20 Films Turning 20 in 2015

GoldenEye

GoldenEye

Poor Pierce Brosnan. By the time Casino Royale kicked off the Daniel Craig era in 2006, people were hailing it as a welcome turn toward gritty authenticity after the ridiculousness of the Brosnan period. But he got off to a solid start with GoldenEye, comfortably slipping into the character to deliver an entertaining crowdpleaser.

Casino

Casino

It’s not Martin Scorsese‘s best film — it’s not even Martin Scorsese’s best gangster movie scripted and based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi — but then again, it’s hard to fault any film for failing to live up to the lofty standards of Goodfellas. Casino is a gangster classic in its own right, diving into the glittering world of Las Vegas casinos as well as the uglier, darker world that lay just underneath.

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects

These days, Bryan Singer keeps himself busy building Fox’s X-Men universe, but like most blockbuster filmmakers he started small. He was just 27 when he made his mark with The Usual Suspects, a sleek, slickly acted thriller featuring one of the most talked-about plot twists of all time. The ending may not surprise the way it used to, but the ride is as entertaining as it ever was.

Braveheart

Braveheart

Remember when Mel Gibson was still a thing? People didn’t just like Braveheart, they loved it. The film won him two Oscars in 1996, for Best Picture and Best Director. Sure, its grasp of actual history was iffy at best, but it was hard to mind too much while getting swept up in the romance and drama of a medieval battlefield.

Heat

Heat

The crowning achievement of Michael Mann‘s career, Heat hits all of his signature themes (men at work) and stylistic flourishes (cool colors and cooler architecture). It also sets two crime pic heavyweights, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, opposite each other in an iconic diner scene that’s been rewatched, picked apart, and referenced countless times since. When a film like Blackhat disappoints, it’s in part because we know how much greater Mann can be.

12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys

Here we are, exactly halfway between 1995, when 12 Monkeys was released, and 2035, when 12 Monkeys is set. Let’s just be glad his dystopian vision doesn’t actually look like it’s going to come to pass. 12 Monkeys is as weird and wild as anything Terry Gilliam has done, but somehow that wasn’t a liability — 12 Monkeys is one of his biggest commercial hits.

Seven

Seven

David Fincher made his directing debut with Alien 3, but it was a messy and contentious production in which Fincher was overruled by the studio at every turn. It was in Seven that he really got to come into his own, and he immediately announced himself as a filmmaker to watch. Eight films later, you could still make an argument for Seven being his best.

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