spielberg and producer/writer George Lucas settled on a story about the search for The Holy Grail. Spielberg’s stroke of genius, however, was not only his decision to incorporate Indiana’s Jones estranged father into the plotline but to cast Sean Connery to fill the role. The dramatic dynamic between father and son lends the film an emotional heft that is noticeably absent from the more lightweight Raiders. In this way, one could perhaps even hold up Last Crusade as the superior story (emphasis on “perhaps”). Plus, as an added bonus, the film offers a prologue featuring the late, great River Phoenix as a young Indiana Jones.—Mark Rozeman


top-five.jpg 29. Top Five
Year: 2014
Director: Chris Rock 
The chief thing to know about the film is that it’s hilarious, as a comedy made by Rock should be. Almost as important is that it’s heartfelt. Rock uses the opportunity to reflect on his own personal and professional travails; he leans on his biting wit, offering few pleasantries in Allen’s quest for respectability. Top Five has tender times, but the film’s sentiment usually gives way to rawer moments involving, among other things, Brown’s relationship with her boyfriend (Anders Holm), Allen’s misgivings about getting hitched, the family he left behind for Hollywood and, yes, those rare occasions that unintentionally mimic the current events on our televisions today.—Andy Crump


shakespeare-in-love.jpg 28. Shakespeare in Love
Year: 1998
Director: John Madden
Another film whose reputation has suffered somewhat since its initial reception, largely in this case as a result of an ill-considered Oscar and Gweneth Paltrow’s ill-considered management of her public persona since then. No one is more annoyed with latter-day Goop than me, but even I can admit that Shakespeare in Love gets a bad rap. It’s delightful, especially for those with any experience in the theater whatsoever (the theater world itself is the romantic interest of the film, every bit as much as Gweneth’s Viola de Lesseps). And, it’s now safe to say out loud – Ben Affleck is fantastically charming in this film. If you haven’t seen it in awhile, you’ll be surprised at how much more you like it than you remembered.—Michael Dunaway


american-werewolf.jpg 27. An American Werewolf in London
Year: 1981
Director: John Landis
There’s gallows humor, then there’s the more direct approach of a-wolf-tearing-out-one’s-esophagus humor. John Landis’ other werewolf (non-King of Pop) entry is practically an overachiever in balancing its genuinely scary-as-hell moments with scenes of absurd levity. Rick Baker’s wolfen SFX also serves as evidence that David Cronenberg didn’t hold the monopoly on bodily horror during the ’80s, nor Industrial Light and Magic the monopoly on putting the fantastic on film. —Scott Wold


amy.jpg 26. Amy
Year: 2015
Directors: Asif Kapadia
Director Asif Kapadia wisely puts his subject front-and-center; friends, family members and music industry associates are all interviewed for the film, but nearly all of them are presented as voiceovers rather than talking heads. Even when others are speaking, it’s impossible to take your eyes off Winehouse in Amy. He has a way of making her reality feel cinematic, lingering in slow motion as she looks back at the paparazzi and rolls her eyes after rushing into a car amid a flurry of camera flashes. When she wins the Grammy for Record of the Year and gazes up at a screen broadcasting the ceremony, the way her eyes light up will make you briefly think you’re not watching a documentary, but rather an awards-season biopic with some actress in a beehive wig trying to earn her Oscar. Then you’ll pity anyone dumb enough to try to top Amy with something scripted—there’s nothing like the real thing. —Bonnie Stiernberg


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